Lions hold on in first test as Beale misses

Injured captain Sam Warburton holds the series trophy after victory at ANZ Stadium.
Injured captain Sam Warburton holds the series trophy after victory at ANZ Stadium.
Lions players and staff celebrate their third test and series victory in Sydney.
Lions players and staff celebrate their third test and series victory in Sydney.
Jonathan Sexton celebrates the series victory with Lions fans in the stands.
Jonathan Sexton celebrates the series victory with Lions fans in the stands.
Brian O'Driscoll, dropped for the third test, celebrates the team's victory.
Brian O'Driscoll, dropped for the third test, celebrates the team's victory.
Lions fans pay tribute to former captain Brian O'Driscoll.
Lions fans pay tribute to former captain Brian O'Driscoll.
Lions and Wallabies players show contrasting emotions at the final whistle.
Lions and Wallabies players show contrasting emotions at the final whistle.
Centre Jamie Roberts dives over for a second half try that sealed the Lions' victory.
Centre Jamie Roberts dives over for a second half try that sealed the Lions' victory.
Lions lock Dan Lydiate rises high to take the ball from a lineout.
Lions lock Dan Lydiate rises high to take the ball from a lineout.
Centre Jamie Roberts sprints away from the chasing Wallabies defence.
Centre Jamie Roberts sprints away from the chasing Wallabies defence.
Jamie Roberts (centre) and Conor Murray congratulate Jonathan Sexton on his second half try.
Jamie Roberts (centre) and Conor Murray congratulate Jonathan Sexton on his second half try.
Justin Tipuric is fended off by Wallabies first-five James O'Connor.
Justin Tipuric is fended off by Wallabies first-five James O'Connor.
Lions prop Alex Corbisiero squeezes over for the first try of the deciding test.
Lions prop Alex Corbisiero squeezes over for the first try of the deciding test.
Leigh Halfpenny is consoled by Jonathan Sexton (left) and Sean Maitland after his extra-time penalty to win fell short.
Leigh Halfpenny is consoled by Jonathan Sexton (left) and Sean Maitland after his extra-time penalty to win fell short.
Wallabies players James Horwill and Benn Robinson celebrate as Leigh Halfpenny's kick misses.
Wallabies players James Horwill and Benn Robinson celebrate as Leigh Halfpenny's kick misses.
Wallabies fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper celebrates his match-winning try late in the second test.
Wallabies fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper celebrates his match-winning try late in the second test.
Lions wing George North lifts Israel Folau off the ground in the tackle.
Lions wing George North lifts Israel Folau off the ground in the tackle.
Lions captain Sam Warburton is helped from the field during the second test.
Lions captain Sam Warburton is helped from the field during the second test.
Leigh Halfpenny successfully kicks a penalty in the second half.
Leigh Halfpenny successfully kicks a penalty in the second half.
Lions prop Mako Vunipola charges through the Wallabies' defence.
Lions prop Mako Vunipola charges through the Wallabies' defence.
Lions wing George North evades two Wallabies players.
Lions wing George North evades two Wallabies players.
Alun Wyn Jones receives some treatment on his legs.
Alun Wyn Jones receives some treatment on his legs.
Mako Vunipola wipes his face during a break in play.
Mako Vunipola wipes his face during a break in play.
Lions fans at Etihad Stadium before the second test.
Lions fans at Etihad Stadium before the second test.
Lions fans at Etihad Stadium before the second test.
Lions fans at Etihad Stadium before the second test.
Kiwi-born Scottish international Sean Maitland goes over for one of the British & Irish Lions five tries in their 35-0 rout of the Melbourne Rebels.
Kiwi-born Scottish international Sean Maitland goes over for one of the British & Irish Lions five tries in their 35-0 rout of the Melbourne Rebels.
Melbourne's Cooper Vuna collides with Stuart Hogg going up for a high-ball.
Melbourne's Cooper Vuna collides with Stuart Hogg going up for a high-ball.
Lions centre Manu Tuilagi skips out of the grasp of the Melbourne Rebels' Jason Woodward.
Lions centre Manu Tuilagi skips out of the grasp of the Melbourne Rebels' Jason Woodward.
Five Lions fans spell out their support in Melbourne.
Five Lions fans spell out their support in Melbourne.
Simon Zebo finds space against the Melbourne Rebels.
Simon Zebo finds space against the Melbourne Rebels.
