Beale feels for Lions ace Leigh Halfpenny

JIM MORTON
Last updated 15:04 30/06/2013

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Kurtley Beale empathised with sharpshooter Leigh Halfpenny after the Lions fullback emulated his first test disappointment with a fluffed shot at glory on Saturday night.

For the second consecutive week, a brutal and tense battle was decided with a long-range penalty kick on fulltime but this time it was the Wallabies who celebrated after Halfpenny failed to go the distance at Etihad Stadium.

It was Beale who slipped at Suncorp Stadium as the British and Irish Lions won the series opener 23-21, and he admitted he felt for Halfpenny, who had nailed 27 from 29 attempts on tour before the second Test.

"Obviously I was in the same situation last week, and it's a big kick; it's a massive kick and there's a lot of things going through your head," the Wallabies fullback said on Sunday.

"It's a big ask but he's been striking the ball well all series, I think he's only missed two.

"We were just very lucky at the end."

While Warren Gatland was happy to twist the knife on Beale last week by saying his moulded boots contributed to his 46m miss on a chopped-up surface, the Lions coach shielded Halfpenny from blame for missing his monster halfway shot for the tourists' first series success in 16 years.

The Welsh radarboot finished with five from seven, with his other miss hitting the crossbar from 45m out.

"He's disappointed with himself but he still kicked very well," Gatland said.

Beale, who was allowed to return from two alcohol-related suspensions to play in the monumental series, admitted it had been hard to shake off the disappointment of his first Test miss.

"I had to keep upbeat and keep my body language up and I felt I did that," he said. "It did affect me a little bit but in life you have to go forward and the same in rugby.

"Last night we had the chance to bounce back."

While Beale and James O'Connor kicked just four from nine at Suncorp Stadium, centre Christian Lealiifano, in just his second Test, slotted four from four for the 16-15 win, highlighted by his angled conversion to grab a late one-point lead.

"It was a massive occasion for me but I was just going through the same process that I do when I'm kicking at practice," said Melbourne-raised Lealiifano.

"It was just like kicking in the backyard with my nephews."

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