British & Irish Lions beat Australia 23-21 in first Test in Brisbane

NORTH STAR: British & Irish Lions' George North goes over to score his team's first try during the First Test match at the Suncorp Stadium

NORTH STAR: British & Irish Lions' George North goes over to score his team's first try during the First Test match at the Suncorp Stadium

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THE BRITISH & Irish Lions are one up in the Test series in Australia – but only just.

Wales wings George North and Alex Cuthbert scored tries in each half as they inspired the Lions to a pulsating 23-21 first Test triumph at Suncorp Stadium.

North’s breathtaking 60-metre solo effort will go down as one of the great Lions touchdowns, while Cuthbert pounced early in the second period.

A game of brutal intensity saw three Australian players – centre Christian Leali’ifano, full-back Berrick Barnes and substitute Pat McCabe – carried off, which meant openside flanker Michael Hooper playing the final 30 minutes in midfield.

But the Wallabies, mainly through a brilliant try double from debutant wing Israel Folau pushed the Lions to the limit, and they would have won if replacement full-back Kurtley Beale had kicked just one of two late penalties.

His second, right at the death, fell short after he slipped at the key moment.

Australia were ultimately punished for their goal-kicking lapses – 14 points went begging from the boot – as Beale and James O’Connor struggled for consistency.

In contrast, though, Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny landed five out of six shots, and the tourists now head to Melbourne knowing that victory next Saturday would give them a first Test series triumph since they toppled South Africa 16 years ago.