It may seem like schadenfreude to bask in the misfortune of Australia’s Kurtley Beale but his missed kicks in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions are among the key contributors to the tourists’ first series win in 16 years.
Twice Beale was handed the opportunity to kick the Qantas Wallabies into a late lead in Brisbane – indeed the second chance was to win the match.
But first he was wayward and second he slipped and the British & Irish Lions crucially drew first blood in a series they went on to secure – a first in 16 years.
“It is a game of rugby, everyone wears rugby boots. It was just unfortunate the grass was a bit loose under the feet. I don't think it will be any different this week,” said Beale.
“There are no excuses, that's just rugby. I have played on rugby fields all over the world, and Suncorp Stadium was no different. It was just unlucky.
“I was trying to find a place to put the tee, and to be honest, I didn't really think about the ground. I was just thinking of my process. I was just thinking of me and the ball, and that was it. It was just bad luck there, I guess.”
After a wonderful break from Will Genia handed Israel Folau the first try of the match, George North hit back with a superb score of his own and despite a second score from Folau, Leigh Halfpenny’s boot ensured the Lions a slender advantage at half-time.
Indeed Halfpenny’s accuracy and Australia’s kickers’ lack of it was a key theme of the first Test.
In the second half, Alex Cuthbert’s excellent try on 48 minutes gave the Lions some breathing space but back came Australia with one penalty from O’Connor and two from Beale.
Fortunately for the Lions, Halfpenny had also added another, ensuring that with 15 minutes left on the clock, they still had a two-point lead – even if they were to present Australia with two shots at victory.
The first was far from easy but Beale’s effort never looked like threatening the posts, although the second seemed harder to miss – only for the replacement, who in fairness had an outstanding match, to lose his footing at the crucial moment.
"It was one of the worst minutes of my life. I thought it was going to go over to be honest," said Warburton, who had endured a similar fate in Australia with Wales 12 month previous.
"I thought I was in the same situation as last year with Wales," added Warburton.
"It has happened way too many times before. When it is taken out of your hands with a kick, all you can do is watch.
"We gave away cheap penalties so there's plenty to work on, but it's a massive achievement to come out here and get the win.”
That was not the last of the dramatic late kicks during the three Tests but Beale’s misfortune had a major say in the Lions’ taking an early lead – and eventually the series.