Lions tour: Debatable red card the pivotal factor in brave All Black loss - Hansen

  • 02/07/2017

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says Sonny Bill Williams only has himself to blame for the sending off which overshadowed the All Blacks' momentous 24-21 loss to the British and Irish Lions.

The tourists stormed home on Saturday on the back of a one-man advantage for 55 minutes to level the series 1-1, sending it to a decider in Auckland next week.

Hansen was proud of how his team responded to the loss of the cross-code star, who was dismissed in the 25th minute for a reckless shoulder charge on Lions winger Anthony Watson.

The sending off was a turning point and the determined Lions went on to score the game's only two tries.

A penalty to Owen Farrell three minutes from time closed out the game, with the All Blacks only scoring from seven penalties to flyhalf Beauden Barrett.

The result ends a world record winning home record streak that stretched back 47 Tests since 2009 for the All Blacks.

Hansen said the dismissal of Williams by French referee Jerome Garces was debatable.

"It was one of those ones that could have been a yellow or a red, and he chose it as red," Hansen said.

"But there's no point whining about it. Sonny didn't use his arm so he put himself at risk."

Williams - the first All Black to be sent off in a Test for 50 years - is now in serious doubt for the decider at Eden Park, where they won the opener 30-15 last week.

Even after Williams was sent off, the scores will still locked 9-9 at halftime.

Lions coach Warren Gatland felt his side had stepped up physically and outplayed the All Blacks but admitted Williams' red card significantly aided that dominance.

He declined to gloat after the victory, given the All Blacks' tendency to come out after a Test loss and blow away their opponents.

"We know in the past, historically, what New Zealand teams are like when they lose - they respond," Gatland said.

"We know we're going to be in for an almighty battle at Eden Park next week but we've come out of tonight with some belief and confidence."

If the Lions win the third Test they will be the first victorious Lions team in New Zealand since 1971.