All Blacks



A late Owen Farrell penalty saw the Lions home 24-21 to send the series to a decider in Auckland next week. The match will doubtless also be remembered for Sonny Bill Williams becoming just the third All Black to be sent off in a Test.


The All Blacks were forced to make two changes from last week due to injury. Israel Dagg moved from wing to fullback in place of Ben Smith (concussion, his third for the year), and Anton Lienert-Brown starting at centre after coming on to replace Ryan Crotty (hamstring) in Auckland. Powerful midfielder Ngani Laumape was rewarded for a big Super Rugby season with a call up to the 23, possibly sealed by his barnstorming performance against the Lions on Tuesday night.

The Lions meanwhile made three changes to their starting XV, and a further three to the bench. Tour captain Sam Warburton took the reins and the seven shirt with Johnny Sexton starting at flyhalf, and Maro Itoje at lock. Onto the bench came loose forward CJ Stander, lock Courtney Lawes, and outside back Jack Nowell. Ben Te’o dropped to the bench to accommodate Owen Farrell at 12.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 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 Ngani Laumape.

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, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell.

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


As with last week the Lions had the better of territory and possession early and created the first scoring opportunity but were unable to capitalise. The All Blacks also had some half-chances but they, too, weren’t able to turn those into points until a Barrett penalty in the 20th minute. Farrell replied after 23 minutes.

In the 25th minute Lions wing Anthony Watson took the ball into contact, the contact being between his face and Sonny Bill Williams’ shoulder. TMO Ayoub immediately alerted referee Garces, and after a brief review the inevitable Red card was shown. Fortunately Watson was able to continue after passing a HIA.

Somewhat surprisingly the All Blacks chose to bring on midfield back Ngani Laumape in Williams’ place, taking flanker Jerome Kaino off and playing the rest of the match with just seven forwards and centre Anton Liernert-Brown packing down in several scrums.

Barrett and Farrell traded further penalties in the 32nd, 34th, 37th and 39th minutes to bring the half to a tryless conclusion.

Half time: 9-9.

The All Blacks made the early running after the break, a promising movement brought to an end with a high shot on Lienert-Brown that Barrett converted into three points. Penalties continued to flow the All Blacks way, Barrett missing one in the 50th minute before extending the lead to 15-9 in the 52nd and 18-9 in the 58th.

Lions prop Mako Vunipola was din-binned in the 56th minute for putting his shoulder into a prone Barrett, TMO Ayoub’s attempt to re-engage Garces suggesting he thought a Yellow was insufficient.

With an hour gone the Lions were finally able to exploit their one-man advantage, No. 8 Taulupe Faletau scoring out wide after some good leadup work by the backs. Farrell was unable to convert. Barrett, though, was on target shortly after to restore the lead to two scores.

The first of those scores came in the 69th minute, hooker Jamie George making a clean break and being well backed up by his halfback Conor Murray. Murray then got the ball back from a ruck and surprised the defence by running instead of kicking. Farrell converted to level the scores with 10 minutes remaining.

An 11-phase All Black assault was repelled and the Lions swung back onto attack, seemingly looking to set up either Farrell or Sexton for a match-winning drop goal. In the event they won a penalty instead, All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina guilty of tackling a player in the air. To be fair the player jumped to take a too-high pass but Garces was unswayed and Farrell did the rest.

A desperate last-gasp Barrett attack showed some promise but ended with the ball in touch and the Lions celebrating an epic win.

British and Irish Lions 24 (Taulupe Faletau, Conor Murray tries; Owen Farrell 4 pen, 2 con) New Zealand 21 (Beauden Barrett 7 pen). HT: 9-9.


The third and now deciding Test is at Eden Park on Saturday, kickoff at 17:35 AEST. There is no midweek match.

