New Zealand 21 - 24 Lions: match report
The 2017 British and Irish Lions tour will come down to the third and final match, after Owen Farrell's late penalty secured a nail-biting victory for the visitors in Wellington.
In a match pockmarked by the Lions' indiscipline, it was New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams who received a red card in the first half for a dangerous shoulder charge on Anthony Watson. It looked like the tourists would fail to make the one-man advantage count, yet tries from Faletau and Murray set the stage for Farrell to score the crucial three points with two minutes to go.
The atmosphere was expectant in Wellington, where the rain teemed down. The vociferous Lions support backed their team with gusto in a stadium where New Zealand have not lost since 2003.
The match was tied at 3-3 in the 25th minute, when Sonny Bill Williams made himself the flawed protagonist. Anthony Watson, the Lions' 23-year-old winger, claimed a high ball before Williams clattered in to him, the ex-boxer's shoulder clashing with Watson's face. The referee consulted with the video officials, and pulled out his red card. Williams is the first All Black to be sent off since 1967, and he could have no complaints.
New Zealand seemed to adapt better to going down to 14 men. The Lions back-row exerted pressure, but created little by way of breaks. In the second half, the visitors, who have not beaten New Zealand on tour since 1971, began to move the ball through their hands. Toby Faletau finished off a sweeping move in the corner after 60 minutes. Eight minutes later, Connor Murray burst over the line after Jamie George had broken New Zealand's defence.
Mako Vunipola entered the sin-bin in the second half for a reckless clear-out of Barrett in the ruck, yet it was the differing fortunes of the two goal-kickers that proved decisive. Beauden Barrett converted seven penalties, but it should have been more. By contrast, ice-cold is the blood that courses through Owen Farrell's veins. The Saracens man, who played at inside-centre, kicked with unerring accuracy. As he stared up at the posts with two minutes to play, there was little doubt that he would level the tour at one victory apiece.
New Zealand 21 - 24 Lions: as it happened
80' FT! Connor Murray boots it out of play and the Lions have ground out a win in Wellington.
79' The All Blacks are making yards around the half-way line. Barrett's cross kick flies out of play. The Lions need to retain their concentration, and get the basics right.
77' Farrell sinks it! With two minutes to go, the Lions edge ahead.
76' Lions penalty. 30 metres, straight down the middle. Sinckler was tackled in the air.
75' Lions scrum on half way. Five minutes to go.
75' Stat time... the last time New Zealand failed to score a try was back in 2014, against Australia in Sydney.
74' Phwoarr! Big hit from Courtney Lawes on Taylor. The All Blacks still have the ball in the middle of the pitch.
73' S. Barrett replaces Whitelock in the second-row.
71' It's perfectly poised as we enter the last ten minutes. If the Lions maintain their discipline, they could make their man advantage count. Vunipola is now back on the pitch after his sin bin, of course.
70' Farrell converts! We're all square!
68' TRY! Connor Murray for the Lions! The scrum half nips over the line after Jamie George made good yards. Suspect defending from the All Blacks. Farrell with a conversion from just outside the 22, five metres in.
66' Cruden threads a grubber through to the flank, but a diving Ioane doesn't arrive in time. We go back for a New Zealand penalty, which Barrett converts from 15 metres.
65' Subs all round. Kaino replaces Cane for the All Blacks. McGrath is on for O'Brien for the Lions.
64' Poor error from Daly. He claimed the ball in his own 22, and launched a long kick forward. Too far forward though, as the ball bobbles off the end of the pitch. The All Blacks will restart with an attacking scrum on the 22.
63' The match has opened up following the try, far more free-flowing. 'Liioooons, Liiioooons', rings out from the crowd. They believe.
60' TRY FOR THE LIONS! Toby Faletau finishes off a fine move, diving right in to the corner. That was the first time that the visitors have 'gone through the gears' in the back line this half. Tough conversion for Farrell, it's kissing the touchline, and he slices it wide.
59' The Lions have conceded five penalties in this half alone. If Barrett had brought his shooting boots, the hosts would be out of sight.
59' Courtney Lawes replaces Wyn-Jones for the Lions.
59' It flies through the post. The All Blacks capitalise on the Lions' carelessness to stretch the lead.
58' Further indiscipline (Warburton offside from a line-out), presents Barrett with another penalty. Only 62% accuracy so far tonight from the NZ 10.
