Third Test on July 8 in Auckland gets more exciting
Sheevas Dayal for Indian Newslink
It was a wet and windy night on Saturday, July 1, 2017 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, when the Lions team rolled the Mighty All Blacks keeping the series alive. It was a night of British and Irish Lions that painted the streets of Wellington red.
The British and Irish Lions’ 24-21 win over the World Rugby Champions in the second Test in Wellington broke some ludicrous All Blacks records.
Sonny Bill Williams’ red card got the Lions back into business, scoring the game’s only two tries to set up a grand series finale in Auckland on July 8, 2017.
Winning streak broken
The loss broke All Blacks’ incredible 47 game home winning streak, dating back to 2009, when they lost 32-29 to South Africa in Hamilton.
The Lions also held the All Blacks try-less at home for the first time since Australia achieved the feat in 2002.
Very few believed in the Lions, but the Lions believed in themselves as they showed that they were a team of heart and soul.
A rare feat
Only twice in well over a century have a Lions team come back from a 1-0 series deficit. They have given themselves a chance to win the series this Saturday.
The All Blacks are Lords of this Wellington Rugby manor, unbeaten since England triumphed in 2003. Last weekend, the pitch belonged to the Lions and the city to the thousands of fans.
Steady in those camper vans on Sunday as the caravan heads north.
It was in the final quarter that the Lions managed to take advantage of the All Blacks shortfall with tries from Toby Faletau and Conor Murray which levelled the score to 21-all after the conversion.
In the 77th minute, it just happened what the All Blacks supporters dreaded; the Lions were awarded a penalty which Owen Farrell converted following a tackle in the air on Kyle Sinckler by Charlie Faumuina.
The dismissal of Williams had a big impact although the advantage was not particularly well used by the Lions until late. Beauden Barrett missed three penalties straight in front of the goal post which would have changed the tempo.
Forward pack strikes
It was the Lions forward pack that rose to the challenge. It was a huge night for Alun Wyn Jones as well as the fellow forwards who had to make the All Blacks work. And they did. Tadhg Furlong rumbled, so did Sean O’Brien.
There was a wholly different feel about the Lions. They were up for the fight, proactive rather than reactive and passive. Maro Itoje showed just why he ought to have started last week, busy and bothersome, although his enthusiasm saw him give away too many penalties.
Lions Captain Sam Warburton was unwavering as the Lions needed him to be at the breakdown. And they got it. The back-row was notably influential.
The All Blacks set the pace initially in the second-half. There was relief when Mako Vunipola was declared only to have run over Barrett, felling him in contact in the 56th minute, and that the offence was not considered more serious than a yellow card.
The Lions needed something and quick. And they got it. On the hour they went right where Watson made good ground, back left, Williams fed Toby Faletau who had much to do. And he did it, crashing through Israel Dagg to score a try of which any marksman would have been proud. It was a terrific finish.
The Lions, though, would not lie down. In the 68th minute, Jamie George cut a lovely angle and sped towards the New Zealand line, creating havoc. Conor Murray was quick to spot that TJ Perenara, who had just come on, had drifted and the crossed over. It was not an easy conversion as it was just two metres from the touchline but Farrell converted it to level the score.
New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Waisake Naholo, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane; 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, Ngani Laumape.
British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Tadhg Furlong; Alun Wyn Jones, Maro Itoje; Sam Warburton, Sean O’Brien, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander, Rhys Webb, Ben Te’o, Jack Nowell.
Sheevas Dayal is our Rugby Correspondent based in Auckland.