  • Arty

    Congratulations Garces, stood his ground. “Have another look – Ayoub” and “kick the turf with head down – Peyper” both should be banished to the scrap heap.
    Vunipola’s tackle was just as late as dozens of AB late clear outs. If Barrett hadn’t laid down waiting for crowd support then it may just have been a penalty or nothing at all. Ayoub made a fool of himself again.

    • Adrian

      George was doing his bit for Australia….better late than never George. He was hoping for a suspension until September.

      Seriously though, …warranted, but not the worst by any means

      • Greg

        Is “worst” measured by injury or by intent?

        I actually think this is really bad. You can see him line him up and shoulder his head. There is no sudden, late movement of the head. It is quite stationary. That there was not a serious injury is just blind luck.

        • Adrian

          I don’t disagree with you, it just is I’ve seen worse, including premeditated versions of the same thing, …and of course other offences.

          I expected 6 weeks actually

    • Dally M

      Peyper was an embarrassment the way he tried to steer him away from what was a red card any day of the week.

    • Who?

      Vunipola’s late hit on Barrett was pretty lineball with the late hit by Taylor on Farrell almost immediately beforehand. The only difference, for mine, was that Vunipola (slightly) changed his line to ensure strong contact with Barrett (he was running across Barrett, would’ve collided, but he also dropped his shoulder into Barrett), whereas Taylor was running directly at Farrell to get there. Could’ve lived with either option for both, as long as they were the same option (penalize or not!).
      But the call from Ayoub wasn’t about the charge down. It was about the clean out. Charging the ruck, diving shoulder first onto the head of a prone player. YC was the minimum call, given it was the second offence by one player against the same player.
      And I’m not sure that Garces was ignoring George – in the previous Barrett/Vunipola penalty, George tried to contact Garces but couldn’t (to tell him where the penalty mark was – where the ball landed. Garces actually went past the mark).
      Also interesting to note that the citing commissioner sent SOB in front of a judiciary, stating that SOB had committed a swinging arm to the head of Naholo which breached the Red Card barrier. That was Naholo’s HIA (which he failed, unlike Watson), and it wasn’t a penalty. After being sent to the (all Australian, including David Croft) judiciary, SOB’s been cleared. Seems rather inconsistent…

  • Greg

    Great game I thought. Thanks for the write-up.

    The red card is, for me, an interesting one. Was there a conscious intent to maliciously injure an opponent. I honestly think not. Did he deliberately line up his opponent and drive his shoulder into his head. He certainly did. Brain snap?

    I thought that 4 weeks was perhaps a little underdone. There was intent. There was foul play.

    Whether charged under law 10.4(e,f,k or g) a mid-range offence is mostly 5-6 weeks. What would a Top end offence look like?

    • Generally they keep high-end offences for those that cause injury (or calling the referee a cheat). The actual offence might have looked very similar on the pitch, but if Watson had failed his HIA it would have moved up to a high-end offence. The other thing would have been if you’d answered your first question “yes” and they had too. Something like stamping on someone’s head in a ruck clearly and repeatedly for example, or several punches thrown in a proper, old-school fight.

      • Greg

        Understood…. but I would put the “deliberate line up and drive shoulder into head” in the same category as “several punches thrown”. They didn’t… and I guess that is what counts!

        • I think I probably would too but for whatever reason they tend not to. I think they like to keep it for repeat offences, illegal attacks that cause injury and multiple blows, which I guess I can understand too.

          It’s not just for SBW, shoulder charges (to the head or otherwise) tend not to get top end punishment for some reason.

        • idiot savant

          You’re kidding aren’t you? A stand up fight where punches are thrown allows the opponent to hit you too. Thats fair (I used to enjoy that from time to time). Watson was completely held by another All Black, couldn’t even fend, and was completely defenceless. It was an act of cowardice, plain and simple. Only a coward hits you when you are being held down.

        • joy

          I’m not so sure he targeted the head. If he did he should be banned for life.

        • Greg

          @Joy, watch the replay!