56' Vunipola is back in the TMO's attention for flopping over the top of a ruck. His discipline is shambolic. Sin-bin for Vunipola. The teams will be even at 14 apiece for the next ten minutes.
54' Meanwhile, changes for the hosts as Charlie Faumuina and Wyatt Crockett replace Owen Franks and Joe Moody.
54' Barrett has another chance to stretch New Zealand's lead, and this time he does, squeezing the ball just inside the post.
53' Vunipola could be in a pickle, here. Very late charge on Barrett, after the New Zealand fly-half had kicked clear. After consultation with the TMO, the French referee gives a penalty, and a 'be careful' warning to the Saracens loose-head.
53' Barrett misses to keep the margin at three points.
52' Dagg claims Farrell's high kick, and gives it to Lienert-Brown, who skips through a challenge and mounts an attack. New Zealand surge forward and Barrett tries another grubber. Kieran Read lacks the legs to get there ahead of Daly, and the referee pulls it back for a penalty. Barrett will kick from 10-metre line again, a touch to the left.
48' Better from Barrett. He strokes the ball over as the All Blacks regain a deserved lead.
46' The home side have made the stronger start to this second half. Waisalo Naholo crashes over the gain line, coming from deep to collect the ball from a scrum. Steve Hansen's side have another penalty now, on the half way line. Connor Murray was offside, and Barrett will kick from the 10 metre line. It's pretty straight.
43' Barrett sends his penalty wide, as Sam Whitelock fiddles around with his contact lenses in the background. It looked like Barrett's goal-kicking had improved of late, but that was a really loose effort.
42' Barrett skids a neat grubber through the Lions back-line, and it bobbles out on the 22. The tourists win the ball and clear their lines in to touch. The All Blacks win the line-out of their own, and win a penalty about 30 yards out. Itoje was offside. Barrett, once again, to kick.
41' The All Blacks get us underway for the second half.
40'+3' Farrell sinks it, and we go in to the half time break at 9-9.
40'+1' Sexton hangs a cross-kick in the air, in the knowledge that the referee was playing an advantage. Faletau is under it, but can't bring it under his control, so we go back. Farrell will kick from the 22 line, to the left of the posts.
39' Lions penalty after New Zealand spin the scrum. The tourists kick to the corner, and look to mount an attack as the '40 minute' hooter blows to indicate that this will be the last phase of play.
38' Cracking claim from Anthony Watson, under pressure. The two teams exchange a couple of kicks, and New Zealand win a scrum as the Lions' maul collapses.
37' The touch-judges raise their flags. The All Blacks nudge back ahead.
36' Vunipola concedes a penalty just outside the 22. Barrett has a chance to increase his tally.
34' No mistake from Farrell. He draws the Lions back level in what, so far, has been an attritional battle befitting of the conditions.
33' Straight away, the Lions win a penalty of their own on the New Zealand 22. Whitelock didn't roll away. It's right in the middle, and should be meat and drink for Farrell.
31' New Zealand penalty after Davies strayed offside. Barrett will kick for goal. Not straightforward, but he should notch another three points. And he does! The home side have reacted to the red card better, and they edge back in to the lead.
29' Good combination between the two flankers, O'Brien and Warburton, but the ball scrambles loose and Sexton kicks long. It's overcooked, and poorly directed. It bobbles out behind the try-line, and New Zealand have a scrum on the half way line. The first one collapses, so they'll try again.
28' Also a change for the All Blacks, with Laumape replacing Ioane for his debut.
26' Watson was injured by Williams' foul Nowell, of Exeter Chiefs, replaces him.
26' Red card for Williams! The French referee deems Williams' action to have been deliberate, and off he goes. That changes the complexion of the match.
25' Sonny Bill Williams launches his hefty frame, with force, in to Anthony Watson. He didn't use his arms though, and is penalised as a result. The referee consults with his colleagues upstairs... George Ayoub is the TMO. They're discussing a red card...
23' Farrell sends it through to level the Lions! A fine kick. It went over with legs to spare.
21' Graham Rowntree, the forwards coach, prowls the touchline as the Lions win a penalty on half way. Warburton indicates that they'll go for three points. Farrell places the ball, and glances up, his face a picture of concentration.
20' No mistake from Dan Carter's protegee this time. It flies through the drizzle, and through the posts. First blood to the hosts.
19' Down goes the scrum, and it's another penalty to New Zealand. Barrett will have the chance to kick from the 22 line, a little to the left of the posts.
