SERIES 1 – 1
The British and Irish Lions levelled the series at one apiece with a 24-21 victory over the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
Tries from Toby Faletau and Conor Murray as well as 14 points from Owen Farrell’s boot proved too much for the All Blacks who scored through seven penalties from Beauden Barrett.
The last time the All Blacks went tryless in a game was in a 12-12 draw against Australia in Sydney back in August 2014.
This levels the series at 1-1 with the third Test to take place at Eden Park now set up as a mouthwatering decider.
As expected, it was an extremely physical and bruising encounter with the regular exchange of handbags and off-the-ball scuffles.
The wet slippery conditions made handling difficult and resulted in a stop-start game where both sides struggled for continuity on attack.
Lions coach Warren Gatland would not have been happy with his side’s indiscipline as they conceded far too many penalties and made too many silly errors, especially since they enjoyed numerical advantage for three quarters of the game after Sonny Bill Williams’ red card.
However, Gatland’s men came through and won the game although they were almost left kicking themselves having dominated the possession an territory stakes.
The first scoring opportunity went astray as Beauden Barrett’s penalty hit the post but he made no mistake with his second attempt on the 20-minute mark to give the All Blacks the lead after the Lions were guilty of going offside.
However, Owen Farrell levelled matters with an excellent kick from out wide on the left touchline after the All Blacks this time were penalised for offside.
But in an incredible twist, Williams was given a red card for a no-arms shoulder charge to the face of Anthony Watson in the 25th minute. Ngani Laumape came on for Jerome Kaino as the All Blacks’ coaching staff decided to go one short in the scrum.
Barrett and Farrell exchanged two further penalties apiece as the sides went in to the interval drawn at 9-9.
The Lions’ poor discipline continued after the break. The All Blacks profited off this with two more Barrett penalties before Mako Vunipola was yellow-carded for a no-arms clear-out at the ruck. Not the first time Vunipola was guilty of using no arms in the tackle. Maro Itoje was himself lucky not to escape with sanction of for also being a repeat offender.
Barrett added another penalty with a quarter of the game to go giving the All Blacks a nine point buffer at 18-9 which meant the Lions needed to score more than a converted try.
The Lions finally scored with a sweeping team move to bring the deficit to back four. After Watson showed good pace to make a break down the right wing on the overlap, the ball was swept out to the left wing by the Lions where Faletau collected before bumping off Israel Dagg to finish in the corner. Powerful finish from Faletau when he looked odds-on to be pushed out into touch.
Barrett restored the lead to seven with his seventh penalty at 21-14 with yet another penalty. However, the Lions hit back with a converted try. Jamie George made the line break before being brought down five metres out from the All Blacks’ try-line and from the ruck Conor Murray’s excellent sniping break ensured he dotted down.
With the scores levelled at 21-21, Farrell showed composure and big-match temperament under pressure to slot the match-winning penalty and send the large Lions’ travelling support into rapturous celebrations.
NEW ZEALAND – 21
Penalties: Beauden Barrett (13′,31′,36′,47′,53′,58′,66′)
Red Card: Sonny Bill Williams (24′)
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS – 24
Tries: Taulupe Faletau (59′), Conor Murray (68′)
Penalties: Owen Farrell (22′,33′,40+2′,77)
Cons: Owen Farrell (69′)
Yellow Card: Mako Vunipola (55′)
2017: New Zealand won 30-15 in Auckland
2005: New Zealand won 38-19 in Auckland
2005: New Zealand won 48-18 in Wellington
2005: New Zealand won 21-3 in Christchurch
1993: New Zealand won 30-13 in Auckland
1993: British and Irish Lions won 20-7 in Wellington
1993: New Zealand won 20-18 in Christchurch
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ngani Laumape
British & Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell
Date: Saturday, July 1
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)