Australia 16-15 British & Irish Lions, 2nd Test, Melbourne
Horwill: All bets are off
June 29, 2013
James Horwill celebrates victory over the Lions © Getty Images
Australia captain James Horwill admitted "all bets are off" as they head into next weekend's series decider against the British & Irish Lions in Sydney.
Horwill and his team-mates celebrated a dramatic 16-15 victory in Melbourne - which leveled the series 1-1 after the Lions' victory in the opening Test - after Leigh Halfpenny's last-ditch penalty effort dropped short of the posts at the Etihad Stadium.
And the Wallabies skipper, who will miss the third Test if he is banned for stamping by a disciplinary hearing on Monday, is predicting another epic struggle in next Saturday's final Test.
"I hoped that Halfpenny would miss. He's hardly missed a kick all tour so your pulse rate certainly goes up," said the Wallabies captain. "We were disappointed to let them have a shot at goal like that. We should have run the clock down and closed the game out with more composure.
"We found a way to win. It probably wasn't the prettiest game of rugby, but we found a way to win. These are intense battles that come down to one moment. Now all bets are off. It's one game to win it. To lead the team in a game of that magnitude would be huge for me. There's relief and jubilation.
"It will be close next week, one or two points in it. Both teams are evenly matched. The Lions will bounce back like any quality team. I'm expecting it to be the toughest game of the tour."
Robbie Deans, whose future as Australia's head coach is thought to be tied to the outcome of the series, was impressed by the way his team delivered at the critical moment.
"I'm very proud. It doesn't get any bigger than that. They knew that if they didn't score a try and conversion the series would be done," Deans said. "There's one Test to go. How good is that? What a great series! It's great for the game and Saturday will be a great end to the series."
Robbie Deans hails the spirit and character of his Wallabies team
Australia were trailing 15-9 heading into the final five minutes but they snatched the lead after Adam Ashley-Cooper went over for a try nervelessly converted by his midfield partner Christian Leali'ifano.
And with Halfpenny unable to convert his long-range effort right at the death, that score proved the difference between success and failure for the Wallabies. Ashley-Cooper was delighted with his match-winning score but rather than take the plaudits himself preferred to praise his side for their never-say-die attitude and self-belief.
"It was really important to retain that belief, obviously six points down there was a lot of frustration out there, because possession was letting us down and ball security, but in the end Test match football is about grinding it out and going to the 80th minute and fortunately for us we were able to get the points," he said.
"I'm very proud to be a part of this team, I'm proud to score a try and obviously make the difference tonight, but it's not about me it's about the team, holding on in there for 80 minutes and getting the result and taking it to the final in Sydney. It's really going to make for a cracking final in Sydney."
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