The High Five: All Blacks vs British and Irish Lions, third Test

Diggercane Roar Guru

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    The British and Lions have drawn the curtain on their 2017 New Zealand tour, drawing the third Test match against New Zealand in a tense and enthralling affair in front of over 48,000 fans at Eden Park in Auckland, the match ending in a 15-all draw.

    The result sees the Lions level their Test series against the All Blacks after heading into the match at one each. They finish with an overall record of played 10, won five, lost three and drawn two. This series marks the first drawn series between the two sides in the ten series to date.

    Both sides threw everything into the contest as the match went right down to the wire and despite the anti-climatically finish to the series, it was a tremendous result. Overall it was a good tour for the Lions with most picking they would struggle heavily on tour.

    Impatience costly
    This would probably apply to both sides but certainly for the All Blacks as a number of handling errors permeated their performance and proved costly. Arguably several scoring opportunities were shelled with a lack of patience, a lack of patience in forcing the pass a number of times and simple handling errors letting themselves down at crucial moments.

    Such errors are always likely when trying to play at a breakneck pace against a well organised defence such as the Lions but a more tempered approach with ball in hand would have likely paid dividends.

    Codie Taylor All Blacks New Zealand Rugby Union 2017

    . (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    Rookies shine
    There was plenty of nerves around the selections made by the All Black coaching staff, with most of the attention focused on the two players making their first Test starts in such a big match – Ngani Laumepe and Jordie Barrett.

    They were in fact quite solid, both playing a large part in scoring both of the All Blacks tries and Laumepe causing plenty of headaches with ball in hand. The younger Barrett diffused many Lions attacking kicks with authority, sound at the back all match.

    Unfortunately, it was the recalled and experienced Julian Savea who probably struggled the most. His hands really let him down at times and certainly caused a golden opportunity to slip early in the match.

    Then it could be argued several of the All Blacks more experienced players let themselves down at times, whether with ill-discipline or poor options so it would be unfair to single out one player.

    However there is plenty to be positive about considering the number of young players that have been picked and now exposed to the highest level of the game, which should stand the All Blacks in good stead moving forward.

    Lions defence
    The determination and spirit of this Lions side was quite something to behold at times. Their defence in particular was stressed a number of times, yet they continued to hold fast for the majority.

    Raid after raid was repelled and their ability to constantly frustrate the All Blacks at the ruck – robbing their opponents of momentum and forcing the New Zealanders into numerous errors – was a key factor in their positive results in this series and certainly in this match. Holding the All Blacks to five tries in New Zealand across three matches is nothing to be sneezed at.

    No other player epitomised this more than the Lions Welsh centre Jonathan Davies, who was a constant defensive rock in midfield. His quality decision making halted the All Blacks’ momentum in midfield on numerous occasions throughout the three Test matches and was to me a real point of difference between the two sides. He was easily the best midfielder from the three Test series and showing the benefit of experience in such a vital position on the field.

    Controversy reigns
    It would hardly be a hardly fitting to get through a match of this magnitude without a spot of controversy and unfortunately this match proved no different. The bizarre circumstances surrounding the late penalty reversal to a scrum for an accidental offside, a decision which has caused plenty of angst and confusion in rugby circles, will be magnified and scrutinised for a while to come.

    After awarding what seemed a regulation, if unfortunate, penalty against the Lions for Ken Owens playing at the ball in an offside position after the ball was knocked forward in the air by a fellow Lions player, Poite then decided to consult the TMO to ensure accuracy. At first, they appeared to be in agreement, yet further consultation somehow encouraged him to change his mind, deciding a scrum to the All Blacks was the correct call and so it was.

    A truly confusing and staggering period in the match and seemingly, the pressure of the situation perhaps affected the men in charge. I cannot for the life of me remember any similar circumstance before but right or wrong, it’s done and perhaps an example of why one should always question the referee as now, he might just change his mind!

    The Lions must continue
    There can be no doubt that the Lions are a special part of rugby union and surely must stay as a regular fixture on the rugby calendar for many moons to come. This tour was a raging success, the ups and downs over the past six weeks have captured the imagination and the colour, fanfare and prosperity such tours bring to the host nation cannot be underestimated.

    Suggestions that the tours can no longer continue are absolutely baffling to me. Ot would be a sad, sad day to see them discontinued and for the famous red strip to be consigned to the dustbin, not to mention not being able to mingle with the fantastic fans that really do make these tours a raging success.

    I am already determined to be more organised for the next round in 12 years and cannot wait for them to return already!

    That brings the High Five for this match and the Lions tour to a close, though there are plenty more talking points to consider not only from this match, but across the whole tour.

    To finish off with, here is my combined team from the three Test matches played
    15. Jordie Barrett
    14. Israel Dagg
    13. Jonathan Davies
    12. Owen Farrell
    11. Anthony Watson
    10. Beauden Barrett
    9. Connor Murray
    8. Kieran Read
    7. Sean O’Brien
    6. Jerome Kaino
    5. Brodie Retallick
    4. Maro Itoje
    3. Owen Franks
    2. Jamie George
    1. Mako Vunipola

    A Rotundity and happy ex hooker who just loves Rugby really, oh and my kids and Kendra of course who lets me watch as much Rugby as I want, mostly. Follow Digby Ross on Twitter @Diggercane.

