Lions tour: British and Irish media react to third Test draw between the Lions and All Blacks

  • 09/07/2017

After the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions duelled to a scintillating stalemate at Eden Park, the prevalent reaction from media across the planet is that, contentious refereeing decision or not, this was one that the hosts should've closed out.

For the Lions, could this have been seen as a moral victory?

Tom Fordyce, BBC Sport

"To come back from there to share the spoils is a remarkable achievement, but there was a tangible sense of what might have been having come so close at the death.

"For all their obduracy, the Lions too will look back at chances not taken in a match left open for a hero to step forward.

"When Kaino was yellow-carded for a forearm to the face of Alun Wyn Jones on 49 minutes and the score at 12-9, the thousands of Lions supporters in the ground sensed that this might be their team's time.

"When the final whistle went there was almost a surreal atmosphere in the ground, a sense of anti-climax that was soon washed away by the realisation that this had been one of the great Lions matches."

Robert Kiston, The Guardian

"The British & Irish Lions have exceeded most expectations on this tour and did so again in a thrilling third Test. New Zealand’s proud unbeaten record in Auckland remains intact but the Lions have secured an honourable 1-1 draw in the series. If they could not quite emulate their 1971 predecessors, it will still go down as an extraordinary effort against all the odds.

"Neither side will be entirely satisfied but, overall, the series has been outstanding. This brutally compelling contest was again notable for the shuddering commitment of both teams and some nerveless goal-kicking from Owen Farrell, whose 77th-minute penalty from 48 metres ultimately earned the Lions their share of the spoils." 

Beauden Barrett takes on the line.
Beauden Barrett takes on the line. Photo credit: Getty

Mick Cleary, Daily Telegraph

"Brothers-in-arms, the Lions and the All Blacks simply could not be separated after a titanic battle, a match of drama and a drawn series of real heart and soul, an elemental contest that went right to the wire. It is the most unusual of results, unsatisfactory in some ways, but a tribute to the endeavours of all these players, a union of equals.  

"New Zealand were on a redemption mission. They played with the rage of the potentially damned. But they could not trump the spirit of their opponents.  

"This has been six weeks to savour whatever colours you have been wearing, the first drawn series since 1955 in South Africa when four Tests were played.  The two sets of warriors had slugged each other to a standstill.

"On such margins. It was magnificent, heart-stopping theatre. And for that we can all be grateful."

Gerry Thornley, The Irish Times

"The Americans would no doubt laugh at such an outcome. After 12 years of waiting, a tour of six weeks and 10 matches culminating an in an epic three-match test series, there was to be no winner. At the end, all 30 players looked utterly deflated, and most of the crowd reacted as if stunned, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

"History beckoned, but this was not quite the history which people had expected. An epic tour and series ended in high drama, if somewhat anti-climactically. 

"In truth, to match the All Blacks over three tests is arguably the mightier achievement, all the more so as they looked down and out after the first test and at times in this one. Their resilience, spirit, willingness to dig deep for each other, was remarkable.

"Regrets, both sides will have plenty, and perhaps the All Blacks more so. They had the better of a match which ebbed riotously, and created plenty of chances; making six line breaks to one. But a host of uncharacteristic fumbles saw them butcher a plethora of chances."

Sir Clive Woodward, Daily Mail

"What a wonderful compelling game and a memorable series of world-class Test rugby but equally what a strange ending, with both sides maybe thinking what might have been.

"Ultimately, New Zealand will be the more disappointed and it was fascinating to hear Kieran Read, when asked about the late penalty Romain Poite downgraded to a scrum, insist that was not the reason they lost. Of course New Zealand didn't lose, they drew, but in Read's mind it was a defeat.

"Of course you want to win playing dreamy, attacking rugby and scoring memorable tries but that moment had passed. With two or three minutes left it was all about getting the win and neither Beauden Barrett — who was so impressive in all other aspects of his game — or replacement TJ Perenara took control of the situation.

"It only needed New Zealand to play controlled sensible rugby for 30 seconds or so and the dropped-goal opportunity would have come. Instead, they went wide, which was much easier for the Lions to defend. Dropped goals do not seem to be part of their DNA."