LONDON (AFP) – The Lions' thrilling 23-21 first Test win over Australia was "larceny" and the rest of the series will be a similarly nerve-shredding affair, the Sunday newspapers warned.
Australia's Kurtley Beale slipped and missed a penalty in the dying seconds Saturday as the British and Irish Lions edged to victory in Brisbane to move to the verge of a long-awaited series win.
Steve James wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that Lions kicker Leigh Halfpenny was worth his weight in gold while Beale would be left nursing the strain of defeat.
"Just imagine being an Australian throughout the match, and especially in the synapses-shredding finale," he wrote.
"Sadly for Beale nobody will remember his general play in this match. He will always be the man under whose left foot the first Test slipped.
"Without a solid base no man can kick anything. That was it. The Lions had stolen a victory. And it was a steal, larceny at its most brazen.
"Halfpenny was the difference. The Lions had a goal kicker, and the Australians did not. That almost always counts in Test rugby."
Former England prop David Flatman wrote in The Independent on Sunday that referee Chris Pollock's handling of the game was wrong, but had made for a thrilling encounter.
"What a win for the Lions. It was massive, but it was a game of incredibly fine margins," he wrote.
"The only change I would make for next week would be to include Ben Youngs at scrum-half from the start. Mike Phillips just did not fire.
"His kicking was too often long and seemingly -- when watching potential chasers -- unannounced. And watching him jog after the galloping (Will) Genia made for painful viewing."
The Mail on Sunday's Patrick Collins said veteran Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll could guide the younger Lions over the finish line in the three-Test series.
"Despite the victory, the task remains ferociously daunting," he wrote.
"For in this first Test, Australia suffered all manner of cruel injury and base misfortune. Since they are unlikely to be dealt such a hand for the rest of this series, it becomes important to exploit their current plight.
"The series is still open, dangerously so. The Australians are not beaten, merely wounded. If the Lions are to prevail, they will need the best efforts from their best men. Brian O'Driscoll has heard the call, and his response may shape the fate of this entrancing series."
Former Wales number eight Eddie Butler said cool heads from now on will decide which way the series goes.
"It would appear that the next two weeks are not going to be easy on the nerves of the rugby-loving population," he wrote in The Observer.
"It was a malfunctioning foot that ended it, but it will be heads that decide this series, heads that can sift through the issues of selection and stay calm in the stressful days ahead. May your own nerves survive the journey."