Eden Park depicted a hollow atmosphere on Saturday, after the Lions drew 15-15 with the All Blacks thus ensuring the DHL Lions Series was shared.
For the Lions it was a catch 22 – they avoided defeat, but they didn’t leave victorious. For New Zealand on the other hand, they will feel little else but disappointment.
In a monumental battle, it was balanced on a knife’s edge. A controversial late penalty was awarded to the All Blacks with a minute to go, only for the referee to overturn his original decision – very much to the bemusement of the New Zealand population.
DHL Lions Series: All Blacks and Lions Share Spoils
First-half tries from starting All Blacks Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett gave the home side the upper hand at the break But 12 points from the boot of Owen Farrell, including a massive Elliot Daly ‘special’ meant honours were even.
A fitting finale to an amazing Test series @AllBlacks.
If any solace exists from this series for the Lions, it is that ‘heart and commitment truly can match outright talent’ if their application is correctly applied. Several Lions have certainly endeared themselves to the rugby world. The DHL Series has highlighted new stars and some stellar performances; noted in these LWOS player ratings.
Those men will be eagerly awaiting the return of the Northern Hemisphere season, but will never forget the British and Irish Lions experience and fellowship.
So, fans will ask ‘how did the XV who took the field fare tonight?’
Mako Vunipola 7/10
A marked improvement on last week from last weeks underwhelming performance against the All Blacks. Scrummaged better but didn’t offer a threat in the open field.
Jamie George 6/10
Wasn’t his night in Auckland. Usually immensely reliable with his lineout delivery but was replaced by Ken Owens when he became vulnerable.
Tadhg Furlong 7/10
One of the men of the series for the Lions. Excellent ball carrier and equally prominent in the scrum
Maro Itoje 8/10
The Saracen looked as if he could have just as easily worn an All Blacks jersey he was that good. Excellent lineout option and always keen to carry.
Alun Wyn Jones 7/10
A huge presence in defense and justified his inclusion after some lacklustre performances earlier on in the series.
Sam Warburton 8/10
The captain was excellent against the All Blacks in Auckland. Gave away some contentious penalties early on but his presence at the breakdown was impressive.
Sean O’Brien 6/10
Robbed of the chance of another standout performance when he was replaced after a heavy knock. Nevertheless his physicality was clear from the start.
Taulupe Faletau 8/10
From the start proved that he was capable of filling Billy Vunipola’s shoes. An excellent footballer and his battle with Kieran Read was thrilling.
Conor Murray 8/10
Another man who can leave with his head held high. Went toe for toe with Aaron Smith throughout the series. Box kicked brilliantly and a massive leader.
Jonny Sexton 7/10
Had some great variety to his game. Kicked at the right times and with great accuracy but was also keen to take the All Blacks on physically.
Owen Farrell 8/10
Mr.Reliable with his boot. Kicked four from four this week and like many of his team mates has proven that he is every bit the player Beauden Barrett can be.
Jonathan Davies 7/10
An ever present throughout the tour. Wasn’t able to cut the lines he has for the past few weeks but offered a great threat ball in hand.
Elliot Daly 8/10
Kicked a penalty from his own half to ensure the Lions drew the series. Was able to show his pace in the open field. Certainly justified his inclusion.
Anthony Watson 7/10
A battle of attrition at Eden Park meant Watson was starved of opportunities against the All Blacks. Made some vital tackles in defense.
Liam Williams 8/10
Another man who can raise his hand for man of the series. Offered great threat in the open field but made a few errors under the high ball.
British and Irish Lions total: 110
The third test was probably where each side was more studied on the other. Tactically, both managed to excite the crowd yet the pressure mounted on each. As that happened the game became more centered. It was a game that wasn’t able to open up as easily. Which was great for purists, but was less exciting than test one of the DHL Lions Series.
A draw is never pretty. It would feel like a win for each, but the home nation will understand if some believe they came away from the second and third tests, in a less secure number one position–still number one, but being chased hard from the very best [composite side] from the United Kingdom.
A very entertaining and compelling test series.
“Main photo credit”