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“Ties in sports,” as TC, the rugby sage of Hawaii once said, “is like kissing your sister.”
That “kiss” occurred in the third British and Irish Lions contest against New Zealand, which ended in a 15-15 tie. It also meant a draw for the three-game tour, the first one since the Lions visited South Africa in 1955.
For these Lions, for their maligned coach Warren Gatland, and for their northern hemisphere fans, the draw will be considered a pyrrhic victory. The underdog, hastily put together all-stars from Ireland and the three Home Countries tied the world champion All Blacks 1-1-1. The draw occurred in the third game, played in Eden Park Stadium, the heart and soul of Kiwi rugby where the home side had not lost a Test match since 1994.
Throughout the game, the All Blacks were more daring, and more intimidating, achieving a 12-6 lead at half time from two tries. But the Lions, off the sure foot of Own Farrell, came back in the second half to even the score at 15-15, totaling five penalties. (Farrell 4, and Daly 1)
With two-minutes left, a contentious knock on call against the Lions was ruled accidental after a TMO ruling, stifling a last minute, short penalty attempt by the All Blacks.
The Lions finished 5-3-2. But the most important take away is the “kiss” against the All Blacks, a sweet memory to savor for 12 years until the next Lions tour returns in 2029.
Important number for this tour: 20,000 Lions's fans journeyed to New Zealand to see the team play.
W 13-7 vs. Barbarians
L 16-22 vs. Blues
W 12-3 vs. Crusaders
L 22-23 vs. Highlanders
W 32-10 vs. Maori All Blacks
W 34-6 vs. Chiefs
L 15-30 vs. New Zealand
T 31-31 vs. Hurricanes
W 24-21 vs. New Zealand
T 15-15 vs. New Zealand