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.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?