ALL BLACKS & LIONS DRAW 15-15 IN AUCKLAND - Green and Gold Rugby
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ALL BLACKS & LIONS DRAW 15-15 IN AUCKLAND

ALL BLACKS & LIONS DRAW 15-15 IN AUCKLAND

The most-anticipated test series of recent times has ended in controversy bordering on farce at a jam-packed Eden Park.

Having awarded the All Blacks a match- and series-winning penalty in the 78th minute, and repeating the call after a TMO review, referee Romain Poite bizarrely overturned his own decision, apparently after his assistant Jerome Garces intervened.

TEAM NEWS

The All Blacks made three personnel and a positional change from Wellington. Ngani Laumape started in place of the suspended Sonny Bill Williams with Malakai Fekitoa recalled to the 23. There was also a recall for Julian Savea after Reiko Ioane fell ill. Waisake Naholo wasn’t considered after his recent concussion, Israel Dagg moving from fullback to wing and Jordie Barrett joining Laumape as a run-on debutant.

Kieran Read earned his 100th test cap in his 25th as captain, with Aaron Cruden and Charlie Faumuina each bringing up their 50th from the bench in their final test before heading overseas.

The Lions meanwhile named an unchanged 23, starting the same XV in consecutive Tests for the first time since 1993. Versatile back Jared Payne wasn’t in the selection mix, however, his tour ended by persistent migraines believed unrelated to the head knock he suffered in the Chiefs match on June 20.

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 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 Malakai Fekitoa.

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, 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.

Referee: Romain Poite (France), Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Jaco Peyper (South Africa), TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

THE MATCH

A frenetic opening ten minutes saw the All Blacks doing most of the attacking. Beauden Barrett missed from in front after just two minutes then Julian Savea knocked on with the line open after five minutes. Another All Blacks raid ended with a great steal from Lions lock Maro Itoje, prop Mako Vunipola having stymied another shortly before.

When the Lions finally got some ball they held it for 13 phases and looked to be setting up an overlap on their right, but Jordie Barrett read the play, picking off an intercept and feeding Ngani Laumape who ran 80 metres before being brought down. Shortly afterwards Beauden Barrett kick-passed to his brother on the left touch line who did well to control the ball and bounce-pass it to Laumape who steamed over for the try which was converted for 7-0 after 15 minutes.

Owen Farrell got the Lions on the board with a penalty in the 20th minute, and closed the gap to 7-6 in the 32nd. In the intervening period the All Blacks made numerous handling errors that arguably cost them at least one if not two tries, many due to the swarming Lions defence but others that were just dropped cold.

With half time nearly up the All Blacks won a penalty lineout 40 metres out which was won by Brodie Retallick. In a neat set move centres Anton Lienert-Brown and Laumape combined to put Jordie Barrett over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Half time: All Blacks 12-6 Lions

Play had barely restarted when Lions wing Elliott Daley lined up a monster penalty from easily 50 metres out. It never looked like missing and suddenly the Lions, with only around 35% possession and territory in the first half, found themselves just three down and well in the match.

With 30 minutes remaining Jerome Kaino collected Alun Wyn Jones on the head with a swinging arm and was sin-binned, effectively killing off any momentum the All Blacks had left, the mounting error count (21 handling errors by match end) having already taken much of it away.

The Lions stuck to their guns, Farrell levelling the scores with 20 to go as Kaino returned from the bin. Beauden Barrett made it 15-12 from a scrum penalty, Farrell levelling up again from halfway before the match entered the twilight zone…

Lions fullback Liam Williams failed to control the restart, the ball being next played by another Lions player who was in an offside position. Poite immediately called penalty, then for a TMO review of the Williams fumble for potential foul play. Finding no evidence of foul play he repeated his penalty call. In the time it took him to walk back to where the captain’s were standing, however, he appeared to be persuaded by assistant referee Jerome Garces that the offside was accidental, and awarded a scrum, leaving All Blacks captain Kieran Read flabbergasted and the non-Lions supporters in the stands stunned.

Coming just a week after a highly technical penalty denied the All Blacks a famous, one-man-short draw, it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the fact that the All Blacks shouldn’t have needed a last-gasp penalty – having blown several tries on the night – will have been of little consolation.

A first-ever drawn series, then, making this the second-most successful Lions tour of New Zealand behind the victorious 1971 team (who also drew the final test, at Eden Park, but in far less controversial circumstances).

Highlights:

 

For New Zealand: Tries: Laumape, J Barrett. Con: B Barrett. Pen: B Barrett Yellow Card: Kaino

For British & Irish Lions: Pens: Farrell 4, Daly

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well GAGR’s over all I thought the first half was probably some of the fastest, hardest, exciting rugby I have watched in years. It was brutal and enjoyable. That is why I love this game so much.

