Lions tour: Genius Will Genia choreographs vital steps in Wallaby waltz

Scrum-half shows leadership and invention to outwit the Lions defence

Big men with bulging biceps do not make a pretty sight when they dissolve into tears, so it felt kinder to leave James Horwill, Australia's captain, and Leigh Halfpenny, the Lions' vanquished goal-kicker, to their emotions at the final whistle of yesterday's error-strewn epic in Melbourne and consider instead the influence of Will Genia.

When the sparky scrum-half booted the ball dead from Halfpenny's brave but off-target kick in the last act of the series-levelling Second Test, he danced like a dervish at the thought of Saturday's decider in Sydney – a match for which Genia, if the widely predicted absence of Horwill due to suspension comes to pass, will probably be skipper.

For Australia's Kurtley Beale and his two missed kicks in the last few minutes of the Lions' two-point First Test win, read Halfpenny this time around. The full-back's first shot was 45 metres out and it hit the bar; his seventh right at the end from a bunny-hop's distance inside his own half dropped short. In between, Halfpenny thumped five penalties through the posts and his tally across this Lions tour had moved on to 32 successes out of 36, but all the spectacular conversions from Perth to Brisbane could not console him in that moment.

Horwill's lachrymation sprang from a different well. The giant lock had been playing on borrowed time, in many observers' eyes, prior to tomorrow's International Rugby Board hearing into how his alleged stamp on Alun Wyn Jones last week had gone unpunished at the first disciplinary examination.

Genia, who has captained Australia before, was overlooked for the honour in this series at the outset, but is well set now in body and mind to take on the challenge.

You could erase the first seven-eighths of yesterday's proceedings from your DVD recording and still be left with enough talking points to fill the next few days, which the Lions will spend on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, trying not to feel under a cloud. They will pitch camp in a town called Noosa, but if anyone steered Australia clear of the hangman's rope it was Genia in the ebb and flow that led to his team's crucial try.

In the 15 phases following a line-out that ended with Adam Ashley-Cooper's relieved tumble over the Lions' line and Christian Leali'ifano's brave conversion, we saw the exemplification of excellence, patience and poise that has been the hallmark of Australian rugby in the past 25 years of two World Cup titles and mostly keeping pace with their southern-hemisphere counterparts, South Africa and New Zealand.

The sequence began – or, more accurately, we can nominate the following as a significant turn of the page in the unfolding story – when the Lions' George North deserted his post in a rash attempt to tackle James O'Connor.

The latter had found it difficult to put a foot right as Australia's fly-half in these first two Tests – yesterday at least he had Beale, his late-night burger-bar mate, to share the load as first receiver – but here he beat North easily and released Israel Folau to charge up the wing where the young Welshman had been.

It led to a penalty in the Lions' 22 which Horwill chose to take as a scrum and from which Folau knocked on when he tried to run a sharp angle off O'Connor's shoulder.

The danger for the Lions was not over, however, as Jonny Sexton was able to kick clear to touch only 15 metres from his goal-line. From the Wallaby line-out, Genia took over. Tidying up Ben Mowen's tap with a dexterous juggle, he set about probing the Lions with the kind of multi-phase movement the tourists had rarely been able to create for themselves. A short pass from the ruck here, a guiding nudge of a forward's back there, and always a cock of the head left and right to check the developing position.

At any moment a wrong move or a fumbled piece of handling – and, blimey, there had been enough of those from both teams beforehand – would have given the Lions their much-coveted series victory.

Moving ever closer to the target of a try that was so necessary with the Lions ahead by six points, Genia dived into the orchestra pit just once to take the ball on himself, before recovering his place as the conductor to make the final pass to Ashley-Cooper via O'Connor, outflanking the exhausted Brian O'Driscoll and Jonathan Davies.

"The momentum is now with Australia, but we won't let that faze us, we have beaten them once," said O'Driscoll who, if Sam Warburton is not fit, may be tossing the coin with Genia in Sydney. "We are very disappointed because we were six points clear, but it's not over, we have now got a massive week to get ourselves ready for the Sydney match on Saturday."

History shows the Lions have never won only the First and Third Tests of a three-match series, but if the likes of Genia, Horwill and Halfpenny have taught us anything it is that the next result between these two teams could go either way.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment