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British and Lions tour - 2017 Rugby update

Lions v All Blacks Series shared after epic 15-15 draw


England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales rugby union players will be back in action as separate entities this autumn after competing down under as a Lions team this summer in the magnificent British and Irish Lions heart-stopping tour to New Zealand. New Zealand captain Kieran Read and Lions captain Sam Warburton shared the series trophy after the epic 15-15 draw to end the dramatic showpiece on the Lions summer tour down under in which Owen Farrell kicked four penalties to complement one from Elliot Daly, and Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett scored All Blacks tries at Eden Park. The Lions and the All Blacks shared the glory after a fierce battle resulted in a drawn series of real heart and soul, as the hard-fought competition went right to the wire. The unusual result was a tribute to the hard work of all the players and their coaches. Some supporters would have preferred they play a decider match or have a penalty shoot-out to determine a single winner.

This six week series gave fans the opportunity to enjoy a lot of great rugby and to watch their favorite sides compete against titan national teams. The was the first drawn series since 1955 in South Africa when four Tests were played. In a rainy finish the two teams of warriors battled against each other to a standstill leaving players and fans uncertain whether to “celebrate or curse” at the final whistle. Eden Park has not been breached since 1994, 38 victorious Tests in succession for the All Blacks before the Lions’ memorable achievement. A frustrated New Zealand captain Kieran Read ripped off his headband and hurled it to the ground after his side had been denied by a questionable call by referee Romain Poite two minutes from time. Poite had called a penalty against Lions hooker, Ken Owens, for handling a knock-on from a re-start after Liam Williams had fumbled the take in the air. After reflection and TMO review, Poite decided that it was an accidental offside.

New Zealand was the stronger side in the first half, but could not take full measure from their dominance, even if there were two tries from starting debutants, centre Ngani Laumape and full-back, Jordie Barrett. The Lions’ rush defence notably caused the All Blacks difficulties throughout the series. New Zealand made errors due to the inexperience in their back-line. Key Lions performances came from lock, Maro Itoje and centre, Jonathan Davies. The Lions did not create chances on the night but were strong and did they yield easily. However they were not able to shake off New Zealand who were driven by a redemption mission. The Lions hung in there, fighting to the end. Owen Farrell had a difficult match that was out-of-kilter from his general performance but remained reliable with his boot as the Lions return of five penalty goals was also helped by a monster 55-metre strike from Elliot Daly just seconds into the second half. Farrell levelled the scores with an amazing 47-metre belter two minutes from time. Farrell’s resolve and nerve were impregnable when it came to delivering.

There was a notable power and increase in ambition in the play of the All Blacks that had not been there in Wellington as the All Blacks returned to their true nature, walloping into the Lions to secure the ball and then using it to their advantage. The stellar Barrett Boys delivered key performances on the night, as the combo brought their natural, instinctive sense of each other and turned them into opportunities. It was a Barrett double-act that made the breakthrough in the match, with the brothers combining with ease in the 15th minute, Beauden hoisting it right, while Jordie, a 6ft 5in giant, lept above Daly to hit it down to Laumape who scored. The Lions were under for long stretches of the first half and New Zealand had countless chances but could not covert. The Lions hung on. Owen Farrell had another pot at goal in the 32nd minute and converted to narrow the gap to one point. The supreme skill of Laumape who off-loaded in the tackle to feed on to Anton Lienert-Brown who found Jordie Barrett in full flight to the line. The conversion was missed and the All Blacks enjoyed a 12-6 lead at the interval. In the second half, Daly put over a 55-metre effort within 80 seconds of the restart, The Lions then missed a lineout with a not straight throw following the yellow card shown to Jerome Kaino for a swinging arm in the tackle on Alun Wyn Jones. The Lions did not capitalize on their advantage until right at the end of the sin-bin time, Farrell sent over a penalty from 45 metres  to level the scores at 12-12.

 

The All Blacks maximised a run into the Lions territory when Kyle Sinckler collapsed a scrum and Beauden Barrett took the three points. The teams moved forward toward a dramatic finale. Farrell slotted another goal in the 78th minute from 47 metres followed by the drama of a seeming penalty awarded at the re-start against the Lions that was adjudged an accidental offside. There is nothing quite like a British and Irish Lions tour bringing together top talents across the United Kingdom. The last two months have provided fascinating insight into the skills of national teams and rugby players progress and the future prospects of each country involved. Before the Lions left for New Zealand and throughout the six weeks tour, selection announcements stirred up outrage by fans in many quarters in the UK. Now with the trip done and the series drawn, the unity between ardent fans of the four nations can be dropped as supporters look forward to the rugby action ahead between the rugby union teams as the Autumn Internationals, Rugby Six Nations, and Japan 2019 loom on the horizon.

Meanwhile New Zealand will appeal World Rugby's ruling that All Blacks center Sonny Bill Williams will not complete his disciplinary suspension in time to play for New Zealand in August’s Bledisloe Cup test against Australia. Williams was suspended for four matches after being sent off during the second test against the British and Irish Lions on July 1 for a dangerous shoulder charge on Lions winger Anthony Watson. Williams is only the third New Zealand All Black to be sent off in a test match and the first in 50 years. Williams missed out on the 3rd test against the British and Irish Lions, a Super Rugby match for the Auckland-based Blues, and will miss a match for his Counties-Manukau province. But a World Rugby judicial panel has ruled an All Blacks warmup match that is proposed by New Zealand as the fourth match of Williams' suspension is not acceptable to be counted in his ban. The panel that included two former Wallabies decided the match between the All Blacks and the Counties and Taranaki provinces was not "meaningful."

In a statement, New Zealand rugby said it would ask World Rugby's appeals committee to review the decision which will see Williams complete his suspension on Aug. 20, the day after the Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney. "Sonny Bill Williams has appealed the World Rugby judicial committee's decision not to include the All Blacks match on 11 August that is described as a split game of 40 minutes each against Counties Manukau and Taranaki, in the four-week suspension given to Williams following a hearing into the red card he received in the second test against the touring British & Irish Lions. "As the matter will now be decided by an appeal committee, no further comment will be made at this time," said the statement. Buy cheap, legal, rugby union tickets for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales now securely online from LiveRugbyTickets.co.uk!

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