A late penalty conceded by Ireland’s Ronan O’Gara cost the Lions the second test and the series against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.
The sides were level at 25 points apiece when O’Gara was penalized in the final seconds of an intriguing encounter and Morne Steyn converted the penalty.
The huge Steyn kicked ensured South Africa took an unbeatable 2-0 lead into Saturday’s final game in Johannesburg and broke the Lions’ hearts after a brave performance.
A brilliant performance from Rob Kearney, including an early try, helped the Lions to a 16-8 interval lead, but they just couldn’t hold on at the death.
Lions captain Paul O’Connell told Sky Sports, “It was very disappointing the way it all panned out. We had a lot of injuries and I suppose they told.
“It was tough but we just didn’t play enough in the second half. We were all over them when we played in the first half.
“I thought we did enough to get the draw and keep the series alive. Before I came on tour I knew we could do it, but we needed to do it for 80 minutes.
“We did it for the second 40 last week and the first 40 this week. The commitment was incredible, all the lads are so proud and want to win for the Lions.”
The game wasn’t without controversy as well. South African flanker Schalk Burger was sin binned for gouging Luke Fitzgerald in the first minute and later picked up a two month ban after he was cited.
Many felt Burger should have been sent off, including Irish winger Fitzgerald.
“It’s quite a strange decision. If the referee decided that’s what he was going to card him for then it should have been a red,” said Fitzgerald. “I guess part of it was because it was at the start of the game and he didn’t want to spoil it as a spectacle.
“But you’d want to feel that the referee would deal with something like that quite severely. I was surprised that someone of Burger’s quality would have done something like that.”