Australia fights back to level series with win over Lions

LBOURNE, Reuters

Winger Joe Roff scored two tries in 10 minutes as world champions Australia produced a surging second-half comeback to beat the British and Irish Lions 35-14 on Saturday and level the three-match series at 1-1.

A pushover try for recalled flanker Neil Back and two Jonny Wilkinson penalties gave the Lions a deserved 11-6 lead at halftime but Roff crossed 35 seconds after the break and again 10 minutes later to put the resurgent Wallabies ahead.

With scrumhalf George Gregan back to his best and the forwards far more competitive, the Wallabies looked a different team from the one that was outclassed a week ago. Matt Burke added a third try after 65 minutes and three more penalties.

The Lions went to pieces in the second half, losing the ball at their own scrums and lineouts and dropping passes. They had only a Wilkinson penalty to show for their efforts.

The series will be decided in front of 81,000 people in Sydney’s Olympic stadium next Saturday. But with flyhalf Wilkinson being carried off on a stretcher after 75 minutes, the odds have swung strongly back in favour of the Wallabies.