There is something ominously familiar about the position the Wallabies find themselves in heading into the must-win second Test against the British and Irish Lions in Melbourne.

On countless occasions during the past two years, they have produced their best performances when facing sudden death. There was a desperate World Cup quarter-final against South Africa, redemption against Argentina after a thumping on the highveld and triumph at Twickenham after humiliation at the hands of the French last November.

Ben Alexander, as proud a front-row grafter as there ever was, knows the Wallabies have, historically at least, produced when they’re fighting for survival.

”You look at last year, with our backs against the wall is when we performed best … that’s when you see the best in this side and as a group we will definitely draw on our track record,” Alexander said.

”For Australian rugby it’s a massive thing, we love playing against all the European nations, there is that close bond with the history of how Australia was formed. We’ll never get another chance at this. We had one chance already, we missed that on the weekend, but we still have two more games and we’re ready to make amends for that starting this Saturday.”

Two days is a long time in Test rugby and momentum turns on a 10-cent piece. On Sunday morning the Lions basked in the afterglow of their two-point win, while the Wallabies contemplated the second Test without their captain James Horwill and no less than five of their starting back line.

Twenty-four hours later Horwill had been cleared of foul play, key playmaker Christian Lealiifano was on the mend and the Lions were regretting the loss of injured second-rower Paul O’Connell.

It was a shift not lost on Alexander, who will play his 50th Test at the weekend and knows the Wallabies need more than good fortune to get out of this tight spot.

”The momentum we gain is how we came out of the game, feeling as though there were areas we could attack and feeling that we should have won,” he said. ”That’s enough momentum to carry us through to the next game. We should have won the game, we didn’t, so there’s areas we need to fix, but that confidence gives us momentum as a group.” Players thought they saw O’Connell suffer the fracture in his arm that ruled him out of the series on Saturday. It was not officially announced until late on Sunday night.

”Our physio said ‘he’s just broken his arm there’ before the last few scrums, but he got up, so we thought maybe not, and he packed those last few scrums with a busted arm and we shook hands with him after the game,” Alexander said.

”They’re going to miss that hardness that the Europeans see week in, week out, when he plays for Munster and Ireland. He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever played against and I think he’s a big loss for the Lions.”

The Australian pack will also be boosted by George Smith’s early return from a knee injury.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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