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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 26 June, 2019


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Good lord, it’s early on a Saturday morning but there wasn’t any need to set the alarm for this one with the anticipation and excitement of a deciding Test building up all week.

After nine games and seven weeks on the road, the 2017 Lions tour comes down to this: 80 minutes of rugby at Auckland’s Eden Park as Warren Gatland’s side go face-to-face with the All Blacks. Immortality beckons, don’t you know?

Labelled as one of the biggest games of all time, this one certainly has all the ingredients to be an epic and we’re following every kick of the ball right here.

Kick off isn’t for another hour so there’s plenty of time to pop the kettle on, position yourself on the sofa and ready yourself for the third and final Test.

The Lions are in the house!

Sean O'Brien leaves the team hotel Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Maro Itoje arrives , BIL Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Lions fans before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Lions fans before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Let’s take a check on the teams before we go any further.

The Lions are unchanged from last week’s second Test with Gatland placing faith in the players which forced this series decider.

Steve Hansen, however, has made some interesting changes to his backline with 20-year-old fullback Jordie Barrett and 24-year-old centre Ngani Laumape handed their first All Blacks starts.

Hansen has also recalled powerful wing Julian Savea in a bid to add some experience to his backline, the 53-times capped Hurricanes man returning after missing out on selection in the two opening Tests.

Rieko Ioane drops out of the match day squad altogether as a result, with the returning Malakai Fekitoa claiming the All Blacks’ 23 shirt as Israel Daggs moves back to the right wing.


15. Liam Williams
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Owen Farrell
11. Elliot Daly
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Maro Itoje
5. Alun Wyn Jones
6. Sam Warburton (captain)
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Taulupe Faletau


16. Ken Owens
17. Jack McGrath
18. Kyle Sinckler
19. Courtney Lawes
20. CJ Stander
21. Rhys Webb
22. Ben Te’o
23. Jack Nowell

All Blacks:

15. Jordie Barrett
14. Isreal Dagg
13. Anton Lienert-Brown
12. Ngani Laumape
11. Julian Savea
10. Beauden Barrett
9. Aaron Smith

1. Joe Moody
2. Codie Taylor
3. Owen Franks
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Samuel Whitelock
6. Jerome Kaino
7. Sam Cane
8. Kieran Read (captain)


16. Nathan Harris
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Charlie Faumuina
19. Scott Barrett
20. Ardie Savea
21. TJ Perenara
22. Aaron Cruden
23. Malakai Fekitoa

Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens while Murray Kinsella is in position in Auckland as we bring you live minute-by-minute coverage from Eden Park.

The atmosphere is building nicely inside Eden Park ahead of kick off with another large Lions following making themselves seen and heard.

Lions fans before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

A Lions fan before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Taulupe Faletau leaves the team hotel Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Lions fans before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Right, which way is this one going to go? Can the Lions conjure a big performance and pull off a famous victory or will we see a huge response from the All Blacks?

Poll Results:

All Blacks win (397)
Lions win (258)
Draw (97)

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has been speaking to Sky Sports pre-match:

“It’ll be won up front like all Test matches are. The Lions will be thinking the same thing so it’ll be a great contest.

“We’ve got to play. It doesn’t have to be width but we need to keep the ball in hand more than we did in the first two Tests.

“There’s been opportunities there we just haven’t taken them. We have to trust our instincts and play.”

Not long until kick off now. How are the nerves? Are well all PUMPED?

Jonathan Sexton warms up before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Warren Gatland Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Sam Warburton leads the Lions out, and here comes Kieran Read and the All Blacks.

Buckle up, we’re all set!

Flag 1Mins

Kick off! Johnny Sexton gets the nod from referee Roman Poite and we’re away!


Aaron Smith gathers the kick off and his box-kick is fired up towards halfway. The All Blacks work it infield and win the penalty after Sam Warburton is penalised for hands in the ruck. An early chance for Beauden Barrett to settle any nerves and get the hosts up and running.


