"We can still achieve our dream" - Warburton
June 29, 2013
Leigh Halfpenny watches in dismay as his last-second kick falls short © Getty Images
Lions captain Sam Warburton soaked up the disappointment of an agonising 16-15 second Test defeat to Australia before defiantly declaring: "our dream is still alive".
The Lions were on course for a first series triumph since 1997 as they led for most of the match in Melbourne and had a chance to snatch the win with a 50-metre penalty with the last act of the game.
However, like Australia's Kurtley Beale last weekend as the Lions snatched a dramatic 23-21 win in Brisbane, Leigh Halfpenny could not convert and the home side were able to celebrate a series-tying victory to set up a grandstand finale in Sydney next Saturday.
Warburton said: "We're going through what Australia went through last week. It's disappointing now, but I think the boys will wake up tomorrow and realise that we've still got a Test series up for grabs. And we've got every chance of doing that.
"We have to pick ourselves back up now, and there's some good stuff in there. We're definitely capable of taking the Test series, we've shown that for two games. It's going to be won be a whisker next week, and I hope it's us."
He added: "We can still achieve our dream, it's still alive. I know fans at home will be disappointed but it's game on for next week. Once we've got over this defeat, I know the boys will be flying into next weekend with every hope and chance of winning the Test series."
Warburton limped out of the action late on with what looked like a hamstring injury and the Lions now face a nervy wait to see if he will be fit to lead the team out next weekend. Asked about the injury, the Welshman said: "Not sure, I felt something in my hammy so I've had some ice on it already. The physios will assess it in 24 hours' time and fingers crossed from there."
Brian O'Driscoll could not contain his disappointment at the defeat but, like Warburton, was clear about the Lions' potential to secure their first series victory in 16 years next weekend.
O'Driscoll admitted the Lions were a "bit loose", saying on Sky Sports: "Obviously we're very disappointed. We were ahead in the leaderboard, we got six points clear, that's a horrible margin, a converted try and you're behind. They battled away and, we were a bit loose with aspects of our game and gave them opportunities to build the platform to get their score."
However, the veteran centre also insisted: "It's very disappointing but it's not over. We've got one massive week next week, both from a mental point of view and a physical point of view to get ourselves right for Saturday in Sydney. We knew it was never going to come easy and they made it tough on us."
Of next weekend's decider, the Irishman added: "It's huge, the momentum from this game is with them but we won't let that phase us, we'll dig deep. We were able to beat them once and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to do it again if we can get our game right."
Lions head coach Warren Gatland, who reported a clean bill of health other than Warburton, denied the balance of power in the series has shifted towards Australia. The tourists depart for Sunshine Coast holiday resort Noosa tomorrow when Gatland begins the process of lifting spirits for the Lions' last ditch attempt at winning a series for the first time in 16 years.
"It's 1-1 and we have a big game next weekend. We'll look after ourselves in the next couple of days and we'll look forward to it," he said. "This was another close one that could have gone either way. In fairness to Australia, they kept going for 80 minutes. It was a tough, tough Test match. I don't think the momentum is with Australia now - we saw how close that game was."
Warren Gatland: 'Next week will be a big game'
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