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Leigh Halfpenny

Lions smash Australia in Sydney to clinch series as Drico-gate is forgotten

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Leigh Halfpenny

Australia ………… 16 pts

Lions ……………. 41 pts

Warren Gatland’s controversial selection came up trumps as the Lions hammered Australia in Sydney to clinch a first series win in 16 years.

The furore caused by Gatland’s decision to drop Brian O’Driscoll for the third and decisive test was forgotten as his team ran riot.

Irish international Jonny Sexton grabbed a crucial second-half try, Sean O’Brien was a constant thorn in the Aussie defence and substitute scrum-half Conor Murray excelled as the Lions won handsomely.

A converted first minute try from prop Alex Corbisiero and four Leigh Halfpenny kicks helped the Tourists to a 19-10 half-time lead.

They withstood huge pressure as the Aussies go within three points on the resumption before another Halfpenny kick and Sexton’s breakthrough try made it 29-16.

And the game was all but over when Murray sent George North crashing through for a decisive try before Jamie Roberts finished the job with a five pointer and Halfpenny brought his tally for the evening to 21 points.

And even though he was left out of the team on his final Lions tour, O’Driscoll led the applause for those who played on the pitch afterwards and was magnanimous in his praise for his team-mates.

O’Driscoll said: “Obviously I’m delighted. It’s been a roller-coaster week. It was emotional sitting there. I might not have played in the game that clinched the series but I will always have it on my CV.

“We really gelled well as a team. We’ve won the series and any of the negatives felt through the tour will be forgotten. It feels good.”

Winning coach Gatland said: “I’ve got very mixed emotions The last three or four days have been pretty hard. It was a tough call to leave Brian O'Driscoll out.

“You always doubt decisions you make, but you have to make those hard calls. I have taken a bit of flack. It was about the boys today and winning the series. It was an outstanding performance. We started well, came under some pressure and bounced back.”

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