Series drawn as Lions battle to earn 15-15 draw with All Blacks

Warren Gatland’s Lions battle to earn 15-15 draw with All Blacks and draw test series.

England’s Owen Farrell kicked a huge penalty with two minutes remaining to draw an epic encounter and secure a hard fought drawn series against world champions New Zealand at Eden Park.

Both sides battled and ran themselves into the ground as they frantically went in search of a crucial last chance to win the series.

The hosts thought they had that chance as Beauden Barrett lined up a kick at goal following an offside offence by Jack McGrath.

Warburton managed to convince referee Romain Poite to consult the television replays. The French referee adjudged the an accidental offside and instead awarded a scrum to New Zealand.

The All Blacks were guilty of blowing a number of chances that could and should have settled the affair but somehow the clinical finishing they showed in the first test had deserted them.

First-half tries from Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett gave them momentum, while Beauden Barrett kicked a penalty and conversion. Owen Farrell’s four penalties and an Elliot Daly’s long range effort accounted for the Lions total.

With conditions much improved from last weekend, Sam Warburton was penalised rather harshly from the first ruck presenting Barrett with a relatively easy opportunity which he pulled badly left of the posts.

It was a let off and a warning of how Poite intended to police the  breakdown.

The All Blacks onslaught continued and they established early territorial advantage and were playing much of their rugby in the Lions half.

On one of the rare occasions the Lions went deep inside he hosts’ 22, Owen Farrell’s pass was intercepted and looked like a certain 7 points but brilliant defensive work from Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams snuffed out the danger.

The home side were more precise and clinical with their next chance. With 15 minutes gone, Barrett’s cross-kick found his brother Jordie, who leaped and batted the ball backwards to Laumape who finished well. Barrett’s conversion made it 7-0.

While Barrett was slowing working his way into the game, his opposite number endured an error-strewn first quarter before landing a penalty to cut the deficit to 4 points.

New Zealand bounced back and should have crossed again after shunting the Lions off their own scrum only for Beauden Barrett to knock on with the line at his mercy.

A 32nd minute Farrell penalty narrowed the gap to just a point but worryingly fly-half Johnny Sexton went down clutching his left ankle and was only able to continue following lengthy treatment.

It looked like the Lions would go in 7-6 down at the interval but there was still time for the All Blacks to strike again as Laumape’s brilliant off-load to Anton Lienert-Brown got behind the Lions defensive line with Jordie Barrett finished superbly on an arcing run.

The half would end 12-6 to the hosts as Beauden Barrett missed the conversion. Despite struggling for large periods of the half, the Lions would have been reasonably happy with the 6 point deficit.

The fact that New Zealand have only lost one of the last 58 tests at Eden Park when leading at the half should tell you all you need to know about the resilience and character shown by the Lions in the second half.

Munster’s CJ Stander replaced the injured Sean O’Brien at the break. The Leinster man was on the end of a bone crunching clear out in the first half and went down clutching his left shoulder.

The Lions started the half well when Elliot Daly stepped up to land a massive 52 metre penalty. It was a mammoth kick from the Englishman that cleared the crossbar with a bit to spare.

Minutes later, the Lions had another escape as a forward pass from Jordie Barrett to Savea was called back when it looked like a certain try. The Lions were skating on very thin ice as it looked like one more All Blacks score would seal the test and the series.

Kaine then received ten minutes in the bin for a swinging forearm to the head of Alun Wyn Jones after Romain Poite consulted the video officials.

Farrell’s third penalty levelled on the hour mark. With the game ticking into the final quarter, the series was on a knife edge. Both management teams emptied the bench as the desperately tried to gain an edge.

Kyle Sinckler was penalised for collapsing a scrum with Beauden Barrett knocking over the kick to go 15-12 ahead. But the Lions battled back as Rhys Webb did well to earn a penalty for Farrell to level the game and draw the series.

 

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