Lions tour: Crying shame for James Horwill as appeal is likely to rule him out of Sydney finale
Sunday 30 June 2013
James Horwill finished with tears in his eyes after leading Australia to their dramatic win to send the series into a deciding match in Sydney next Saturday – a historic moment he could miss.
That is the danger facing the Wallaby captain, and explained the emotion that he could not control after his team had finally found a way of breaking through the Lions defence before having to pray that Leigh Halfpenny's long-range penalty with the last kick of the match failed.
Last Saturday in Brisbane Australia's full-back, Kurtley Beale, missed a kick to win the match. This time it was the Lions who came up short, and now Horwill must rely on his powers of persuasion to avoid a possible ban for making contact with the face of Alun Wyn Jones with his boot in the First Test.
Tomorrow Horwill will take part in a conference call to face an IRB appeal heard by Graeme Mew, a Canadian official, over the "not guilty" verdict he received after the initial citing.
Any ban would rule him out of the deciding match and force scrum-half Will Genia to take over the captaincy. Horwill spoke of his pride at leading his country and having the chance to clinch the series – a feat that would repeat the success of the Wallabies in the 2001 Lions series.
"It would be a huge honour to captain this team to a series win and I love every time I pull on this jersey," he said. "It means a hell of a lot to me, and to do it in a game of that magnitude would be huge."
Asked about Halfpenny's late chance, Horwill added: "I just hoped he missed because he has hardly missed a kick on tour. Your pulse rate goes up in that situation. It was credit to the Lions that they had a kick right at the death to win and now it's a case of all bets off.
"It comes down to one game and what is effectively a Grand Final in Sydney next weekend, and so you don't worry about what has gone before in the previous two Tests.
"There was a bit of relief and also jubilation in the dressing room after the match because we found a way to win, and that is what teams have to do in this kind of situation . It probably wasn't a pretty game or as entertaining as last weekend with the try coming so late in the match. The most important part is getting the win.
"The games have come down to two points and one point, and it will be just as close next week.
"It comes down to critical moments and these are intense, big battles. It is about one tiny moment and we saw that tonight. We knew what we had to do and we struggled to build pressure because they were very good at the breakdown. We pushed the pass too much and need to understand to hold on to the ball and be composed. We were guilty of not doing that."
Jonny Sexton, the Lions fly-half, still believes the tourists can win the series. "We are very disappointed and didn't play well enough or control the set-pieces," he said. "It was a big ask for Leigh to kick the penalty from there but he had to take it on.
"We were 1-0 up and should have gone 2-0, and maybe were wishing the game was over rather than going for it. We are still one win away from taking the series."
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