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Lions Winners And Losers From Victory Against The All Blacks

PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Mako Vunipola

When Jerome Garces showed Vunipola a yellow card after 56 minutes, he was nearly doing Warren Gatland a favour. The England loosehead really should have been substituted prior to the moment of rashness which saw him hit Beauden Barrett with a no arm tackle.

He was becoming a real liability in a Lions side which was having problems with discipline. If the French referee had shown Vunipola a red card rather than yellow, it may have been viewed as harsh but also justifiable. That was the fourth penalty of the game for which Vunipola had been directly responsible.

Though he had moments in the game where he carried well, his indiscipline, which gifted the All Blacks points, will likely be looked on harshly by Gatland.

Ben Te'o

The best Lions player on tour prior to Saturday didn't even see time off the bench in Wellington. Te'o's direct running, line breaks and tackling ability had been a highlight for the Lions in New Zealand. Even in defeat to the All Blacks in Auckland, he was one of their best players.

However, the first Test did see the New Zealand-born back only make two passes. There were moments where Te'o decided to run when a pass would have been the better option.


It was the Lions' ability to move the ball wide which eventually made the difference on Saturday. For Te'o's chances of seeing game time next weekend, that does not bode well.



Sexton and Farrell combo

The selection of Sexton and Farrell together, what was viewed by some during the week as a gamble by Warren Gatland, paid off for the Lions head coach on Saturday.


Both combined well, especially for the move which led to Toby Faletau's try. A wraparound between the out-half and inside centre eventually led to Anthony Watson finding space on the wing. From the resulting ruck, the ball went through the hands of both Sexton and Farrell as it found its way to Liam Williams and then the number eight who ran over Israel Dagg before touching down in the corner.

Surprisingly, it was the Lions ability to score tries which won them the game. Sexton and Farrell combining well was a key part of that.

Jack McGrath


One change looks likely when Warren Gatland names his team for the third Test.

Given that there was very little between them in the warm-up games and Mako Vunipola's near-disastrous performance in the second Test, Jack McGrath will surely come into the starting line-up for Eden Park.

McGrath has done little wrong when given an opportunity by Gatland. Coming off the bench on Saturday, he certainly made an impact. He should have had more than the 15 minutes to which he was restricted by Gatland's indecision and Vunipola's yellow card.


Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

See Also: The Unforgiving New Zealand Media Reaction As The Lions Beat The All Blacks


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