But he misses! The out-half pulls it wide from 40 yards out and that’s a let off for the Lions. The All Blacks have enjoyed all the possession in the opening five mintues.


Murray gets a good clearance away but the Lions are then penalised at the lineout. The All Blacks take the free kick quickly and look to spread it wide as Beauden and Jordie Barrett combined but the chance goes begging as Savea can’t hang on to the offload.


The Lions have been stuck inside their own half for the first nine minutes and after good work from Warburton and Mako Vunipola, Owen Farrell is hit as he looks to clear and knocks it on.


Farrell has endured a nightmare start. Itoje steals the ball and the Lions have the chance to clear their lines and bring play up the field but the England back skews his kick into touch on the full.


But is let off the hook as Itoje wins the lineout and the Lions suddenly have go forward ball for the first time. The second row and Daly combine to drive towards the line and a big drive from Furlong brings the Lions within metres.


Oh my word! We can’t keep up. The Lions fling it wide but Farrell’s looping pass is intercepted by Barrett and Laumape is away. Davies makes great ground to get back and make the tackle before Watson gathers the attempted offload. Breathless stuff.

Flag 13Mins

TRY! All Blacks 5-0 Lions (Laumape)

Superb from the All Blacks. With a penalty advantage, Beauden Barrett looks cross field and kicks towards his brother Jordie, who gets up and palms it back to Laumape who gathers and dives over in the right corner.


And Barrett converts from this right touchline to give the ABs the early advantage. What a start to the Test match!


Jonathan Sexton Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Tadhg Furlong with Sam Whitelock and Joe Moody Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Sean O'Brien with Kieran Read and Ngani Laumape Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Murray makes a darting break and looks to offload to the supporting Furlong. The Lions recycle possession and Davies stabs through a perfectly-weighted grubber and Barrett is bundled into touch by Daly.


Chance for Farrell to get the Lions on the board here as the All Blacks are pinged for not rolling away when the tourists looks to set the maul rolling.


PENALTY! All Blacks 7-3 Lions (Farrell)

No mistake from Farrell and the Lions are up and running.


Jordie Barrett does brilliantly to gather the restart and from there, the All Blacks look to pounce. Beauden’s pinpoint cross-field kick finds Julian Savea, who runs all over Liam Williams and the Lions are scrambling — but Sam Cane knocks on!


Vunipola goes down for treatment and we have a brief stoppage in play. A scintillating start in Auckland.


Elliot Daly with Isreal Dagg Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Maro Itoje with Julian Savea Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Owen Farrell kicks a penalty Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


The Lions are all over the place as a huge scrum from the All Blacks sees Aaron Smith emerge with the ball but again a handling error lets the tourists off the hook as Barrett spills it in contact.

From the scrum, the Lions win the penalty only for Sexton to miss touch with the kick.


The Lions are really hanging on here. Williams does all the hard work to safely take the up-and-under but then loses the ball when he’s hit by an All Black. The hosts are dominating.


Laumape knocks on with the line at his mercy. How are the Lions still in this game?


The All Blacks have been dominant in the opening half an hour but have squandered a number of glorious opportunities and should really be at least two scores to the good at this stage.


Davies smashes Jordie Barrett and Warburton does brilliantly on the ground to steal possession before the All Blacks are penalised at the breakdown.


The Lions look to take the penalty quickly and shift it right to Anthony Watson, who slips but gets back and makes good ground. The England winger is involved again and the All Blacks are penalised for hands in the ruck.

Kieran Read and Sean O’Brien are both on the ground and requiring treatment. O’Brien looks to be holding his shoulder but he’s back up as Farrell calls for the kicking tee.


PENALTY! All Blacks 7-6 Lions (Farrell)

And it sails straight between the posts as Farrell reduces the deficit to just one point.


Owen Farrell kicks a penalty Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ngani Laumape celebrates scoring his side's opening try Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Liam Williams with Ngani Laumape Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Brilliant from Sexton as he spots the gap and cuts through it, offloading to the supporting Farrell. The second offload doesn’t go to hand but the Lions retain possession and look to hammer away at the ABs defence.