    • SpoonZ

      @Greg you are contradicting yourself. First you disagree his intent then you agree he intended. What are you actually saying?

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Going to be an epic game next week in Auckland. As far as I’m concerned the red was warranted so no issues. I don’t agree with all the ongoing crying about the game, every ruck in every game has stuff that could’ve should’ve been called and you play to the what the referees call.

    Found this earlier

    • Brisneyland Local

      Love that comic! fantastic.

    • Andy

      Spot on. I thought the refereeing was pretty good considering the game.

    • mikado

      I think that’s very fair KRL.

      I thought NZ were magnificent for the middle 40 minutes and were pretty unlucky in the end not to get a famous win. The Lions improved on last week but will need to be a lot better for the final Test.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah they will. Mind you the AB’s will need to be more clinical too

  • idiot savant

    Pray for rain, Cheka. Pray for rain.

    Two tries to nil. Joy to the world……

    That was a great example of how a referee that gets calls wrong consistently…. is consistent!

    In the end, I thought the kiwis missed playmakers (and a playmaking plan) that made the Lions have to make choices. They really missed Smith and SBW. Barrettt just ran rather than directed play and the end result was a lack of creativity all round. This along with the rain and the incredibly good Lions defence helped prevent the last 20 come back.

    Hey Hansen, how many tries and how much ball did you waste thinking you could just run over the top of Farrell?

    Lah de Dah.

    • Adrian

      It was a great game.

      I predicted last week that a 5% improved BIL, could beat NZ if 5% off their game.

      I agree they missed Smith, and thought Aaron Smith and Barrett were a bit rattled. Seems they were rattled by Williams being absent, as much as by anything done to them.

      The Wallabies can learn a bit I think, especially about how to break their defence.

      • idiot savant

        I forgot to mention that O’Brien and Warburton were huge, as were a number of their forwards, in keeping the breakdown a contest with no cheap quick ball for the ABs for the whole game. And the Lions clean out was accurate and muscular. These are the big lessons from this game for us which I fear Cheika will be deaf to.

      • Tomthusiasm

        ABs also missed Kaino after he was subbed off for Williams’ red card.

  • Moose

    So now we know how the ABs can be beaten: assemble an all-star team from four of the tier one nations, including those teams ranked two and three in the world. Make sure that team gets lots of tour matches and time to prepare before the test series. Then make the ABs play a test with 14 men for roughly three quarters of the match. Thus, that all star team can expect to scrape home by three points.
    ABs to win by 30+ next week.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well I must have watched a different match to some of the people commentating. BL’s comments (noting that I disliike each of these teams equally):
    – Despite what a lot people are saying on a lot of sites I actually found the umpiring reasonably good. They were consistently inconsistent. Both sides were offside. The BIL’s admittedly were the worse offenders. But I found the decisions both ways were about equal. Despite the lopsided penalty count which me and the lads (one Fijian, one Aussie, One Tongan (sounds like the start of a joke)) was deserved, especially in the first half.
    – The Red card was warranted, a brain snap of going back to his league days were that crap used to be allowed. It certainly changed the game.
    – All of my friends present thought there should be new rules. All AB’s games should be played with 14 players. And for every 15 points they get ahead, they lose another player. That way every other nation stands a chance.
    – I think the AB’s lost there way in the last 10 mins.
    – The cumlative effect of playing with 14 for 60 mins took its toll.
    – I think the BIL’s got a little lucky to be honest, as they were doing everything to throw the game away for the first 50 mins.

    To be honest, if it takes the very best of four nations, to beat the postage stamp of nation, and 14 players for 60 mins, then it clearly demonstrates that the All Blacks are a phenominal team, not unbeatable. But last night was not normal circumstances.

    Well done BIL’s!

    • Greg

      Quick…. apply for a job at the ARU. Those law changes sound perfect. We need to think outside the square.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Would need to be at the IRU, but that demonstrates even too much commonsense for them too.

