All Blacks, Lions finish series all square

International
by Sam Phillips

Eden Park has been engulfed by silence for the first time in 23 years, as the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions finished the third and final Test all square at 15-all.

With no extra time played, a 1-1 drawn series is the final result.

There were nervous errors throughout but on the whole, rugby doesn't get much better.

The pace was top notch, the skills were first class and the physicality unparalleled.

Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg front up for a powerful haka. Photo: Getty ImagesAdd that to the enthralling individual battles and the grandstand finish and you have a thriller for the ages.But the talking point will be referee Romain Poite's call to water down an accidental offside penalty with two minutes to play.

The French referee initially blew a penalty against Ken Owens from an All Blacks kick off but after consultation with the TMO, decided to award a Kiwi scrum instead.

Three minutes later and full time had been blown, with neither side sure how to react.

This was always going to be a match won in individual battles.

Maro Itoje was at his energetic best and his game is every bit as impressive as the world class Brodie Retallick, who was similarly immense.

Sam Warburton was at his pilfering best and his battle with Sam Cane was intriguing.Aaron Smith and Anton Leinert-Brown celebrate Ngani Laumape's try. Photo: Getty ImagesConor Murray continued to show why he is regarded among the very best, if not the best, halfback in the world, while up against his main competitor for that title in Aaron Smith.

Then there was the battle of the centres and wings, Owen Farrell keeping his team in the contest off the tee, while Ngani Laumape scored the first All Blacks try and set up the second, with Anthony Watson and Julian Savea both influential for their respective teams.

The opening 10 minutes were shaky but the game soon clicked into top gear, where it remained for the rest of the night.

This was best exemplified in an extraordinary passage of play which started with the Lions breaking out of their half unscathed, having put together defensive stand after defensive stand in the opening 10 minutes.

After their forward pack repeatedly rolled over the gain line and eventually worked into the All Blacks 22, the Lions looked certain to score before Beauden Barrett picked off a wayward cutout pass and hit the jets.

He offloaded but the Kiwis were dragged down five out from the Lions line.Ngani Laumape scored the first try of the match and set up the second. Photo: Getty ImagesTwo phases later, a trademark Barrett cross field kick to his brother, Jordie, created the first five pointer of the match, the younger Barrett tapping the ball back down to Laumape for a brilliant try.

Farrell slotted his first penalty of the night at the 19 minute mark and he did the same 13 minutes later, before the Kiwis crossed again.

This time, Laumape was the creator.Owen Farrell kept the Lions in the match off the tee. Photo: Getty ImagesThe tireless inside centre ran a perfect line off a lineout between Owen Farrell and Jonathan Davies, offloading around the corner to Anton Leinert-Brown, who found a wide open Jordie Barrett for the second try of the night.

That took the score to 12-6 at the break but within two minute of the second half resuming, Elliot Daly slotted a penalty from 55 out to narrow the gap.

Jerome Kaino was sent to the sin bin for a high shot on Alun Wyn Jones at the 50 minute mark and while the Lions weren't able to make the home side pay with a try, Farrell did add another penalty from 45 out, levelling the scores with 20 to play.

The All Blacks put their noses back in front with 13 to play after winning a scrum penalty directly in front, leaving the Lions pressing in a grandstand finish.

Farrell slotted a clutch shot from 45 out to level scores once again and that is where the score stayed.

An unbelievable finish to an incredible series.

RESULT

All Blacks 15

Tries: Laumape, J Barrett

Cons: B Barrett

Pens: B Barrett

British and Irish Lions 15

Tries:

Cons:

Pens: Farrell 4, Daly

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