    Despite the ending with a referees decision, that I have to state up front I disagree with Huw Cavall’s piece just quitely, it was still a great game. Even if the ball had been knocked out or kicked out or something to end the game as a legitamate draw that would have been better than what we got. Too many times contraversy ruins a spectacle.

    That being said, the AB’s had plenty of chances to win it, and as all GAGR’s will know I always say take the decision about who wins a game out of the referee’s hand and win it on the scaore board!

    But a great game! Wallabies take note, that is how you play hard, fast, up tempo, rugby! Bring it on!

    • Mica

      Yep we’re stuffed in this years Bled. :p

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep they used the BIL’s to warm up against, now they are coming to play the bunnies! In fact we are not bunnies we are ferret’s. We go in after the bunnines!

        • Pearcewreck

          Wish we could be Honey Badgers.

          15 Honey Badgers would beat any one.

        • Brisneyland Local

          PW, I wish we had that many Honey Badgers! I am so not looking forward to the Bledisloe. I just found out I have access to some freebie tickets to Suncorp on the 21 st of Oct! I really dont know if I can bring myself to go to it. After watching the Italy game, as most of the GAGR readers will attest to, I was ropeable. I will see how badly the first few matches go and then make my decision. But I cant belive in my life that I would ever be at the stage where I turned down free Wallabies tickets!

        • Hoss

          Be thankful BBL – Second prize might be four tickets to the Wallabies………

        • Brisneyland Local

          No you are just scaring me Hoss!

    • Kev

      To be honest, take away the fact that it was the All Blacks and the Lions playing, and it was not a good game at all. Handling errors galore by NZ and wasted opportunities (must be taking inspiration from the Wobs). Missed penalty kicks from right out in front. Crap kicking by the Lions (2 kicks out on the full, missed penalty touch finders). Rubbish passes by the Lions leading to intercepts. Now imagine if this was a Wallabies game – there would be absolute outrage and another angry social media rant garnering thousands of ‘likes’….

      • Brisneyland Local

        Kev,

        You are probably right, but in comparison to the dross I have been watching (Aus Super rugby, Wallabies) it appeared really good. And whilst some of the errors were unforced, there were quite a few that happened do to pressure by both teams! That being said, I dont know if it was the beautiful Barrossa Shiraz that I was drinking, but I really enjoyed the game!

        • Kev

          I must admit I did enjoy seeing the All Blacks pressured.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yeah it was good. If BB could have kicked better than 50% they would have run away with it!

      • I sort of agree with both of you. Some of the kicking was poor, but face it, we were all shocked more by Barrett’s 100% record in the first test than by his missed kicks in the second and third. For all his greatness ball in hand, his is not a test quality penalty kicker it is the one skill he can’t execute reliably.

        Both Sexton’s and Farrell’s kicking out of hand is usually better than that and was pretty surprising. Particularly the missed touch from penalties.

        Some of the handling errors from NZ I think can be attributed to the pressure defence. We’re not used to seeing NZ make those mistakes but we’re not used to seeing a side able to keep the pressure up on them for that long, however they achieved it. Some of the chances they left on the field, like the Savea try were stone cold though and while Hansen won’t admit it, I bet he wishes he’d stuck with Ioane, at least for that play (I think Savea looked like a man who had been told “you need to be busier and go and look for the ball more” and played much more in the middle, being a bigger, strong ball-carrier than Ioane who is more of a speed merchant, said something about the change in tactics and Ioane wasn’t the player to do that).

        So yes, there were errors, but many of them were forced errors, attributable to good play from the other side, at least in part. Some of them were not, for sure, but many were. And the rest of the play was still very good. I’ll be happy if any of the Rugby Championship matches or the Super Rugby play-offs produce rugby that is as compelling as this to watch.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah, we’ve been lucky for a while in that we haven’t needed to win games with kicks and so Barrett’s flaws in that area have not been addressed. Henry mentioned this in a recent article, and I agree, we have been exposed and this is a good wakeup call for RWC in 19.
          The NH teams are improving (although I reckon we’d still hammer England today) and we have been exposed to different tactics than what we have seen over the last couple of years. The Lions defence was awesome and a combination of good tactics and some really dedicated and strong defenders. I’m pretty comfortable that we have the ability to review and manage the changes needed to get us through to the future ok, but it has opened up a new ball game for us and that is always good.

        • I suspect really no one will have the talent to mount that kind of defence in future for that long. It was a pretty mixed defensive line with the fittest and best of three national sides pretty much. None of England, Wales or Ireland can mount that quality of players across the park and New Zealand will exploit the weaknesses.

