Draw a bit of an anticlimax – Warburton

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Warburton returned from an ankle injury to captain the second and third Tests in New Zealand

The British and Irish Lions left Eden Park with a mixture of frustration and pride after becoming only the second Lions side to draw a Test series.

Owen Farrell slotted a late penalty to level the scores at 15-15 and share the three-Test series with New Zealand.

Lions captain Sam Warburton said Saturday’s draw was “a bit of an anticlimax for the players”.

But head coach Warren Gatland said: “It is a great achievement coming here and drawing the series.”

Having been outplayed in the first Test before securing a memorable victory in the second, the Lions were chasing only their second series win in New Zealand.

But neither side could find a knockout blow in Auckland and Farrell’s late kick, plus referee Romain Poite’s much-debated decision to change his mind and award a scrum rather than a penalty to New Zealand a minute later, meant captains Kieran Read and Sam Warburton lifted the trophy together.

“I don’t think we played that brilliantly tonight but I think it is a fair result in the end,” Gatland added.

“I’m really proud of the boys, no-one gave us a hope in hell at the start. They should be really proud of what they have achieved.

Lions skipper Warburton joked he was “getting ready for extra time” but a draw was “better than losing”.

“Both teams are going to be gutted they didn’t take a series win,” he added. “I guess it’s a little bit of an anticlimax from the players’ point of view.”

Poite’s penalty decision

Kieran Read discusses the penalty decision with referee Romain Poite

New Zealand, who had not lost at Eden Park since 1994, had a chance after Farrell’s late leveller to win the match and take the series.

The All Blacks were initially awarded a penalty by Romain Poite from the re-start when replacement hooker Ken Owens caught the ball in an offside position, but the French official then reviewed it and called it instead as an accidental offside.

“We all know what happened and we all know probably what should have happened,” Hansen said of Poite’s decision.

“We’re accepting of whatever decisions were made and whether we agree with them or not it’s something we’ll do our talking to the referees about.”

Gatland, meanwhile, believed the penalty should have been given to the Lions.

“I thought it was a penalty to us, Kieran Read jumped in and he’s hit the player [Liam Williams] in the air,” he said.

“[Warburton] has been quite smart and astute in being able to talk the referee from a penalty into an accidental offside.”

‘A bit like kissing your sister’ – Hansen

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen said he felt “hollow” after Saturday’s game and described the draw as “a bit like kissing your sister and no-one wants that”.

But the 58-year-old added that “maybe a drawn series was fair”.

“It’s not a World Cup final, so if you’re good enough to get a draw then maybe it’s right that both teams get recognised,” he said.

All Blacks skipper Read, playing his 100th Test for New Zealand, said he did not know what to feel.

“To walk away with a draw doesn’t mean much,” he said. “In the future I will look back at this with pride.

“Maybe it’s the right result for the series. Both teams played well in patches and tonight we just couldn’t be split.”

Lions 2017: Warren Gatland clown nose response to cartoon

Gatland entered his post-match news conference wearing a red nose – a little jibe at the New Zealand press who have mocked and criticised the Hamilton-born coach throughout the tour.

The 53-year-old had the last laugh as he is now undefeated on two Lions tours.

Gatland will now return to his role as Wales head coach and turn his attention to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Lions tour fixtures
3 June Provincial Barbarians Won 13-7
7 June Blues Lost 22-16
10 June Crusaders Won 12-3
13 June Highlanders Lost 23-22
17 June Maori All Blacks Won 32-10
20 June Chiefs Won 34-6
24 June New Zealand Lost 30-15
27 June Hurricanes Drew 31-31
1 July New Zealand Won 24-21
8 July New Zealand Drew 15-15

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