Lions edge thrilling first Test
Wales wings George North and Alex Cuthbert scored tries in each half as they inspired the Lions to a pulsating 23-21 first Test triumph against Australia at Suncorp Stadium.
North's breathtaking 60-metre solo effort will go down as one of the great Lions touchdowns, while Cuthbert pounced early in the second period. A game of brutal intensity saw three Australian players - Christian Leali'ifano, Berrick Barnes and Pat McCabe - carried off, which meant openside flanker Michael Hooper playing the final 30 minutes in midfield.
But the Wallabies, mainly through a brilliant try double from debutant wing Israel Folau pushed the Lions to the limit, and they would have won if replacement full-back Kurtley Beale had kicked just one of two late penalties, the second falling short after he slipped at the key moment with the last kick of the game.
Australia were punished for their goal-kicking lapses - 14 points went begging from the boot - as Beale and James O'Connor struggled. In contrast Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny landed five out of six shots, and the tourists head to Melbourne knowing victory next Saturday would give them a first series triumph since they toppled South Africa 16 years ago.
The Wallabies suffered an immediate blow when Leali'ifano was knocked out after he attempted a tackle on Jonathan Davies. O'Connor then missed two penalties in quick succession, but scrum-half Will Genia embarked on a weaving 50-metre run then kicked into space and Folau marked his Test debut by producing a trademark finish.
O'Connor added the conversion, but Halfpenny opened the Lions' account before North conjured his moment of magic. Gathering Barnes' kick 10 metres inside his own half, he set off on a remarkable run that saw him beat three defenders before showboating in Genia's face and touching down for one of the great Lions tries.
Halfpenny converted and kicked a penalty to hoist the Lions six points clear, but after denying North another try by getting his hand underneath the ball, Folau pounced for his second try when he cut inside Jonathan Sexton and handed off Lions prop Alex Corbisiero for another devastating finish.
O'Connor could not convert, though, and there was another blow for Australia when Folau and Barnes clashed heads, resulting in Barnes following Leali'ifano in being carried off and that meant an appearance for Beale, who was back in the Wallabies' Test 23 following his much-publicised problems with alcohol.
The Lions trooped off at half-time 13-12 ahead. McCabe's exit early in the second period caused more disruption for Australia, and the Lions capitalised immediately when the strong-running Cuthbert powered over on an angled 35-metre run and Halfpenny's conversion secured an eight-point advantage.
O'Connor responded by kicking a 51st-minute penalty, yet the Wallabies' injury curse struck again when McCabe departed nursing a neck injury. Beale and Halfpenny exchanged penalties before Beale landed another three-pointer. Beale had two chances to win it but sent one kick spiralling wide and then, with the final action, he slipped leaving the Lions to celebrate.