AUSTRALIA claimed a tense 16-15 triumph over the British and Irish Lions in the second Test at Melbourne last night to keep their series hopes alive.
The Lions, who will train at Sunshine Beach this week ahead of the crunch third and final Test in Sydney next Saturday, won the opening Test by two points in Brisbane a week ago but let slip a lead to lose last night's encounter.
Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a penalty from the 22m line after hitting the crossbar with an earlier attempt from near halfway.
Centre Christian Lealiifano levelled the scores after the visitors were penalised for a scrum infringement under pressure from the Wallabies pack.
The Lions scrum folded again and Lealiifano propelled the host to a 6-3 lead.
But then the Australian pack collapsed in a scrum and Halfpenny equalised from 45m. Another penalty against the Wallabies scrum allowed Halfpenny to provide his side with a 9-6 lead.
The Lions were pinned for offside soon after and Lealiifano levelled the scores from almost 40m.
But Halfpenny gave his side a 12-9 advantage at the break when Wallabies flanker Ben Mowen failed to release after making a tackle.
In front of a ground record crowd of 56,771, the Wallabies scrum was penalised again and Halfpenny capitalised from almost 50m to give the Lions a 15-9 lead midway through the second stanza.
Adam Ashley-Cooper crashed over in the 76th minute after some sustained pressure from the Wallabies to close the gap to 15-14.
Lealiifano then struck a testing conversion to provide his side with a 16-15 lead.
Halfpenny's last ditch penalty attempt from 50m fell short.
Lions fans will hold some concern for captain Sam Warburton, who left the field with injury during the second half.
(A. Ashley-Cooper try; C. Lealiifano conv, 3 pens)
BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS 15
(L Halfpenny 5 pens) at Etihad. Crowd: 56,771