Melbourne's Rob Sidey is tackled off his feet by Brad Barritt.
Melbourne's Rob Sidey is tackled off his feet by Brad Barritt.
The victorious Lions walk up the players' tunnel to the applause of the fans.
The victorious Lions walk up the players' tunnel to the applause of the fans.
Lions players celebrate at the final whistle of the first test in Brisbane.
Lions players celebrate at the final whistle of the first test in Brisbane.
Kurtley Beale slips as he attempts to kick a potential match-winning penalty.
Kurtley Beale slips as he attempts to kick a potential match-winning penalty.
Jonathan Davies (right) gets up-ended as he collides in the air with Kurtley Beale.
Jonathan Davies (right) gets up-ended as he collides in the air with Kurtley Beale.
A fired-up Lions fan celebrates the first test victory.
A fired-up Lions fan celebrates the first test victory.
Jamie Heaslip (left) celebrates after Alex Cuthbert (centre) scored to give the British & Irish Lions the lead.
Jamie Heaslip (left) celebrates after Alex Cuthbert (centre) scored to give the British & Irish Lions the lead.
Israel Folau dives over to score one of his two tries in the first half.
Israel Folau dives over to score one of his two tries in the first half.
Israel Folau denies George North a try in the corner.
Israel Folau denies George North a try in the corner.
Wallabies halfback Will Genia is hit by Jamie Heaslip as he attempts to kick.
Wallabies halfback Will Genia is hit by Jamie Heaslip as he attempts to kick.
George North punches the ball in celebration after scoring in the first half for the Lions.
George North punches the ball in celebration after scoring in the first half for the Lions.
A trio of Irish Lions fans at Suncorp Stadium.
A trio of Irish Lions fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Christian Lealiifano is stretchered off in the opening minutes of the first test.
Christian Lealiifano is stretchered off in the opening minutes of the first test.
Match captain Rory Best lead the dejected British & Irish Lions off the field.
Match captain Rory Best lead the dejected British & Irish Lions off the field.
Lions centre Billy Twelvetrees is lifted off his feet in the tackle by Matt Toomua.
Lions centre Billy Twelvetrees is lifted off his feet in the tackle by Matt Toomua.
ACT Brumbies players celebrate their 14-12 victory over the British & Irish Lions.
ACT Brumbies players celebrate their 14-12 victory over the British & Irish Lions.
Lions wing Shane Williams tries to escape the grasp of Henry Speight.
Lions wing Shane Williams tries to escape the grasp of Henry Speight.
British & Irish Lions wing Christian Wade leaps for a high-ball against the Brumbies' Ian Prior during their tour match at Canberra Stadium.
British & Irish Lions wing Christian Wade leaps for a high-ball against the Brumbies' Ian Prior during their tour match at Canberra Stadium.
Brumbies wing Clyde Rathbone is hit by Christian Wade (left) and Rob Kearney.
Brumbies wing Clyde Rathbone is hit by Christian Wade (left) and Rob Kearney.
Jamie Heaslip of the Lions charges upfield during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Jamie Heaslip of the Lions charges upfield during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Rob Kearney of the Lions breaks with the ball during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Rob Kearney of the Lions breaks with the ball during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Jamie Roberts of the Lions is tackled by John Ulugia during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Jamie Roberts of the Lions is tackled by John Ulugia during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Simon Zebo of the Lions is tackled by Bernard Foley (L) and John Ulugia during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Simon Zebo of the Lions is tackled by Bernard Foley (L) and John Ulugia during the match between the NSW Waratahs and the British & Irish Lions.
Lions No 8 Toby Faletau prepares to pack down into the scrum.
Lions No 8 Toby Faletau prepares to pack down into the scrum.
Three Lion-hooded fans watch the tourists rout Combined Country in Newcastle.
Three Lion-hooded fans watch the tourists rout Combined Country in Newcastle.
Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll is upended in a tackle in Newcastle.
Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll is upended in a tackle in Newcastle.
Brian O'Driscoll slides over to score against Country Combined.