    • I’m not sure if the BIL got lucky or the AB are that good. The rule of thumb is that if you’re down a man in the sin bin the opposition score 7 points. Down a man for 55 minutes, they should score 38.5 and the BIL only managed 24. To run a defence that well with 14 players for that long… scary.

      I think Cruden is a quality 10, but the AB lost their shape when he came on and Barrett went to fullback. It was forced by Naholo’s HIA but it seemed to open up gaps a bit more for the BIL to me. Cruden isn’t as fast as Barrett (that’s hardly a fair criticism there are a lot of back three players on the world stage who aren’t and I doubt there’s another 10 in the world who gets close) but he also doesn’t tackle as well, so the backs seemed to get a bit narrower, and boom Faletau scores out wide, plus the back line doesn’t work as well – it certainly had been for big chunks of the second half before that move.

      I agreed with the really big decision Garces made. I didn’t agree with all the others, but the view on the TV is never the same as the view from the middle of pitch and I don’t think there were any howlers. I’ve commented above that I think the final penalty call that won it for the BIL was the correct technical decision while wrong in the spirit of the game – Sinckler had jumped and both feet were off the ground, but the tackle was in no way dangerous given how low the jump was. So while I disagree with it, not a howler. He certainly had a decent match.

      If your proposed change to the All Blacks numbers were put into force, they’d just stay 14 points ahead until the last 10, and then rack up 40 points in the last 10 minutes.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Amazing that one down permanently for 60 mins, a HIA, and a cleaned out bench and they still almost got there. Dry strip next week, and a full team, the BIL’s will get spanked!

    • Miss Rugby

      Add to all that – when was the last time we saw Barrett miss that many? I can’t recall how many it was but I think I saw somewhere that he kicked at 69%. Lots of people saying the red card cost them the game, but missed kicks certainly didn’t help.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep inaccuracy certainly cost them. I thought they were on track to beat them with only 14 players too!

    • Kevino

      I think the game changed was when Smith went off, TJ has never played test rugby under any real pressure and did not perform. Was by far the worst sub of the night (Including Cruden and the stupid kick that I loved)

      TJ just needs to grow up and do his job, don’t know if all the hype that he should be number one has got to him but all he seems to have done in the two tests in cry when he gets on.

  • Moose

    Hoping someone can help explain…
    Late in the game Faumuina was penalised for tackling a Lions player (can’t remember who) where that Lion had jumped to catch a pass. Faumuina tackled the Lion before his feet hit the ground and was penalised for playing a man in the air. Can’t recall seeing this before. You can hear Reid saying to Garces something along the lines of ‘if I jump the next time I’m tacked can I expect a penalty?’
    Is this penalty legit or a bad call? If I remember rightly it was the penalty that gave the Lions the match.

    • Moose
    • Brisneyland Local

      Yep I saw that as well and thought they were hard done by. However was informed that it was, indeed the correct call.
      10.4 (e) A player must not tackle an opponent whose feet are off the ground. Sanction: Penalty kick.

      I thought that it was only applicable to a kick, but it is for any player whose feet were off the ground, including a pass.
      So Geromes answer to Reid should have been “Yes”.

      I am concerned that from now on we will see players jumping into to tackles to milk the penalty. this will be the unintended consequence of this law.
      I understand the intent, to protect the player, but there must be room for interpretation with this law or it will turn into a shamozzle.

      • Moose

        Yes, seems like a ruling that could be cynically abused. Down by two late and in kickable range? Jump into your next tackle.
        Not suggesting that’s what Sinkler’s intent was, but shit, Faumuina would have had to dodge out of the way to avoid contact. He’d hardly even moved off the line.

      • Greg

        The same applied in (I think) the Italy test when two of our players got in a tangle and the opposing player jumped over them. If anyone touched him he would have done a face plant.

