Warren Gatland was depicted as a clown in a New Zealand newspaper
Owen Farrell’s long-range penalty two minutes from the time earned them a share of the spoils in New Zealand for only the second time in their history but only after a controversial change of mind from referee Romain Poite.
Replacement hooker Ken Owens was penalised for offside just outside the Lions 22 at the restart as a loose ball ricocheted his way but the French official then downgraded his decision to accidental offside after consulting with his assistants and the Television Match Official. It meant a scrum rather than a penalty.
“It’s a tough game to ref. We all know what happened and we all know probably what should have happened but as little kids we’re taught to take the good with the bad and that’s what we’re going to do,” said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.
“His initial instinct was that it was a penalty. Then he spoke to his team of three and one of them suggested it was accidental.
“It’s either offside or it isn’t offside. There are too many avenues they can run down. The people running the game need to ask whether they need to make the rule book simpler. My answer would be yes.”
Lions Tour: Player ratings against New Zealand – third Test Sat, July 8, 2017
Express Sport brings you the British & Irish Lions in the third Test against New Zealand
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Liam Williams – 5
It would have been harsh to either side to lose that series
Lions captain Sam Warburton
Lions captain Sam Warburton was influential in talking Poite round to take a second look.
"I just asked him to check for the accidental offside,” said Warburton. “It’s a shot to nothing because he had awarded the penalty but all game he was quite receptive at looking at things.
“Obviously if you question something ten to 15 times a game they won’t be receptive – I think less is more – but it was not a penalty offence in my opinion so I was glad they had a look.
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“We would have been devastated. It would have been harsh to either side to lose that series.”
Despite the anti-climax, there was a sense of romanticism about the result
New Zealand scored two tries to two penalties from Farrell in a breathless first half with the two backs making their first Test starts, Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett, on the scoresheet to take a 12-6 half time lead.
But after sending on CJ Stander at half time for Sean O’Brien, who suffered shoulder damage, the gutsy Lions pulled to within three points when Elliot Daly landed a huge penalty from inside his own half and then drew level on the hour with the All Blacks a man down after the sin-binning of Jerome Kaino for a swinging arm tackle which dazed Alun Wyn Jones.
The Wales second row, who went off as a result of the incident, reappeared as a temporary substitute for Warburton late on after somehow passing an HIA test.
Beauden Barrett edged New Zealand 15-12 in front in the 67th minute when Lions replacement prop Kyle Sinckler was adjudged to have dropped the scrum but the All Blacks stand-off’s two first half misses came back to haunt him when the deadly Farrell hammered over another 45m kick with the series on the line.
“You know what the kick means but I don’t think anything changes for you as a kicker,” said Farrell.
“I had been hitting them okay so I was happy. It was a long kick, but I was just trying to strike it well.
“It feels a bit weird really. I suppose it is a brilliant achievement. At the same time it is never nice to be on the end of a draw.”
The outcome left a sense of anti-climax in the stadium but at the conclusion of a compelling series there was something fitting about Warburton and Kieran Read, who won his 100th cap yesterday, lifting the trophy together.