THE Lions are not out of this series. The momentum is with Australia after their late show in Melbourne. But when the disappointment clears, the tourists will begin to wake up to the fact that the game of their lives awaits them in Sydney.
It will be tough and the Wallabies will now start as favourites, but the third Test is an incredible opportunity.
What more motivation could a group of players want than to haul themselves off the canvas and make history in Australia’s backyard?
The bulk of the Lions side is made up of Wales players who have played in a World Cup semi-final and who showed in the Six Nations against England that they know how to handle the big occasion.
The likelihood that Jamie Roberts will be fit is a boost. He is the arrowhead for the Wales attack and can play an equally vital role in Sydney, especially if the match turns into a war of attrition as the second Test did.
It was a game of inches, where the value of a good goalkicker was priceless and you saw what a difference it made to Australia in Christian Leali’ifano going the distance.
What a conversion he put over with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Leigh Halfpenny looked as if his world had collapsed when he failed to land the last kick of the game, but he should not be too hard on himself. He has been one of the Lions’ best players and that penalty was right on the edge of his range.
If the Lions had been able to keep their line intact it would not have come down to that kick but, well as they defended, when you have to do so much tackling there is a danger you will crack, as happened for Adam Ashley-Cooper’s try.
The Lions seemed to sit back on their six-point lead in the second half and invite Australia on to them, but that is a risky game and they were made to pay.
One thing which did please me was the way Mako Vunipola came back from his initial difficulties.
Being penalised twice early on for dropping the scrum put him on the back foot, but he found a way to come through it.
He may have been guilty of boring in to Australia’s tight-head Ben Alexander, but show me a 100 per cent legal scrummager and I will show you a beaten man.
It is the outcome that matters, not whether it is achieved with a halo over your head.
Mako showed he was streetwise enough to adapt under colossal pressure. That will have done wonders for his confi dence ahead of what will be the biggest game of his career.