17' Penalty to New Zealand for some Lions naughtiness in the ruck. Barret kicks deep in to the 22, and the All Blacks form a maul from the subsequent line-out. The forwards in red manage to stop the flow and force a turnover. Fine work.
15' The All Blacks retain possession from the Lions' 22 drop-out. But hang on, Warburton nabs possession. Oh, back it goes to New Zealand. This is real hot-potato stuff. The Welshman committed the knock-on, so it's a New Zealand scrum straddling the half-way line.
13' Off the post! Barret's effort swirled in the wind, and was inches wide.
11' Penalty to New Zealand. Alun Wyn-Jones has his hands in the ruck. Barret to kick from about 40 metres, right in the middle of the posts.
10' Barret shows his silky feet for the first time, lofting a cross-kick towards Naholo. Daly fumbles, allowing the All Blacks winger to steal a march. Daly recovers, but a knock on gives New Zealand a scrum on the half way line.
9' A superb offload from Jonathan Davies almost sets Elliot Daly free on the wing. He is just about halted by Nahalo, but the Lions recycle possession and work the ball to the other side. Williams chops inside on the right, but the pass to him was just forward. It's been all Lions so far, in terms of possession and territory. But they need points.
7' New Zealand win the scrum inside their own 22, but Barret fails to find touch. Daly claims, pumps the ball in to the air, and forces Israel Dagg in to a knock on. It's clear that both sides are targetting the high ball, given the soggy weather. The Lions win the scrum and Daly crashes over the gain line. The visitors are yet to really bring the backs in to play.
5' England win the line-out, and the forwards were making good gains from the breakdown, until Maro Itoje falls foul of the weather and knocks the ball on. The Lions have started with plenty of intent.
3' First scrum of the match, after Codie Taylor's line-out was deemed not straight. The Lions have a slight advantage in terms of weight, win the scrum, and then a penalty after the tackler fails to roll away. Sexton kicks in to touch on the 22 line.
2' From the line-out, New Zealand kick high, and deep, testing the England back line under the high ball. Elliot Daly claims, calls his mark, and boots it back upfield.
1' Jonny Sexton kicks deep to get us underway. There's a real sense of occasion here. The match settles in to an early exchange of kicks. New Zealand have a line-out just inside their own half.
Owen Farrell looks on with a very disinterested expression as the All Blacks perform the haka.
A Mr McKay is singing the New Zealand anthem. No sign of Ronnie Barker, though.
The rain is pouring down and mixing with the haze from smoke cannons. It makes for quite an evocative image. Here come the anthems.
There's a man stood in the tunnel holding a big cuddly toy lion. It looks rather incongruous. Anyway, he hands it to Sam Warburton and he leads the team out on to the pitch. Last minute huddle and team-talk in the All Blacks' dressing room.
Waisake Naholo v Elliot Daly will be an interesting contest on the wing. Both are fine attackers, but less assured in defence.
It's tipping it down with rain in Wellington. The kicking game of Sexton and Farrell could become an increasing advantage in slippery conditions.
Concerning news has emerged that former-Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan collapsed earlier in New Zealand, and has been taken to hospital in Wellington. It's said to be precautionary. Get well soon, Geech!
Jérôme Garcès will referee the match today. The Frenchman was also in charge of the Lions' biggest victory of the tour so far: a 34-6 win against the Chiefs.
Rather ominously, New Zealand haven't lost in Wellington for 17 years. The last team to beat them was the England side that went on to win the 2003 World Cup six months later.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read is on 98 caps for his country. He'll edge within touching distance of the tonne today.
Over on The Guardian, Nick Evans sees the Farrell-Sexton pairing as a brave move from Warren Gatland, but not a desperate one.
Maro Itoje comes in at second row for Courtney Lawes, in a switch that sees Alun Wyn-Jones keep his place in the scrum despite a tough time in the first test. Wyn-Jones' performance raises the question, once again, of why Wasps and England lock Joe Launchbury didn't make the squad.
In terms of the Lions team, the key discussion point comes in the backs, where Jonny Sexton will line up at fly-half, with Owen Farrell at inside centre. That's an unfamiliar 10-12 partnership. The pair have only played 74 minutes together in the entire tour. Their ability to click will be crucial to the Lions' chances.
Good morning and welcome to the build-up to and live coverage of this crunch match for the Lions.
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