Brian O'Driscoll slides over to score against Country Combined.
Lions forward Sean O'Brien dives over to score in the corner, one of 10 tries in the 64-0 rout.
Lions forward Sean O'Brien dives over to score in the corner, one of 10 tries in the 64-0 rout.
Sean Maitland skips away from the tackle of a Country Combined defender.
Sean Maitland skips away from the tackle of a Country Combined defender.
Ben Youngs (left) is congratulated by Owen Farrell after his second half try against Queensland.
Ben Youngs (left) is congratulated by Owen Farrell after his second half try against Queensland.
Tommy Bowe, with his right arm in a sling, is consoled by Richard Hibbard.
Tommy Bowe, with his right arm in a sling, is consoled by Richard Hibbard.
Queensland's Ben Tapuai is tackled high by a Lions player.
Queensland's Ben Tapuai is tackled high by a Lions player.
Lions wing George North fends off a Queensland Reds player.
Lions wing George North fends off a Queensland Reds player.
Richie Gray reaches back to pull down a lineout throw.
Richie Gray reaches back to pull down a lineout throw.
Lions first-five Owen Farrell takes a penalty kick at goal.
Lions first-five Owen Farrell takes a penalty kick at goal.
Sam Warburton leads the Lions out onto Suncorp Stadium in his debut match.
Sam Warburton leads the Lions out onto Suncorp Stadium in his debut match.
Powerful Irish flanker Sean O'Brien tries to use some fancy footwork to get the ball past the Force's Corey Brown.
Powerful Irish flanker Sean O'Brien tries to use some fancy footwork to get the ball past the Force's Corey Brown.
Lions and England prop Mako Vunipola charges at the Force defence.
Lions and England prop Mako Vunipola charges at the Force defence.
Not many Scots featured for the Lions against the Force but there was plenty Scottish spirit on display in the stands.
Not many Scots featured for the Lions against the Force but there was plenty Scottish spirit on display in the stands.
Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny landed 100 per cent of his attempts at goal for the Lions against the Force.
Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny landed 100 per cent of his attempts at goal for the Lions against the Force.
Lions coach Warren Gatland looks very pleased after his side comfortably beats the Western Force in Perth.
Lions coach Warren Gatland looks very pleased after his side comfortably beats the Western Force in Perth.
Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll leads out the Lions to face the Western Force.
Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll leads out the Lions to face the Western Force.
Lions tour captain Sam Warburton takes in the atmosphere in Perth. He is yet to start a game because of injury.
Lions tour captain Sam Warburton takes in the atmosphere in Perth. He is yet to start a game because of injury.
Celtic cousins: An Irish fan and a Welsh fan unite to support the Lions.
Celtic cousins: An Irish fan and a Welsh fan unite to support the Lions.
Irish wing Tommy Bowe shows why he was selected to tour despite missing the Six Nations for Ireland with injury.
Irish wing Tommy Bowe shows why he was selected to tour despite missing the Six Nations for Ireland with injury.
England and Lions centre Manu Tuilagi takes a run at the Western Force defence.
England and Lions centre Manu Tuilagi takes a run at the Western Force defence.
British and Irish fans are in fine voice as the Lions arrive in Perth to take on Super Rugby side, the Western Force.
British and Irish fans are in fine voice as the Lions arrive in Perth to take on Super Rugby side, the Western Force.
Ireland lock Paul O'Connell, who led the Lions to South Africa in 2009, feels the Hong Kong heat as the touring side take on the Barbarians.
Ireland lock Paul O'Connell, who led the Lions to South Africa in 2009, feels the Hong Kong heat as the touring side take on the Barbarians.
Takudzwa Ngwenya of the Barbarians is tackled by the Lions' Welsh duo of Jamie Roberts and Adam Jones, right.
Takudzwa Ngwenya of the Barbarians is tackled by the Lions' Welsh duo of Jamie Roberts and Adam Jones, right.
Wales halfback Mike Phillips dives over to score for the Lions against the Barbarians.
Wales halfback Mike Phillips dives over to score for the Lions against the Barbarians.
Ireland and Lions first-five Johnny Sexton lines up a shot at goal against the Barbarians.
Ireland and Lions first-five Johnny Sexton lines up a shot at goal against the Barbarians.

