New Zealand 21-24 Lions: Lions level test series 1-1 in Wellington epic

Owen Farrell kicked a late decisive penalty, as the tourists took advantage of Sonny Bill Williams' sending off, in the second test at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.

New Zealand 21-24 Lions: Lions level test series 1-1 in Wellington epic
Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Getty Images
New Zealand
21 24
Lions
New Zealand: I Dagg; W Naholo, A Lienert-Brown, S B Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (capt).
Lions: L Williams (Wales); A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), O Farrell (England), E Daly (England); J Sexton (Ireland), C Murray (Ireland); M Vunipola (England), J George (England), T Furlong (Ireland), M Itoje (England), A W Jones (Wales), S Warburton (Wales, capt), S O'Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).
SCORE: Barrett pens x 7; Faletau try, Murray try, Farrell (con x 2), pens x 4
REFEREE: Jerome Garces (FRA)
INCIDENTS: Second Test between New Zealand and the British and Irish Lions at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand.

The British and Irish Lions staged a stunning late fightback in the second Test versus New Zealand, as tries from Conor Murray and Toby Faletau finally drove home their man advantage in an epic encounter at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Following All Black centre Sonny Bill Williams' sending off mid-way through the first half for a shoulder tackle on Anthony Watson, Warren Gatland's charges fought through indiscipline to come out on top at the Cake Tin.

Owen Farrell's fourth and decisive penalty kick tipped the final balance in the tourists' favour, as a third and decisive game awaits in a weeks time back at Eden Park in Auckland.

Sonny Bill sending off

After an open ten minutes that was dominated by the tempo of a roaring Lions pack, the tourists had up to then failed to capitalise on their dominance.   

Then came the moment which would go on to determine the outcome of the night's play. All Black chief enforcer and regular fixture for many a year, Sonny Bill Williams was penalised for a shoulder tackle into the head of Anthony Watson.

Referee Jerome Garces was immediately brought into action and following discussion with the TMO official, the centre was shown the red card - the first test dismissal for the Kiwis in 50 years.

With the Lions a man up for the remaining 55 minutes, the door and swung open. Despite a super carry and gain-line wins percentage, mistakes were still in evidence, as indiscipline crept in allowing the boot of Beauden Barrett to eke open a lead for the hosts.

Lion Indiscipline rife

After the sides went into the break at 9-9, the Lions prowled back onto a wet field in the nation's capital, intent of asserting their man advantage. However just as in the first half, errors littered the tourists' play at the breakdown.  

In no time Barrett had opened up a six point lead for Steve Hansen's side, but having missed two kicks of his own, could the fly-half's wayward judgement yet prove crucial?

Vunipola binned; Lions roar

When Mako Vunipola was sin-binned after a string of illegal tackles, that looked academic with the hosts leading 18-9. It was the All Blacks themselves who looked to put the test and series to bed as the terrior-like Ngani Laumape - who starred for the Hurricanes in midweek - came on for his first cap.

As the clock ticked down, the fatigue in the New Zealand pack began to take its toll. On the counter attack, Maro Itoje was finally beginning to find some give at the breakdown. Anthony Watson found a rare opening to race away on the right flank and after a being held off, to a man, the play was switched to Elliot Daly. His handoff allowed Toby Faletau to run in to the corner, as the Welsh back-rower bulldozed into the corner to reduce the scores to just seven points.

With the momentum swinging back to the men in red, the Lions poured forward. At the line-out Jamie George was brought down at the 22 metre line, and with with legs weary, Conor Murray eventually dived in across the whitewash. Owen Farrell successfully converted to level the scores up with ten minutes to play.

Farrell holds nerve

With the tide firmly in Lions favour, one more pivotal score would likely take the win. Conscious of their sloppy errors earlier in proceedings, Gatland's men this time gained the vital territory and after an air block from the Kiwi pack, Farrell was presented with a chance to seal a famous win.

40 metres out, the Saracens fly coolly slotted between the posts as the Lions took the lead for the first time on a tempestuous night in Wellington. The tourists where desperate then for the final whistle and after the All Black play broke down, the ball was sent long down the opposite end of the field, where Jonathan Sexton kicked clear from a scrum for the precious win.

With the scores at 1-1, all eyes now turn the final and decisive game of the tour back in Auckland. Eden Park in set for another titanic encounter, but with New Zealand missing Sonny Bill Williams, can the British and Lions seize a moment in history in seven days time? 


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