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SYDNEY (AFP) – Leigh Halfpenny bounced back from the anguish of missing a series-clinching kick in the second Test to produce a man of the match performance as the British and Irish Lions won their first series against the Wallabies in 16 years this weekend.
The Welsh fullback was in utter despair the previous week after leaving his last gasp penalty attempt from halfway just short as the Wallabies held on to level the series with a 16-15 win in Melbourne.
But Halfpenny used the disappointment as motivation for a record-breaking performance as he kicked 21 points in the Lions' thumping 41-16 victory over the Australians in the final Sydney Test on Saturday.
The Cardiff Blues custodian, 24, broke Australia's hearts with a deadly haul of five penalties and three conversions to be named man of the match and the series.
Halfpenny, who finished the Test series with 49 points from five conversions and 13 penalties, featured in two tries and only missed one kick in nine attempts in Saturday's showdown before over 83,000 fans.
The Welshman said the missed kick in Melbourne had preyed on his mind and he was determined to make amends to his teammates.
"It was hard after the game and I was pretty down. It was tough, really tough, because I had the chance to win it for the Lions and I didn't take it," admitted Halfpenny.
"That's what all the hard work is for, for moments like that. I was devastated at not being able to do it. It took me a few days to shake it off.
"But we had another chance and people made that clear to me. Not often in sport do you get a second chance.
"I had to put it behind me, but I also used the experience. I didn't want to feel like that again so I used it as a motivation because the disappointment can stay with you.
"I wanted to be a part of a Lions series win and it helped me this time. I worked harder and harder in training and it all paid off."
Halfpenny, hailed as iconic in world rugby by Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones, was one of the stars of the tour with 114 points from his spot on kicking.
"The contrast in dressing rooms after games can always be extreme. Last week was as low as I ever want to feel, but this was just incredible -- the feeling is unbelievable," he said.
"To play like that and win like that is something that will live with me forever.
"It's amazing to be a part of a Lions Test series win. It's why you work so hard, for moments like this. We are delighted with this, we've made history."