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Pride of the Lions evident in Eden Park classic

Sam Warburton

(Captain Sam Warburton leads out the 2017 Lions)
Third test, Eden Park, Auckland (Saturday, July 8,2017):
New Zealand 15, British and Irish Lions 15
AFTER a game befitting any big rugby occasion, the British and Irish Lions and the New Zealand All Blacks served up a classic this morning in this final game of the current tour. The draw was a fair result but the Lions can be very pleased with their share of the series.
The tourists got the perfect start to the second half and reduced the 12-6 NZ lead to just three points, Elliot Daly landing a monstrous kick after the Blacks had messed up the restart kick. The Lions were fully determined to fight every inch of the way and when Kaino was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Alun Wyn-Jones, Owen Farrell levelled the tie at 12-12 on 58 minutes. As both sides rang the changes, Beauden Barrett put the home side 15-12 in front but again the Lions roared back, Farrell’s long distance penalty setting up a dramatic finale at 15-15.
There was more drama as the clock headed into the red zone. From the restart referee Poite penalised Lions Ken Owens for playing the ball in an offside position but after lengthy TMO discussion, the decision was changed to ‘accidental offside’ and the All Blacks were deprived of what would have been a Pyrric victory.
New Zealand dominated first half territory and they deserved their 12-6 lead at the break. Beauden Barrett missed an early chance at the posts and the home side butchered three try chances over the next 30 minutes. The opening score came after 14 minutes, Beauden Barrett kicking towards the right hand corner, Jordi Barrett knocked the ball back and Laumape went over with the out-half adding the two points. The Lions dug deep and a brace of Owen Farrell penalties left just a point between the sides with 31 minutes played.
The high level of entertainment continued and as the intensity rose so did the injury tally with Sexton and O’Brien needing attention. Just when it looked as if the Lions would go in at the break just a point behind, New Zealand scored a try with four minutes of the half remaining. Loose marking at a lineout opened up the space for the All Blacks, the ball was swept left and Jordi Barrett marked his first start in the famous jersey when he raced over, his brother Beauden missing the conversion. Half time, New Zealand 12, Lions 6.

New Zealand: J Barrett; I Dagg, A Lienert-Brown, N Laumape, J Savea; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (capt).
Replacements: N Harris, W Crockett, C Faumuina, S Barrett, A Savea, TJ Perenara, A Cruden, M Fekitoa.
Lions: L Williams (Wales), A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), O Farrell, E Daly (both England), J Sexton, C Murray (both Ireland), M Vunipola, J George (both England), T Furlong (Ireland), M Itoje (England), A W Jones, S Warburton (both Wales, capt), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).
Replacements: K Owens (Wales), J McGrath (Ireland), K Sinckler (England), C Lawes (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), R Webb (Wales), B Te’o (England), J Nowell (England).

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