        I think that the penalty here should be against the jumping player as he deliberately creates a dangerous situation.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Greg, I agree there must be some interpretation by the referee’s to ensure, players dont do dumb shit!

        • Gegonago

          Intentionally jumping into a tackle is a penalty offence. Jumping to take a pass isnt.

          Its a subtle difference, but there is one

        • mikado

          Yup, important point this as people start getting carried away with the idea of jumping when a tackler comes near.

    • My honest opinion, I think it’s right to the letter of the law and wrong to the spirit of the law. Wayne Barnes would be proud, a lot of other referees would have let it go.

      10.4e says: A player must not tackle an opponent whose feet are off the ground. Sanction: Penalty kick. Sinckler’s feet are clearly off the ground because he jumped to catch the ball, so by the letter the law, it’s a penalty.

      However, the whole of 10.4 is about dangerous play, the various sub-clauses are about different ways it can be dangerous (thumping players, tackling without the ball, tackling above the shoulders etc.). Sinckler got about 20cm off the ground, if that, and it seems fair to ask in what sense was Faumuina’s challenge dangerous? If his challenge wasn’t dangerous in the slightest, should there be a penalty awarded?

      Read’s comment might have been facetious, but players do look for every edge, why wouldn’t you do a little jump into every tackle and win a penalty every time? Actually, if you look at Olympic walking they get called for “running” if they don’t have one foot in contact with the ground at all times – so by definition when you run you have both your feet off the ground some of the time. Why do no referees blow for this penalty?

      • Moose

        Well put, I agree with your opinion. I guess for me, I’d argue that it wasn’t Faumuina that made the situation dangerous. The most culpable guy is Conor Murray for throwing a rubbish pass.

        • Greg

          Well said.

          If we start having penalties for rubbish passes the WBs could be in trouble.

        • Moose

          It could be argued that Murray’s rubbish pass won the match for them…

      • joy

        Correct. Runners spend a good proportion of their stride with neither foot touching the ground. See this slow motion clip of marathon runners.
        The law is an ass.

        • Well the intent is good, if you’ve jumped in the lineout or to catch a high kick and you get taken out in the air and land badly, you can be seriously injured. No one wants that.

          The law is designed to stop that and make sure there’s no misunderstanding of it – can’t take the player in the air, then build up to higher sanctions for doing more reckless things. But the rule as currently formulated ignores some basic biomechanics and has some silly applications, like the tackle on Sinckler and needs to be clarified.

    • Bakkies

      In any case there was no arms wrapped in the ‘tackle’

    • mikado

      Correct to the letter of the law, but desperately unlucky for Faumuina as I can’t really see what else he could have done. Would have been better for Garces to have turned a blind eye to that, I think.

  • joy

    I think that haka caused a few chips of ice to calve of a glacier somewhere and a tsunami three inches high.

    • Ricky Johnson

      Ha. The only difference between this kind of stuff being available in Australia and not is genocide. No biggy.

  • Andy

    Great game and a the right result, at least for the series. Thought the ref actually had a decent game and didn’t target 1 team unfairly. Considering the pressure of this game he really did ok in my opinion.

    SBW was unlucky with the red but it was the right call. I don’t think there was intent as I don’t think that’s in his makeup but it was dumb and dangerous and he dererved the outcome.

    The AB’s will be missing a lot key men next week so the lions have a real chance but I do expect a Kiwi win. I honestly think they looked better with 14 men. Just incredible

  • skip

    I missed the statement from the NZRU clarifying how SB Williams is now ok advertising banks

  • John Tynan

    “At the risk of sounding positive…”. I love it! Keep it up! Too much doom and gloom anyway.

  • idiot savant

    Im with you on Fardy. I couldn’t help thinking during the game that the job O’Brien and Warburton were doing was not dissimilar to the job Pocock and Fardy did against France on the EOYT. A game we won with a B team. Two muscular breakdown hounds working hard over 80 minutes can reduce the attacking platform of the opposition.

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