British & Irish Lions 2013: Sexton believes cool heads proved key
British & Irish Lions 2013: Jonny Sexton believes the tourists' ability to remain calm helped seal a series win in Australia
Jonny Sexton has admitted cool heads proved pivotal after the British & Irish Lions thumped Australia 41-16 to seal a first series win for 16 years.
Sexton scored a crucial try – the Lions’ second – in the second half to restore breathing space to the scoreline after the Wallabies had trimmed the gap following the tourists’ fast start.
After Alex Corbisiero’s early try and Leigh Halfpenny’s boot had given the Lions a 19-3 lead, a try from Australian fly-half James O’Connor and two penalties from Christian Leali’ifano saw the lead stand at just three.
But another Lions penalty was swiftly followed by Sexton’s try – even if the tourists faced an anxious wait while referee Romain Poite consulted the TMO to check if Halfpenny’s pass to the Irishman went forward.
And Sexton, who featured in Ireland’s victory over Wales at the start of this year’s Six Nations, believes the Lions’ refusal to panic during Australia’s comeback was key.
“It’s very easy when the momentum goes that you think it’s not your day,” he said.
“I am really proud of the way we stuck in there. No-one changed the plan and no-one panicked (at 19-16), and we swung it back.
“The set-piece was the difference. Obviously, our scrum was dominant, and in the lineout we got a bit of ball and we used George (North), Jamie (Roberts) and Tommy (Bowe) to get us over the gain-line and on the front foot.
“I ran the inside the line for my try, but when I saw it on the replay, I thought ‘oh no, he (referee) is going to do it for a forward pass’ which would have been the biggest let-down ever.
“But thankfully, Leigh’s Halfpenny’s hands went backwards and I caught it behind me.”