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Beale offers sympathy to Halfpenny

Kurtley Beale has offered sympathy to Leigh Halfpenny as Australia took their Test series against the British and Irish Lions to a decider in Sydney.

Beale missed what would have been a match-winning penalty with the last kick of the game in the Wallabies' 23-21 defeat in Brisbane, and Halfpenny followed suit in almost identical circumstances in another contest of high drama at Etihad Stadium, that finished with the Lions losing 16-15.

"I was praying a little bit. I was in the same position last week. It's a big kick, a massive kick, and there's a lot of things going through your head," Beale said. "He was striking the ball pretty well, really well, and it just fell short by a couple of metres. We were pretty lucky. I have a little bit of sympathy with Halfpenny."

Beale added: "It was a big ask, but he'd been striking the ball well all series. We were just very lucky in the end, but full credit to our guys for sticking to it for the full 80 minutes."

Beale was outstanding in the first Test - apart from his two missed kicks - and in Melbourne on Saturday he ceaselessly tried to unlock the Lions' defence.

The 24-year-old Melbourne Rebels playmaker, who has returned to the Wallabies fold after undergoing treatment for alcohol-related problems, was able to recover quickly from his failure at Suncorp Stadium.

"I didn't really think about it much. I just had to keep moving on. I couldn't let my role within the team affect the guys around me," he said. "I had to stay upbeat and keep my body language up and I felt I did that. Obviously it did affect me a little bit, but in life you've got to go forward and it's the same in rugby."

Australia's preparations for the third Test at ANZ Stadium will be disrupted by the impending disciplinary hearing involving their captain James Horwill. The International Rugby Board appealed the decision to clear Horwill of stamping on Alun-Wyn Jones in the first Test, and the Queensland Reds lock could miss Saturday's decider.

Given Horwill's magnificent performance at the Etihad Stadium, head coach Robbie Deans will be desperate for him to be cleared on Monday. "These hearings are part of the game I guess. When I started my career as a coach, I didn't realise I was going to need a legal background as well!" Deans said.

"It's not something that excites you greatly, but it's part of the game and it's an important part of the game. We've got a responsibility to the game itself and to the viewing public. It will run its course and then we'll get on with the stuff that really excites these blokes."

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