          But I think, as well, we might start to see Ben Smith move aside for Jordy Barrett (or he’ll move to the wing and Dagg might be eased out again, poor guy – although given the state of Smith’s head I wouldn’t think Dagg’s days in black were done if that happens). You’d have to say Jordy passed his audition with flying colours on Saturday and if Beauden’s kicking doesn’t improve Jordy will take over the kicking duties, as he does at the ‘Canes.

          I think Hansen has some real headaches – 1-10 are pretty much settled (Cane or Savea can be debated still), and barring major injuries I think their 2nd and in many cases 3rd in line are sorted too. Outside that who does he pick in the midfield: Crotty, SBW (after that red card do you?), ALB, Laumape all took their chances and didn’t put a foot wrong really. Even Fekitoa looked good in his 20 minutes or so. For the back three: Ioane had a good game and a quiet one when they were down to 14 in the rain which is understandable, Dagg did nothing wrong except get run over by their Number 8 at close range, Naholo did nothing wrong except get knocked out, Smith as always didn’t nothing wrong except get knocked out, Jordy Barrett made a forward pass under pressure but really did nothing else wrong. Several of them did a lot right too. Savea dropped a ball for a sitter of a try but actually did a lot good too and if you have Dagg or Smith on the other wing offers something very different.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah good to have those problems. I think we’ll see Ben Smith for a while yet. Naholo needs to sort his defense out first. I dont really mind who they pick though as all have strengths and weaknesses. Its about balance and tactics on the day

        • My only concern for Ben Smith is that he keeps getting knocked out. There’s increasing medical evidence that if you keep getting concussed the impact in your later life is, to be very technical about it, really nasty.

          Ioane and Smith on the wings (so they keep the two full-backs) and J. Barrett at full back looks kind of tempting. I forgot about Milner-Skudder in there too.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah but I think we manage concussion better now. I’m sure if it was leading to an issue he’d stop. The good thing is test and recovery does make it better.
          I’d have Smith at the back. Not sure on Skudder’s recovery yet but I do like his play

        • Brent Craig

          It’s an inner ear issue not concussion & it’s now being treated. He’ll be good to go as early as this week & should be 100% by Bledisloe 1.

        • Yes, I heard that bit of news after I wrote this (I’ve been messed around with a migraine so my news came in kind of out of order). The sheer number of times he gets concussed is still a concern, but less so now I guess, thankfully.

        • Brent Craig

          They’re saying all of his “concussions” have actually been due to the inner ear issue hence his rapid recovery times. Fingers crossed they’re right & check for both if he comes off again?

        • Oh, I’d thought that it was just the last one but if it’s all of them that’s even better news. It does make sense though, you see someone get hit in the head and report dizziness and you think “concussion” and his inner ear problem eventually sorts itself out without treatment…

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Nah!

    • adastra32

      Nearly all good there…however, seems to me the WBs have a bit more to work on than just a “hard, fast, up tempo” game. That appears to have been the unsuccessful ambition for some time, translated by them as “run it from anywhere/time” and “kicking/defence an (unselected) option”. If it continues into the RC, they will be dog meat for the ABs….again.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep, the AB’s ability to do that is based on a very high skill level, one we just dont have. They also are fitter, faster and more mobile. Their forwards roll for break down to break down like backs.

  • HK Red

    Can we stop talking about Poite reversing his decision to award a “match and series winning penalty”!
    It was not a penalty try, the points are not automatic and Barrett is not an automaton (though he is pretty bloody good).
    Barrett was kicking at 50% in that test, by no means was it certain that an awarded penalty would have been converted.

    • Brent Craig

      If the penalty is given & Barrett kicks it I think we’re still having the same penalty/ no penalty conversation. If it’s given & he misses then there’s still the conversation, but probably only the tragics over on the Refereeing Decisions thread are involved.

      • HK Red

        My point is not whether it was or it wasn’t a penalty, that is a different discussion. My point is about the reporting of the incident as a “match winning penalty being reversed”, as if it was a given that Barrett was going to kick it. Barrett kicked 50% in this test, 70% in the 2nd test. It was only ever a “potential match winning penalty”.

        • Pearcewreck

          Spot on HK.

  • Hoss

    Ahhh, the beginning of 12 years of ‘if only, could have, should have’ and more meaningless inane dribble sighting rule books.

    One of those glorious decisions that if you believe its a penalty you are right, if you believe it wasn’t – you are also right and the angst of your particular position wont budge the history books one millimetre, the ink is dry, just ask the Scots……….as my first cricket coach said to me ‘you cant draw pictures in the score book’

    Long live Rugby and God Bless The AB’s and The Lions for injecting passion back into our lives.

