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Wasteful Wallabies hand Lions opening win

When it comes down to it sport is remembered by moments, poignant passages of play that last only seconds but forever stay in the minds of both passive and avid sports viewers.

For Kurtley Beale, his British Irish Lions campaign of 2013 will be remembered for 20 seconds that could define his career.

At full time the score line read 21-23 and Kurtley Beale was a forlorn man.

Moments earlier Beale who has had a horror 2012 in so many aspects, had missed two critical penalty kicks that would have claimed a historic wallabies win.

In 110 years Brisbane has been disaster zone for Wallabies teams facing the Lions.

In 2001 the Gabba was the scene of an effortless Lions victory that saw Johnny Wilkinson dance around the Gabba surface as if he was some rare untouchable rugby playing inhuman species.

This time the venue was different, the English legend was nursing a groin injury in his South of France Chateu and the Wallabies were playing with confidence seldom seen in their most recent tests.

All 80 minutes of the first match of the 2013 series were contested with tenacity and elite skill, and unlike some highly anticipated Wallabies clashes, the sell-out crowd of 52,000 were not forced to sit through phases of defensive, unattractive rugby.

Pick up any game program listing the two sides and even the most one-eyed Wallabies supporters would acknowledge that the British Irish Lions are a class above the any 15 the Wallabies could possibly field.

Yet from the opening minutes it was clear, coach Robbie Deans had implemented structures designed to nullify the Lion’s star power.

The first receivers were clearly instructed to use the forwards as much as possible to open up the occasionally lose Lions structure and that combined with near perfect execution and discipline saw a classic aussie battler’s story.

James O’Connor joined the Wallabies camp having been the controversial selection as fly-half for the out of favour Quade Cooper.

Although O’Connor waned in the second half, his composure off-loading the ball conceded only one turn over for the match and was a stark contrast to the rushed, error riddled passing game of Cooper and the Lions were on the back foot for several early Wallabies assaults.

The first try however came from the brilliance of Australia’s number 9.

Will Genia broke through a line of Lions forwards and made a brilliant run to the line beating two lions with outstanding goose steps and then opening up Israel Foloau who scored the his first try on his International debut.

The class of the Lions meant there would be an answer though.

Johnny Sexton is probably worth more that than his home country of Irelands GDP, due to his huge pay-day for Racing Metro and he showed why last night.

The fly-half had only one try assist but his off-loading to the Lions backs was a work of prestige art and a huge advantage when a side needs to convert a lineup of individual stars into a cohesive outfit.

Although the Lions looked content to kick for goal from penalties their mindset was attacking enough to put two tries on the board and force Australia onto the last line of defense constantly.

The Welsh wing combination of Alex Cuthbert and George North answered the early try of Foloau and went over consecutively to give the lions a 12 point buffer.

With the Wallabies backs dropping like flies (Christian Leafalano and Patt Mcabe both look set to miss the next match in Melbourne) Wallabies fans were readying for a tough night.

But the Wallabies battled on manfully with Foloau snaring a brilliant second try, presenting the Lions a challenge on the wings they clearly were not anticipating.

Robbie Deans has been pilloried by Australian rugby fans for his outlandish selection methods yet the performances of Liam Gill and Ben Mowen proved depth and potential.

No one likes to lose, especially when Aussie’s lose to Poms but the positive for Australia is that they probably should have won the match.

Enter Kurtley Beale.

Despite last night being an outstanding contest, in five years time the match will be remembered only for the moment when Beale slipped when taking the final kick for goal.

Much of Beale’s 2012 hardship has been brought upon by himself and last night carried a similar theme but a different motive.

Beale’s Melbourne Rebels teammate James O’Connor is the Wallabies second choice as kicker and went over to Beale insisting he take the kick as the clock showed only 20 seconds remained in the match.

It was only seconds earlier that Beale has missed a routine penalty kick that also would have given the Wallabies the lead.

But Beale brought the pressure upon him self and shooed O’Connor away insisting he take the kick.

O’Connor didn’t argue, he’s probably done enough of that with Beale of late, but it showed trust in the former Warratah and the confidence of Beale himself to deliver.

52,000 watched from the stands and millions more abroad as Beale walked in and slipped as he kicked.

Fans in red wen’t up as one some where laughing at the error others completely elated.

Most Australians seemed to have had enough of the Beale drama but you could not help but feel a moment of sympathy for him last night.

As game two approaches both teams will analyse and learn a lot from what was an exhilarating first match.

But when it comes down to it, the miss of Beale will be the only part of the game we remember.

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Aug

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