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    The Crowd Says (110)

    • July 9th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Adsa said | July 9th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      That was a test series to really saviour, thrills, spills and a bit of French WTF. Let’s hope the Lions head to SA in 2021 and it is just enthralling.

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2017 @ 10:12am
        Diggercane said | July 9th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        I am sure it will be Adsa.

        • July 9th 2017 @ 12:23pm
          Noodles said | July 9th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          Sincerely hope kiwi fans put a lid on the last ref error. There were others that favoured the ABs – like the first penalty goal – and it detracts from what was a very high standard of rugby by both teams. One thing NZers might celebrate is the influence of the AB game which has forced the NH and others to adopt a style that will give rugby a future. This young AB side certainly has one.

          • July 9th 2017 @ 3:04pm
            mace22 said | July 9th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

            If it was the ther way round, you would be crying about how ref’s are scared of the all blacks and they get special treatment. I’d say your a hypocrite .

            • Roar Guru

              July 9th 2017 @ 4:26pm
              biltongbek said | July 9th 2017 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

              Everyone’s a hypocrate these days. It’s nothing special anymore.

            • July 9th 2017 @ 5:22pm
              Pablo said | July 9th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

              I’ve watched this a few times now and 2 things interest me –

              1. If you freeze the video right after the ball has been booted, Kieran Read is wasted in Rugby and needs to be competing against Usain Bolt

              2. As someone mentions in the comments on the video … did Liam Williams actually knock on or did the ball go backwards and when Ken Owens actually touches it is it possible he wasn’t offside at all

              I’m using the letters on the ground as reference points and to me its not as clear cut as it first seems.

              • July 9th 2017 @ 5:32pm
                Jerry said | July 9th 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                Read starts 5-6 m behind the rest of the AB chasers, starts before them and gets up to full pace. If you pause it immediately when it cuts back to the wide angle, he’s just crossing the line (rear foot behind) and the ball has been kicked already. It’s possible he may have been inches in front, but it’s impossible to tell from the broadcast footage.

              • July 9th 2017 @ 5:54pm
                Pablo said | July 9th 2017 @ 5:54pm | ! Report

                Indeed, when you stop it there he is 2 meters ahead of where the kick was taken and his knee is in line with the ball …. at that point he is moving a fraction under the speed of the ball – after that the ball either speeds up or he slows down or he was only in line with the ball at that point because he was offside to begin with.

              • July 9th 2017 @ 6:31pm
                Frisky said | July 9th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                If it was off-side, why were the AB awarded a scrum?

              • July 10th 2017 @ 11:13am
                Jerry said | July 10th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

                Uh, no – he’s behind the ball by a foot or so when it cuts to the wide angle and about 1m in front of where the kick was taken.

            • July 9th 2017 @ 6:03pm
              Ouch said | July 9th 2017 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

              “If it was the ther way round”

              But it’s not. That’s the argument of a 3 year old.

              • Roar Guru

                July 9th 2017 @ 6:25pm
                taylorman said | July 9th 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

                No it’s not, it’s entirely accurate. When refs make decisions that have an adverse element against their team it’s the fans of those teams that do most of the reacting.

                Barnes in 07, Lawrence in 2011, Joubert in the S of Oz quarter final etc etc.

                Shoe on the other foot will always have ones fans and media raising it center stage, no matter who it is.

                That’s how it works.

                Mind you, the 2011 Joubert was a funny one. That time there was no actual decision and it wasn’t French fans constantly raising it. The anti AB brigade who sat there hoping for an upset and were disappointed decided to create an anti Ref campaign with no real substance that’s lasted for years.

    • July 9th 2017 @ 8:05am
      soapit said | July 9th 2017 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      digger one thing about patience tho. the 2nd ab try was created by a bit of a miracle offload which was only just held. if he drops that it could easily go down as another time where more patience was needed but as it was it came off and was the only try created by running play for the whole match.

      fine balance but they do have to push things against these defences.

      massively agree on lions defence, motm collectvely for me

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2017 @ 10:13am
        Diggercane said | July 9th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        Thanks soapit and fair enough but some of those passes did not have to be made, went too far at times for the sake of continuity.

    • July 9th 2017 @ 8:36am
      Offside said | July 9th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      What a great article. Pretty much agree with your series team as well.

    • Roar Guru

      July 9th 2017 @ 8:54am
      Kashmir Pete said | July 9th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report


      Thanks for my Sunday morning read!


    • Roar Pro

      July 9th 2017 @ 9:15am
      The Doc said | July 9th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      Great read Digger. You put in the hard yards today with the blog and 2 articles. well done mate!

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2017 @ 10:14am
        Diggercane said | July 9th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Cheers Doc, all good fun.

    • Roar Guru

      July 9th 2017 @ 9:24am
      Machooka said | July 9th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      Thanks Diggeriwi for your marathon efforts over the past few weeks covering this Lions tour… greatly appreciated buddy.

      As to this ‘high five’ I’d like to second your thoughts on The Lions must continue. It simple must!

      What a spectacle. What supporters. What tradition. Wtf… it must continue.

      Jodie πŸ˜‰ Really?

      • Roar Guru

        July 9th 2017 @ 10:15am
        Diggercane said | July 9th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        Justin thought it was Jordan at times last night πŸ˜‰

        It just has to continue. Cheers Chookie

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