Lions wing George North feared he was about to suffer another heart breaking last gasp loss to Australia when Kurtley Beale lined up the penalty that would have snatched victory for the Wallabies in Brisbane.
North was mightily relieved to see the Wallaby replacement slip and pull the ball wide to allow the Lions to take a crucial 1-0 lead in the three match series courtesy of a 23-21 victory that featured a brilliant solo try from the Welsh wing.
Wales have suffered eight successive defeats by the Wallabies including a tour here last summer and the 14-12 defeat in the final moments in Cardiff during the Autumn internationals. Now, finally, one of the tight games has gone his way and North, who had a second try ruled out by the video referee, said;” It is always good to get a win and it was close at the end. There was a feeling of deja-vu after the recent Wales games against Australia with last minute kicks. It’s a horrible feeling and the margins are so small.
“It is a difficult position to be in and I wouldn’t have liked to have had to kick that one. My thoughts after I caught the high kick for my try was ‘just run’ and luckily I saw a gap which opened up and it was then a case of stepping and trying to finish it off. We spoke afterwards about the need to play better next weekend and while it is great to get a first win in the series it is going to get tougher. Hopefully, we can ramp it up and we know that wasn’t our best performance.
“I thought that second one was a try but it goes to the TMO and he said it wasn’t so that’s it. I was pretty chuffed with my try in my first Lions Test “
North was supposed to miss this first Test due to the hamstring injury he suffered against the Combined Country XV but constant icing and rehabilitation work with the medical team got him back sooner than anyone expected. The success of that treatment could be seen in the fact that he was operating at full power and lasted the entire match.
North added;”The hamstring is Ok isn’t it! The rehab work went really well and it does put your mind at rest and it went well today. This is a good start for us but we have got a lot of hard work to do for the next test.”
His opposite number Israel Falou scored two tries for the Wallabies and North admitted;” He was outstanding and he is one of the players we are going to have to watch next weekend. “