07262017

Late Farrell penalty snatches draw for Lions as series ends 1-1

Ngani Laumape scores the first try for the All Blacks

Ngani Laumape seizes a Jordie Barrett knock-back to go over for the All Blacks’ first try

A long-range penalty three minutes from time from Owen Farrell snatched a draw for the Lions in an epic third Test and with it a share of the series.

The All Blacks had led 12-6 at half-time through tries from Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett, and had blown at least two other clear try-scoring opportunities.

But three penalties from Farrell and a monster from Elliot Daly from beyond halfway tied it up at 12-12 with 20 minutes to go.

Not since 1994 had the All Blacks lost at Eden Park, and not in 19 years had they lost consecutive Test matches at home.

And with Jerome Kaino sin-binned and the red-shirted masses in the stadium roaring there was a glorious chance for the Lions to make even more history and win a series in New Zealand for only the second time in 100 years.

Handling errors crept in as minutes ticked away, and when replacement prop Kyle Sinkler was penalised at a scrum on his own 22, Beauden Barrett kicked the penalty, only for Farrell to hit back with a nerveless effort of his own.

And neither side could land the knock-out blow in a frantic final few moments, both sets of players left physically and emotionally exhausted by one of the great Test matches.

Before the series began, the All Blacks were clear favourites, and when they won the first Test at a canter the idea of a drawn series seemed a distant one.

To come back from there to share the spoils is a remarkable achievement, but there was a tangible sense of what might have been having come so close at the death.

All Blacks miss chances to move clear

That the Lions were within six points at the interval was mainly down to the unusual profligacy of the home side in a contest of breathless pace and intensity.

First Julian Savea dropped the ball on the left wing with his route to the try line open, and then the older Barrett brother spilled a short pass 10 metres out with the defence on its heels, before Laumape too knocked on with green space and the white line ahead of him.

But there was poise too from their least experienced men amongst the mayhem, 20-year-old Jordie Barrett tapping back his brother’s cross-kick to set up the opening try for his fellow full debutant Laumape and then running on to Anton Lienert-Brown’s flat pass for the second try after Laumape’s brilliant off-load.

Beauden Barrett also missed a kickable penalty and conversion, the Lions staying in touch through Farrell’s boot even as the inside-centre was uncharacteristically off-key with his passing game.

More to follow.

Teams

Lions: Liam Williams (Wales); Anthony Watson (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Elliot Daly (England); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland); Mako Vunipola (England), Jamie George (England) Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales) Sam Warburton (capt, Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

Replacements: Ken Owens (Wales), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Kyle Sinckler (England), Courtney Lawes (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Rhys Webb (Wales), Ben Te’o (England), Jack Nowell (England)

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett; Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Kieran Read.

Replacements: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa.

What Next?

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