Lions tour: Warren Gatland content with draw and controversial refereeing decision
British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says the last-minute ruling that earned his team a drawn third Test and series against the All Blacks was a fair one.
Gatland was thrilled to square the series 1-1 following Saturday's 15-15 deadlock at Eden Park, given the scale of the challenge his team faced.
The outcome in effect came down to a 79th-minute ruling from French referee Romain Poite, who changed his initial penalty ruling to the All Blacks - in a kickable position - into a scrum.
The incident, which created heated post-Test conjecture, came just after the Lions had levelled the scores with a fifth penalty.
Captain Kieran Read contested the subsequent kick-off, which was knocked on by Lions fullback Liam Williams, straight to his teammate Ken Owens.
Poite ruled reserve hooker Owens was offside but agreed to review the decision after a plea from Lions skipper Sam Warburton.
Gatland said the decision to rule it as accidentally offside was correct but he also believed Poite should have gone even further and penalised Read for disrupting Williams in the air.
"I don't think (Read) has got any chance of getting his hand on that," he said.
"I thought it was a penalty to us
"We would have been devastated as a group if we had have lost the game from that kick-off."
Gatland described Warburton's questioning of Poite as "smart and astute", while the skipper said his chances of getting the referee's agreement was helped by not having questioned many earlier rulings.
Gatland says some of Poite's late-game decisions against his team had been questionable.
"It's swings and roundabouts. I thought the result was probably a fair reflection on two quality sides that really went hard at each other."
"You get calls that go for you, and calls that go against you.
"I thought the result was probably a fair reflection of where the tour was and two teams that really went hard at each other tonight."
Gatland was the happier of the two coaches, even though he felt his team could have played better.
The Test, he said, was dominated by defence and dotted with mistakes.
"Given the schedule, given how tough the tour was, to come to New Zealand and draw the series, you've got to be pretty proud of that," he said.
"A win would have been nice, but for us to come here against the back-to-back world champions and draw the series, I think is an unbelievable achievement."
Newshub / NZN