The Lions secured one of the greatest wins in their illustrious rugby history, thanks to some immense character, a huge heart and Owen Farrell’s boot. A monumental fixture that will now see a crucial decider at Eden Park to decide the series.
The three test DHL Lions Series will now go into a decider next Saturday, after New Zealand lost their first game on home soil since 2009. Tries from Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray overturned a nine point deficit midway through the second half, and earned the men in red a famous 21-24 victory.
What a game in Wellington!
After 80 minutes of fierce battle, Beauden Barrett’s boot was responsible for all of the All Blacks points, but the outside half will be disappointed he left nine vital points out there. Both Farrell and Barrett had issues with the windy and rainy conditions.
Match Outcome Leads to Decider at Eden Park
Barrett’s opposite number Jonny Sexton was prominent in the media this week with much made of his 10-12 axis with Farrell but Warren Gatland’s call was vindicated. As well as being a solid pillar to function on, the red card issued to Sonny Bill Williams early in the match, altered the home teams game plan. That disruption eventually led to minor defects in the All Blacks immense wall.
It tool every bit of effort by the visitors, to finally crack that wall, and all the Lions men did their upmost best to reach this tremendous upset. 21-24 is surely one of the most famous highlights in the British and Irish Lions history, with so many of the men in red playing thier part today.
So how many of his XV excelled today? See the individual Last Word on Rugby rankings, made by Lions reporter Sam Meade.
Mako Vunipola 6/10
The only man who didn’t get close to his optimum level. Yellow carded for two immature offences, he lacked presence in the scrum and looked every bit the man under intense scrutiny.
Jamie George 8/10
Excellent lineout delivery and cut the most beautiful line to allow Murray the chance to go over.
Tadhg Furlong 8/10
Immense physical presence, reliable in the scrum and, when asked, carried well and made vital metres.
Maro Itoje 9/10
The Lions man of the match. Justified his inclusion, a nuisance all over the park. Brilliant around the breakdown and brought immense energy.
Alun Wyn Jones 7/10
Replaced by Courtney Lawes midway through the second period. Lacked physicality needed to truly contest against this side but presence was felt at the breakdown.
Sam Warburton 8/10
Showed excellent heart and played like a captain should. Showed more assurance around the breakdown and reliable in the lineout.
Sean O’Brien 8/10
Try scorer last week and equally affective this week. Lined up in the Sonny Bill Williams channel to nullify his physicality and got over the gainline well.
Taulupe Faletau 9/10 – Man of the Match
Showed the perfect balance of a back row forward with immense footballing ability. Took his try like a winger and making Billy Vunipola’s absence seem a thing of the past.
Conor Murray 8/10
Try scorer, snipping beautifully to cross the whitewash. Will be slightly disappointed with his box kicking at times but a class act.
Jonny Sexton 8/10
Justified his inclusion. Had great variety to his game both with ball in hand and with the boot. Put his team into some great positions and excelled in his partnership with Farrell.
Owen Farrell 9/10
Kicked the winning penalty and was as brilliant at 12 as he is at 10. Every inch the player Barrett is and will likely line up in the same shirt next week.
Jonathan Davies 8/10
Much was made of the possible overload he would have to do in defence with Farrell alongside him but no such event materialised. Cut some great lines and continued his form from Eden Park.
That winning feeling!
Anthony Watson 8/10
On the receiving end of Williams’s shoulder charge which saw him leave the park. Bided his time on the wing and showed his pace when he started the move which saw Faletau go over.
Elliot Daly 7/10
Didn’t get as many opportunities to show his pace. Kicked the ball dead at a vital point in the game during the second half.
Liam Williams 8/10
Wasn’t able to show his running game but was reliable in defence. Will be critical he didn’t take more under the high ball but played crucial role in Faletau’s try.
British and Irish Lions Squad total – 119/150
The combined effort is one of the better team performances (in this reporters estimation). Substitutions all added value, while their wholehearted effort is going to be remembered for it’s commitment and for the way the side held together, over the full 80 minutes.
It all leads to the decider at Eden Park. That will undoubtedly be one of the most highly anticipated fixtures in World Rugby.
New LWOR Poll Question:
Main photo credit”