CAPTAIN Conor Mitchell was immensely proud after his last-gasp score ensured Australia won their first World University Championship title as they edged Great Britain 24-20 in a thrilling final in Swansea.
Patrick Jenkinson and Christopher Levesley set the final alight as the Brits raced out to a 10-0 lead in pursuit of their third successive title.
But the Uniroos refused to lie down, Thomas Merrit, Fred Dorrough and Lachlan Anderson firing the Aussies into a 19-10 half-time lead.
Samuel Pointon and James Beal edged the hosts 20-19 ahead by the time the hooter sounded, but Mitchell had the final say when he nipped over to break British hearts.
And the Australian skipper Mitchell, of Queensland University of Technology (QUT), could not contain his excitement.
“I’m stoked, it was an awesome feeling, I thought the game was lost when Great Britain had that scrum, but I always had faith in the boys,” he said.
“I knew if we could get the ball we could find away to the line and I am ecstatic.
“Great Britain are a real quality side and it showed out there, but the boys dug in deep and it is just such an unbelievable feeling to win it."
“We hung on to the ball well and we applied pressure in defence well to make sure we could win the ball back.”
Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Levesley was again superb for GB – and at 10-0 up within five minutes, they looked to have put their 19-12 group-stage loss behind them.
Australia refused to lie down though and Thomas Merrit’s superb solo effort proved the catalyst for their first fight-back.
But with Jack Rossiter increasingly prominent in the second-half, Pointon and Levesley’s Cardiff Met team-mate Beal looked to have sealed the win for Great Britain before Mitchell stole the show.
Durham University’s Robert Stevenson admitted it was the cruellest of losses.
“Getting to the final is no mean feat and everyone left it out on the pitch, you can’t ask for much more than that, but we had the gold medals in our hands after the hooter had gone,” the 20-year-old said.
“We just didn’t quite get over the line, but I am immensely proud of all the boys and all they have put in over the past week.
“I think everyone could see how much wearing the shirt meant to us and getting second the world wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but there isn’t anything to be ashamed about.”
Final score: Australia 24 - 20 Great Britain
Australia Tries: 1 L.Anderson, 1 F.Dorough, 1 T.Merrit, 1 C.Mitchell
Conversion: 2 F.Dorough
Great Britain Tries: 1 P.Jenkinson, 1 C.Levesley, 1 S.Poiton, 1 J.Beal