The hosts stand firm, though, and win the penalty.

Flag 37Mins

TRY! All Blacks 12-6 Lions (Jordie Barrett)

Retallick wins the lineout and Laumape’s offload is absolutely sensational. It creates the opening for Anton Lienert-Brown and Jordie Barrett doesn’t have to break stride to run it in. Beauden misses the conversion.


Sexton is back up after that ankle knock and places a beautiful kick in behind to give the Lions one final chance before the break — but the All Blacks safely win the lineout and then win the penalty.


The Lions head back into the sheds trailing to some Laumape and Barrett brilliance, but it could and probably should have been more. Owen Farrell’s boot has kept the tourists in this contest.


CJ Stander is on for this second half with Sean O’Brien, who picked up that heavy knock in the first half, making way. A huge 40 minutes of rugby coming your way!


And we’re back underway in Auckland.


Barrett’s restart doesn’t go 10 metres and the Lions then win the penalty. Elliot Daly takes the ball and says he’s going to have a shot at goal here. He’s at least 55 metres out!


PENALTY! All Blacks 12-9 Lions (Daly)

He absolutely nails it! What a superb kick from Daly as it drops over and the Lions are back to within three.


Perfect start to the half for the Lions but they’re caught offside from the restart and the All Blacks opt against the kick at goal and go for the corner instead. Barrett finds a brilliant touch on the far side.


Here come the All Blacks again as they fling it wide through the hands but Jordie Barrett’s final pass out to Savea is forward and the Lions are given a reprieve.


Jordie Barrett celebrates scoring their second try with Julian Savea Source: Photosport/Marty Melville/INPHO

Kieran Read comes out for his 100th cap Source: Photosport/Marty Melville/INPHO

Elliot Daly kicks a penalty Source: James Crombie/INPHO


The second half has been very stop-start so far and we’re going upstairs here to look at potential foul play from Jerome Kaino.

Alun Wyn Jones took the ball into contact and knocked it on but it appears Kaino’s arm goes straight into the lock’s head. He goes off for a HIA as Poite consults with his TMO.


Yellow! “Unfortunately the straight arm went into the face of red number four with no force. For me, it’s a yellow card,” says Poite and Kaino is heading for the bin.


Jamie George’s throw isn’t straight but he’ll get another chance over the far side after the ball goes out off Barrett. The Lions have a great attacking platform here as Watson and Williams combine but the referee pulls it back for a forward pass.

Sexton has passed his HIA and is back on for Te’o.


The All Blacks are under huge pressure! Jordie Barrett is hit hard by Davies and his kick goes out on the full. Itoje rises highest to claim the lineout and CJ Stander puts the head down and drives.


But the moves breaks down again after another handling error and the chance is gone. Three minutes left on Kaino’s sin bin.


Barrett takes the opportunity to clear his line and his booming kick is fumbled by Daly and the All Blacks will have the lineout. Hansen, meanwhile, has made two changes as Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumuina replace Joe Moody and Owen Franks in the front row.


It’s all a bit scrappy at the moment but that doesn’t make it any less engrossing. The Lions manage to turn it over and streak away down this near side, before Brodie Retallick is pulled up for a high tackle on Williams.

Flag 59Mins

PENALTY! All Blacks 12-12 Lions (Farrell)

And the Lions are level! Farrell strikes the penalty sweetly and it sails between the posts.


What a kick from Farrell! 1-1 in the series, 12-12 in the deciding Test and 20 minutes remaining. Strap yourself in, we’re set for an epic finale.


Changes on both sides. Kyle Sinckler and Jack McGrath have been introduced by Gatland with Furlong and Mako making way. Ardie Savea is on for the ABs, who are back to their full complement with Kaino back on.


Oh my word our nerves and there’s still 18 minutes remaining. The Lions are building through the phases but Lawes knocks on in the tackle and the chance is gone.


This one is on an absolute knife edge.


Sensational from the Barrett brothers in the most testing circumstances. Jordie finds Beauden with a lovely offload and the latter stabs through a grubber which trickles into touch on that far side.