Australia's Kurtley Beale slipped over and missed a dramatic last-minute penalty to hand the British and Irish Lions a thrilling 23-21 first test victory at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

The Lions had led from the 26th minute when winger George North scored the first of their two tries but Israel Folau's brace in a brilliant test debut had kept the Wallabies in touch.

Beale, who had played little more than half an hour of senior rugby in the last four months as he battled alcohol problems, had come on as a replacement for one of three Wallabies backs who were taken off the pitch on a stretcher.

The 24-year-old was unable to steal the victory for the home side, however, losing his footing as he ran up to attempt a penalty from 46 metres with seconds remaining.

"It was way too close for comfort. The last 20 minutes was so hard, we really had to dig in," Lions skipper Sam Warburton said in a pitchside interview. "Only half the job done."

The Lions, roared on by at least half the stadium record 52,499 crowd, also had a try from winger Alex Cuthbert, while Leigh Halfpenny added 13 points with the boot to keep the tourists on course for a first series victory since 1997.

"We knew it was going to be tight," said Lions coach Warren Gatland. "In all, not the prettiest performance but I think it was a victory we deserved."

The winner of a first Lions test nearly always takes the series but the home side will take heart from the fact that the exceptions have been in Australia, where the tourists rallied to win in 1989 and the Wallabies came back to triumph in 2001.

"It was very frustrating but I'm proud of the effort we put in," said Australia coach Robbie Deans.

"It was a courageous performance that would stack up alongside any but it disappointing not to get the reward."

As expected, the match was a bruising encounter from the off and Wallabies centre Christian Lealiifano's test debut was ended after less than a minute by a head injury sustained in tackling Jonathan Davies.

Lealiifano had been the nominated place kicker and when Lions centre Brian O'Driscoll was twice penalised at the breakdown and the Wallabies had the chance to open the scoring, O'Connor missed both penalties.

The Lions hit back with a huge shove to win a penalty at the second scrum and kicked for touch before running through around twenty phases deep inside the Wallabies half.

The Australians held firm through a penalty advantage and then won one of their own on their 22 metre line after 14 minutes, Genia taking a quick tap and setting off up the field.

The scrumhalf turned his opposite number Mike Phillips inside and out and kept going before just about getting the ball onto his foot for a wild grubber kick which Folau gathered to sprint across the line.

Halfpenny cut the deficit by three points 10 minutes later and North, a doubt for the match earlier in the week because of a hamstring strain, soon gave the tourists the lead.

Berrick Barnes launched an up-and-under and North swallowed it up, swerving past the tackle of O'Connor, storming through a huge gap in the defence before rounding Barnes and pulling away to score.

The Welshman nearly had a second try in the same corner three minutes later but Folau's tackle just forced his elbow into touch before he could ground the ball. Halfpenny made no mistake with the consolation penalty to put the Lions 13-7 up.

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If it was to be a battle between two powerful wingers, Folau was not done yet and two minutes later he had his brace.

Genia's loop in the midfield gave Australia an extra man but when the ball found Folau on the wing, he apparently had nowhere to go.

In an echo of Jason Robinson's try for the Lions in Brisbane in 2001, though, Folau's step took him past Jonny Sexton, his power through the tackle of Halfpenny and the line opened up in front of him.

O'Connor missed the conversion - the Wallabies left 14 points on the kicking tee during the match - and to make matters worse, the hosts lost fullback Barnes to a head injury, allowing Beale to enter the fray.

His first duties were defensive as the Lions charged back into the Wallabies half with a break up the middle from prop Alex Corbisiero taking them within a couple of metres of the home side's line.

The Wallabies infringed at the subsequent ruck but Halfpenny missed only his second placekick on the tour and the Lions had to be satisfied with a 13-12 halftime lead.

Seven minutes into the second half, the Australians lost a third back, Pat McCabe, to a neck injury forcing flanker Michael Hooper to move into the centres where he started his career.

His first contribution in the backline was a flailing tackle that missed Alex Cuthbert as the Lions winger burst through the midfield and beat two more defenders to touch down.

O'Connor and then Beale kicked penalties for the home side before Halfpenny slotted his third to give the Lions a 23-18 lead with 15 minutes to go.

Beale then added his second penalty, set up by his own break up the middle, but shanked a third with five minutes remaining to keep the Lions just ahead for the dramatic climax.

British & Irish Lions 23 (Alex Cuthbert, George North tries Leigh Halfpenny 2 cons 3 pens) Australia 21 (Israel Folau 2 tries James O'Connor con Kurtley Beale 2, O'Connor pens) at Suncorp Stadium. Referee: Chris Pollock. Crowd: 52,499

Reuters