The Roar
The Roar


Highlights: Lions level! All Blacks beaten, Sonny Bill red-carded

Sonny Bill Williams of New Zealand looks back to the field of play as he heads for the changing rooms after receiving a red card. (AAP Image/Dean Pemberton)
Roar Guru
1st July, 2017
8259 Reads

The British and Irish Lions have pipped the All Blacks 24-21 in Wellington to take the series to a decider.

There was plenty of drama throughout, not least the red card to Sonny Bill Williams for a shoulder charge on Anthony Watson in the first half, leaving New Zealand to play 55 minutes with 14 men.

The grisly weather set the game up as a tough, grinding affair and that was the prevailing pattern early on as Beauden Barrett and Owen Farrell went kick for kick.

The scrum was a focal point but neither side gained consistent ascendancy up front.

On first glance, the Williams contact looked innocuous, but replays told a different story, with dangerous contact on Watson’s head, who was pinned by another tackler.

The officials deliberated and referee Jerome Garces was adamant that there was no choice but to dismiss the number 12.

Following the Williams send-off, coach Steve Hansen threw a curve ball, dragging off backrower Jerome Kaino for centre Ngani Laumape.

Anton Lienert-Brown was charged with supporting the the scrum when required.

Despite the advantage, the Lions struggled to gain momentum, guilty of ill discipline and making errors in the wet conditions. At half time the scores were locked at 9-9.


The dynamic continued in the second term, with both teams jostling for territory and trying to force penalty opportunities.

Barrett kicked the home side to an 18-9 lead and the Kiwis looked well in control. The Lions weren’t done, however, and kept asking questions of the defence.

Toby Faletau was the beneficiary, lurking on the end of a left wing overlap after strong lead-up work from Watson on the far side.

He held off Israel Dagg to get the game’s first try.

Again, New Zealand looked to have settled, nudging the score to 21-14 via the boot of Barrett. Lions prop Mako Vunipola made it an uphill battle for the visitors as he was sin-binned for an illegal cleanout and repeated infringements.

It wasn’t over. Front rower, Jack McGrath was an unlikely game breaker when he charged into space from a Johnny Sexton short ball.

The All Blacks were scrambling and Connor Murray raced over from the ensuing ruck. Farrell converted to tie things up at 21-all.

Ultimately, the game was decided by another moment of controversy when Charlie Faumuina was penalised for tackling a man in the air, despite the attacker jumping into the tackle to gather a high pass.


The All Blacks were fuming and Farrell capitalised, slotting the match-winning penalty.

It was the first time the All Blacks have been held tryless for three years, since the first Bledisloe against the Wallabies in 2014.

That was just reward for the starchy Lions defence, the likes of Sean O’Brien and Maro Itoje tenacious from start to finish.

The result keeps the series alive at 1-1, with the decider to be played at Eden Park next week.