Australia 16-15 British & Irish Lions, Melbourne
Kurtley Beale feels for Leigh Halfpenny
June 30, 2013
Leigh Halfpenny watches his last-ditch kick fall shory © Getty Images
Kurtley Beale empathised with Leigh Halfpenny after the British & Irish Lions fullback emulated the Australian's first Test disappointment by missing a kick for glory in the second Tom Richards Cup Test at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. For the second consecutive week, a brutal and tense battle was decided by a missed long-range penalty kick on full-time, but this time the Wallabies celebrated after the Welshman's kick failed to go the distance in Melbourne.
Beale slipped at Suncorp Stadium the week before to gift victory to the Lions in Brisbane, and he said that he felt for Halfpenny - who had nailed 27 from 29 attempts on tour before the second Test.
"Obviously I was in the same situation last week, and it's a big kick; it's a massive kick and there's a lot of things going through your head," the Wallabies fullback said on Sunday. "It's a big ask but he's been striking the ball well all series, I think he's only missed two. We were just very lucky at the end."
Warren Gatland was happy to twist the knife on Beale last week by saying his moulded boots had contributed to the Australian's 46-metre miss, but the Lions coach shielded Halfpenny from blame for missing his shot from past halfway for the tourists' first series success in 16 years. The Welshman finished the game with five from seven kicks - with his other miss hitting the crossbar from 45 metres. "He's disappointed with himself but he still kicked very well," Gatland said.
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Beale, who was allowed to return from two alcohol-related suspensions to play in the series, admitted it had been hard to shake off the disappointment of his first Test miss. "I had to keep upbeat and keep my body language up and I felt I did that," he said. "It did affect me a little bit but in life you have to go forward and the same in rugby. Last night we had the chance to bounce back."
Beale and James O'Connor kicked just four from nine at Suncorp Stadium, but Christian Lealiifano, in just his second Test, slotted four from four in Melbourne - highlighted by his angled conversion to grab a late one-point lead. "It was a massive occasion for me but I was just going through the same process that I do when I'm kicking at practice," Melbourne-raised Lealiifano said. "It was just like kicking in the backyard with my nephews."
Kurtley Beale bounced back from his Brisbane miss © Getty Images