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BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) – British and Irish Lions assistant coach Andy Farrell says Australia may have peaked a game early, after the Wallabies narrowly won the second Test to take the three-match series to a dramatic decider.
The Wallabies got up 16-15 in the final minutes in Melbourne after scoring the only try of Saturday's encounter through centre Adam Ashley-Cooper four minutes from time. The hosts then saw a potentially series-winning penalty kick from Lions superboot Leigh Halfpenny drop short after the full-time siren.
At a news conference late Sunday on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, where the Lions are having a few days break before heading to Sydney for Saturday's decider, Farrell rejected suggestions the Lions might find it hard to pick themselves up for the Third Test after winning the first Test 23-21 in Brisbane.
Instead defence coach Farrell said it could be Australia that feels the emotional let-down.
"I thought you saw after the game emotionally what it meant to Australia, especially the captain," Farrell told reporters, after watching James Horwill's emotional post-match tears.
"It meant an awful lot to them to stay in the race. How much that would take out of Australia I think would be interesting to find out this coming week."
Farrell said Australia rose to the occasion in Melbourne after the disappointment of falling just short in Brisbane and he was confident the Lions would do the same in Sydney.
"I think there's absolutely no doubt that we can definitely turn this hurt around within a couple of days and produce a performance that we know we're capable of," he said.
"I think we all realise that there's a fantastic performance in every team and I don't think we've seen that fantastic performance out of this squad yet.
"Hopefully you'll see the best at the last hurdle come Saturday."
The Lions are bidding to win their first series since 1997 and lost 2-1 on their last tour to Australia in 2001 after winning the first Test.
Farrell said the Wallaby scrum, which was sufficiently confident after some early dominance in choosing to re-scrum against the Lions rather than take a penalty kick, was given more leeway than the Lions by South African referee Craig Joubert.
"From what I could see there were a few decisions that went against us, especially early. But after that I thought you saw a dominant scrum going forward on quite a few occasions," he said.
"I did see a tighthead forward for Australia two foot up in the air - that says a lot to me.
"I think Australia are very street-wise, playing the referee. There's no doubt about that, they're very smart.
"And I'm not complaining at all, I thought the referee had a good game. But they're very street-wise.
"We got done for coming over the side of the lineout. Did they come over ours? Of course they did.
"Were they on the wrong side of the lineout and getting through the maul? Of course they did. But that's the game."