Everything hinged on the final Test of the 2013 Lions Tour.
The tourists had squeaked the first despite some breath-taking rugby from Australia in patches. Kurtley Beale’s muffed late penalty was all that kept them from opening Test defeat. In the second, the Wallabies hit back, and it was Leigh Halfpenny’s turn to feel the pain as his last-gasp penalty fell short.
Australia had the momentum, and the Lions had a mounting injury crisis, with skipper Sam Warburton out and totemic lock Paul O’Connell nursing a broken arm.
But amid the lumps and bumps—and the controversial dropping of Brian O’Driscoll—the Lions found their finest performance in a Test since the first Test 12 years previous in Brisbane.
An early try from Alex Corbisiero settled nerves, but they were jangling again by the break after James O’Connor danced through to score.
After half time, the Lions found fifth gear. Leigh Halfpenny created super tries for Jonny Sexton and George North before Jamie Roberts, back from injury for the decider, stormed through the gold rearguard in trademark fashion to send tens of thousands of Lions fans into ecstasy.