Lions level series against New Zealand

by AFP

A late Owen Farrell penalty earned the British and Irish Lions a pulsating 24-21 victory over the 14-man All Blacks on Saturday to send the three-Test series to a decider next week.

After All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams was sent off for a shoulder-charge on 25 minutes, the Lions roared back from 18-9 down in the second half with two tries, before Farrell kicked the winning points on 77 minutes.

The All Blacks' first home defeat since 2009, when they lost 29-32 to South Africa in Hamilton, leaves the series on a knife-edge ahead of next week's third Test in Auckland.

Conor Murray crosses for the Lions second try of the night. Photo: Getty Images"Give them a lot of credit for staying in the game, taking it all the way 

to the wire with 14 men -- they did extremely well," said Lions captain Sam Warburton.

"We're glad that we got the win, and now we've got the finale that everybody wants."

The Lions scored the only tries of the match with Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray crossing in a tense second half as they recovered from after being nine points down with 20 minutes to play.

New Zealand went a man down on 25 minutes after Williams' shoulder crunched into the head of Anthony Watson -- the All Blacks' first red card in 50 years, since the legendary Colin "Pinetree" Meads was sent off against Scotland in 1967.

In the heated encounter, a must-win for the Lions after last week's 30-15 defeat, the visitors also went a player down in the second half when prop Mako Vunipola was yellow-carded for a late challenge.

When the final whistle blew and the smoke cleared, the Lions celebrated to a roar from the sea of red-clad fans in the stand, while the All Blacks went into a close-knit huddle. 

"You never want to turn up and play with 14 men but I thought the effort was there," said All Blacks captain Kieran Read. 

"We'll turn up next week and look forward to it."


19th minute Beauden Barrett opens the scoring with a penalty goal, as the All Blacks take a 3-0 lead in teeming Wellington rain. Owen Farrell responds in kind for the Lions four minutes later.

25th minute A red card, as All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams is sent off for thumping Lions winger Anthony Watson with a shoulder charge flush to the face.


Sonny seeing red. 🔴 #LionsNZ2017 #NZLvLIO

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26th minute All Blacks coach Steve Hansen immediately goes to his bench, injecting Ngani Laumape into Williams' second-five role and removing Jerome Kaino to leave his side a forward down.

40th minute The sides head into half-time at 9-9, with Barrett and Farrell trading two subsequent first-half penalty goals.

53rd minute Barrett notches a pair of three-pointers in the early second half, handing his All Blacks side a six-point buffer.

56th minute Lions loosehead Mako Vunipola goes to the sin bin for repeated niggling penalties, leaving each side with 14 men for 10 minutes.

60th minute TRY. The Lions get back into the match, as Taulupe Faletau crosses on the left edge after a clever attacking play. Farrell misses the conversion, leaving his side 18-14 behind with 20 to play.

69th minute TRY. The Lions bag their second try after Conor Murray finds space around the ruck. Farrell converts, levelling the match at 21-21.

78th minute All Blacks hearts are broken as Charlie Faumuina gives away a penalty for tackling a man in the air. Farrell's subsequent penalty goal attempt is perfect, giving his side a 24-21 lead and second-Test victory.