A huge lineout for George and he finds his man in Courtney Lawes as the Lions clear their lines through Murray. Both sides chipping away.


The Lions stand firm as Faletau wraps Barrett up and forces the out-half to knock on. Sam Warburton is trudging off for what appears to be a HIA and Alun Wyn Jones is back on, with Lawes moving to the back row.

Malakai Fekitoa is on for the All Blacks after replacing Ngani Laumape.


PENALTY! All Blacks 15-12 Lions (Barrett)

Crockett gets the better of Kyle Sinckler and after the scrum goes down, Poite awards the penalty to the All Blacks. Barrett makes no mistakes from in front of the posts.


A big call from Gatland as he sends Rhys Webb on for Conor Murray, who has been excellent again tonight.


That’s so poor from Jamie George. His lineout throw isn’t straight and the Lions hand possession back to the All Blacks. That was the hooker’s last involvement as he’s withdrawn for Ken Owens. 10 minutes remaining.


Jordie Barrett celebrates scoring their second try with Beauden Barrett and Julian Savea Source: Photosport/Peter Meecham/INPHO

Ngani Laumape scores their first try Source: Photosport/Peter Meecham/INPHO

Jonathan Davies with Taulupe Faletau Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Inexcusable from Liam Williams, as he knocks it on inside his own 22 and this game, and the series, is slipping away from the Lions.


A raft of changes for the Lions. Jack Nowell and Ben Te’o are on for Watson and Sexton while Warburton is back on after that HIA.

Aaron Cruden, Nathan Harris and TJ Perenara are on for the All Blacks.


Penalty! After a couple of resets, the Lions get a big push on from the scrum and Farrell can kick us up to halfway. Five minutes remaining.


The Lions safely win the lineout and it’s all a bit messy but Crockett doesn’t roll away and it’s a penalty! Farrell is calling for the tee.

Flag 76Mins

PENALTY! All Blacks 15-15 Lions (Farrell)

AND HE NAILS IT! Farrell strikes it sweetly and the Lions are level! Three minutes remaining.


OH NO! The Lions make a mess of the restart and Ken Owens is penalised for being offside after Williams fumbled. Poite is going upstairs to have a look at it again but it looks pretty clear cut.


But the officials have come to the conclusion that it was accidental offside! The All Blacks will have a scrum rather than a penalty. A huge, huge call from Poite.


What on earth is going on!? Webb somehow comes away with the ball from the scrum and the Lions look to be away but it’s knocked on. The clock has gone red.


What a finish to an absolutely sensational Test match and the series is drawn 1-1!


There’s an eerie silence inside Eden Park with both teams not really sure what to make of that. Sam Warburton has been speaking to Sky Sports:

“I’m a bit speechless, I’m not sure what to make of that. I was ready to go into extra-time but my legs aren’t, I’m cramping up everywhere.

“We knew what the challenge would be, we had six to eight weeks to become the best team in the world and we had to beat outright the best team in New Zealand.

“Obviously as players we’re gutted not to get that win.”


You can read Murray Kinsella’s on-the-whistle report from Auckland here.

Owen Farrell celebrates scoring a penalty to level the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Kieran Read is receiving his 100th All Black cap on the podium at the minute but here’s what Maro Itoje has had to say to Sky Sports.

“I’m incredibly proud and honoured to have been a part of this team. It’s been one of the best six or seven weeks of my life to wear this red jersey is a dream come true for me.”

“We came here with the hopes and intentions of winning and we didn’t quite do that. We didn’t play the plan exactly how we wanted to do it but NZ are a top team.

“We went toe to toe with them, we hoped to get the win but didn’t.”


Strange scenes at Eden Park at the end of a memorable series and tour.


That’s all from us but we’ll have plenty more reaction from Auckland on The42 throughout the day. Thanks for joining us throughout the 2017 tour!

Kieran Read and Sam Warburton lift the DHL NZ cup after the series finished a draw Source: James Crombie/INPHO

About the author:

Ryan Bailey