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New Zealand 15 British & Irish Lions 15

Sam Warburton & Kieran Read

The British & Irish Lions earned a creditable 15-15 draw with New Zealand in Auckland in a fantastic contest at Eden Park on Saturday night.  The draw means the Series is also drawn with both sides winning one test each.

The draw also means that this is the first time the All Blacks have not won a test match in Auckland in 23 years with the last match drawn against South Africa in 1994.

The All Blacks will be the more disappointed of the two teams, after they missed several chances to win the game, not least the opportunity for the returning Julian Savea knocking the ball on with the try line begging in the opening exchanges.

That said, the Blacks did score two sumptuous tries from Ngani Laumape and impressive debutant Jordie Barrett.

The Lions kept the scoreboard in touch with a series of Penalties from Owen Farrell and a booing 53 metre kick from winger Elliott Daly.

As the match entered the final stages, the atmosphere in the ground was highly charged with neither side wanting to commit the offence that would cause a free shot at goal to win the match and whole series.

It was against this backdrop that the Lions nearly shot themselves in the foot following an All Black restart that popped up into replacement hooker Ken Owens who was in an offside position.  Referee Romain Poite initially signalled a penalty for offside to New Zealand which would have ultimately decided the match and series in New Zealand’s favour.  But after consultation with his assistant where it was pointed out that New Zealand captain could have infringed by leaping into full back Liam Williams without attempting to play the ball, he then reduced the offence to an accidental offside giving New Zealand a scrum advantage.  His words to the team captains of “I have done a deal” were perhaps unfortunate, but in the end the decision did not favour either team and they were left to go out and win the match rather than the whole series being decided on a referring decision.  The best outcome from what was a difficult situation for the official.

With just minutes remaining on the clock, the All Blacks threw everything at the Lions, but the red defence held firm and the series was drawn.

Head Coach Warren Gatland said “Given the schedule, given how tough the tour was, to come to New Zealand and get a draw you’ve got to be proud of that.

“I thought it was a penalty to us, Kieran Read jumped in and he’s hit the player in the air. In fairness he (Warburton) has been able to talk the man in the middle into giving an accidental offside.”

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