    The AB’s are human after all (not that we will beat them for a while) and The Lions Tours are here to stay.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Thanks Hoss. A voice of reason is always appreciated

  • idiot savant

    I saw two disturbing things on the weekend. First, I saw the mighty All Blacks up tempo game plan brought back to the field by well organised and committed defence and a back row that contested and turned over at critical times.

    Second I saw the Tahs ripped to shreds by an up tempo game plan with forwards picking and going and offloading. I saw a completely disorganised defence simply not make any adjustments to what was an obvious game plan. The Tahs back row stayed wide and watched the Jaguars rip them to shreds up the middle. And this was a side that has the Wallaby defence coach and three of the Australian back row who didn’t contest or turnover.

    Gatland and the Lions showed us one way to play the ABs. Im not sure what the Tahs were showing us. And surely someone in the ARL is asking Gatland what he’s doing in 2020.

    • I think you missed out one critical piece there, the up tempo game plan was brought down to a pace that the Lions could handle whenever they could by critical players taking a knee, by forwards being late into their own lineouts and the like, to the point Poite was telling them to hurry up and so on. Now, OK, every side does that occasionally but it seemed like the Lions started from about half way through the first half and kept on doing it.

      And if Savea had caught that pass, if Poite hadn’t been so sharp on the whistle at the end and Lienert-Brown had scored on the advantage, I’m less sure about Barrett hanging on because it looked to me like Faletau had him lined up but we’ve all seen him side-step too… well two or three extra tries at least one of which was an absolute sitter, with who knows what effect on the morale of the teams and subsequent play. Would you still be saying the Lions defence had brought the All Blacks back to the ground?

      As for what the Tahs were showing – they’re showing that Los Jaguares are being shafted by their travel schedule more than anything else and that they can play, combined with a chunk of this year’s crop of Tahs have given up.

      • idiot savant

        Thats a lot of ifs and buts Eloise. I would still be saying the Lions defence was magnificent even if some of those opportunities were taken and the ABs had won. I think across all 3 tests, the Lions showed that a well organised defence can stop the ABs from running away with matches, and even provide the chance to steal a win.

        The Saffers proved this as well in their match against the ABs in the RWC. Their line speed and muscular defence in that game kept it tight until the dying stages. And the sheer delight on the ABs faces at the end of that match was a giveaway that it had been a much nearer run thing.

        In terms of the Lions tactics of disrupting, slowing down etc well thats just giving the ABs some of their own medicine. The ABs are the masters of disruption and there was plenty of loitering by them in that 3rd game. I loved the duelling strategies of the two sides.

        The ABs did make a lot of mistakes but I think we have to consider that they were deliberately trying to play the game at breakneck speed as a strategy to fatigue the big Lions. The ABs set their own strategy and it was up to them to execute it. At the end of the day they didn’t execute it well enough to win.

        • It’s not really that many ifs and buts – the pass to Savea he dropped for that try in the first few minutes was a gimme. I couldn’t be in the position to TAKE the pass, but I could have caught if ffs.

          Equally it’s not unreasonable to hope the referee might think “the side I’m about to give a penalty to has the ball and a player running towards the try line, I’ll play advantage.”

          As a lot of the stat-boys are saying the All Blacks were ahead for about twice as long as they were level, and behind on the scoreboard for 3 minutes. They scored 12 more points over the series and so on.

          I’m not trying to say the Lions defence didn’t play a massive part in the series and it did keep the All Blacks under some measure of control I just don’t think the Lions defence was quite as dominant as you do.

          Fundamentally the RWC finals are pretty unique in international rugby. The final round of the The Rugby Championship and the 6N come close perhaps. But you have squads who have been together for a long time, in the case of the SH nations with the abbreviated RC before hand something like 4 months, training together, working together and planning for their opposition. Honestly no one could be 100% sure where Australia/Wales/England would end up at the end of their pool stages but I think the rest of the pools were pretty predictable (despite Japan beating SA) and once we knew the lineup the winners of the quarter finals were fairly predictable (although the Australia v Scotland was far closer than probably even the most ardent Scottish fan predicted). That should work both ways but I think it helps everyone else get closer to the All Blacks. Part of their winning record is that they’re just better prepared and fitter than everyone else but if you’ve had your whole squad in camp for that long, all of the quarter-finalist, semi-finalist and finalist are pretty much at their peak, except for injuries (like Wales for example). Some squads have quite a chunk of improvement to go, but the All Blacks just don’t, most of their squad plays pretty close to their peak in every game.

          I disagree with your final statement too. The All Blacks set their own strategy and the strategy was good enough to win. The skill of individual players who are better than that in general, let them down. Yes I’m pointing my finger at Julian Savea. Although I thought he generally had an excellent game, and he was under a lot of defensive pressure, Jordy Barrett’s forward pass. Two bits of AB designed play where if individual skill, one forgivable, one not, had held up, the result would have been different and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

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