Burning questions from the Eden Park stalemate

Lynette Rowe
July 9, 2017

A cloud descended over All Black fans at Eden Park and around the country last night as the series-ending test against the British & Irish Lions ended in controversy.

The Lions grabbed points from three Owen Farrell penalties and a massive kick from half-way from wing Elliot Daly.

There was an air of anti-climax following the final whistle in Auckland, with team captains Sam Warburton and Kieran Read admitting their obvious disappointment at the result.

In what was a remarkably similar chain of events to the quarterfinal between Australia and Scotland at Rugby World Cup 2015, Lions player Liam Williams appeared to knock the ball into replacement Ken Owens in an offside position and just as Craig Joubert had at Twickenham two years ago, Poite's first instinct was to award a penalty to the All Blacks.

Having been outplayed in the first Test before securing a memorable victory in the second, the Lions were chasing only their second series win in New Zealand.

However, after initially awarding a penalty, referee Romain Poite changed his mind following a TMO review and instead deemed Owens guilty of accidental offside, meaning the All Blacks were only given a scrum. I think we've had a few things not go our way with injures and stuff not like that, and we haven't quibbled about it.

"It's a real benefit when we look to run specific moves".

That being said, avoiding defeat against the world's No. 1 global outfit is no mean feat, giving coach Warren Gatland cause to stand proud of his achievement, victorious or not.

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Neither Gatland nor Hansen were too concerned, however, about the lack of extra time, preferring the unlikely, but convenient, idea of the Lions reconvening in the colours of the Barbarians this November for a decider with the All Blacks at Twickenham. "The series was pretty well fought out, the teams couldn't be split and that's the way it goes".

Former England worldwide Will Greenwood told Sky Sports: This is one of the weirdest atmospheres I've ever experienced in a stadium, no-one really knows what to do.

Warren Gatland, the Lions coach, showed up at his after match press conference with a red clown's nose in a clear dig at the New Zealand media who had labeled him a clown earlier in the series. I'm not saying we didn't have any respect but we've gained some over here through our performances. We came here to win.

Poite, however, chose to discuss the decision with his assistants and the television official and eventually ruled that Owens was accidentally offside.

But the 58-year-old added that "maybe a drawn series was fair".

That they could not produce the same for the third Test is a shame, but they still displayed the grit, resolve and sheer bravery to refuse to accept defeat.

"To walk away with a draw doesn't mean much", he said. This has been a series to remember and, thankfully, one that will be remembered for the right reasons.

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