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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 11 August, 2020

50-year wait for All Black red card is over and more talking points as the Lions level up

A wet night in Wellington turned into one of the great days for the Lions.

THE LIONS HAVE levelled their series with New Zealand after a gruelling slog in Wellington. Here’s our match report and some talking points after full-time.

 Sonny Bill Walks

There is a fair argument that the All Blacks get a little more than their fair share of refereeing decisions, and the best evidence for that has been to show the length of time they have gone without received a red card.

Before Sonny Bill Williams in Wellington today, Colin Meads held the dubious honour of being the last man to see red wearing the black. That was December 1967.

Sonny Bill Williams is shown a red card by Jerome Garces Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

In 2017, Williams’ no-arm hit on Anthony Watson was clearly filthy in open play. With the replay, it looked positively vicious. Referee Jerome Garces didn’t shirk his responsibility, immediately calling the impact a red card and maintaining that stance despite TMO George Ayoub seeming to make an effort to talk him down.

Historic victory

This is the fifth tour to New Zealand since the Lions went and won the 1971 series over the All Blacks. Since then, they have won just two of the 15 Tests; once in ’77 and once in ’93.

Conor Murray celebrates winning Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Despite the absence of SBW, it took a long time for the Lions to make the win look likely as indiscipline, lack of invention and a huge effort from 14 All Blacks combined to put the hosts 18 – 9 up with 20 minutes to go. That was backs-to-the-wall time and that was the time the Lions capitalised on tired bodies and put their twin playmaking threat to use.

Beauden’s off night almost as crucial as Sonny Bill’s exit

Against 14 men, the Lions discipline (8 – 13 was the final penalty count) was almost disastrous. The third quarter of the game saw the tourists throw away some extremely lax penalties between ignorance of the offside line and a tacklers lacking awareness of how far their hand is slipping up.

Beauden Barrett with Conor Murray Source: Photosport/Grant Down/INPHO

Beauden Barrett kicked 7 from 10; not a bad night stats wise, but after batting a hundred last weekend, the three he missed – on his home ground – looked quite straightforward.

Owen Farrell can also point to missed opportunities of course, but this New Zealand side will feel they should have won this game with 14 men.

Early possession counts

New Zealand came out on top of possession and territory by the end, but it took 11 minutes for them to barge out of their own half and win the penalty which Barrett cracked off the post.

Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Otoje try to block Aaron Smith Source: James Crombie/INPHO

So much happened after those opening exhanges when they were pegged back deep in their half that it’s easy to discount them, but they clearly were frustrated by the need to do little more than kick and defend for the first 10 minutes.

That frustration brought about the feeling that they needed to make big plays to change the game. And nobody likes a big play more than Sonny Bill. And on his second Test match since the World Cup final, he lost his head, forgot he had to use his arms and crumpled Anthony Watson’s head into his shoulders.

Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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