It finished 30-15 in Eden Park this morning, as the All Blacks extended their 23-year unbeaten streak in Eden Park, beating an inspired but ultimately toothless Lions side. The All Blacks superior skill set showed, and the rugby-rabid New Zealand rugby press pack have been waxing ecstatic about the divine Rieko and imperious Kieran Reed in the aftermath. They also had some telling opinions about a few Irish players and divisive ref Jaco Peyper.
Mark Reason of Stuff praised the 'wondrous' All Blacks performance, especially in the context of the 'magnificent' first half from Conor Murray and Ben Te'o in the centre of the park..
The Lions were huge in a 30-15 first test loss at Eden Park. They nearly scored from the first move of the match. They made some massive spine-tingling hits in midfield where Conor Murray and Ben Te'o were colossal. And they ran in a try from the end of the earth, a score that no one in New Zealand said they were capable of, a dazzling try that reminded you of Jean-Luc Sadourny's in 1994, the last time the All Blacks lost in this ground.
Speaking of Irish players, the Stuff player ratings were effusive in their praise of Tadhg Furlong's performance, giving him a 7 while saying 'he's becoming the top tighthead in the world'. They also praised Peter O'Mahony for 'leading by example'.
Northern Hemisphere fans will have to be ready to pull their jaw from the off the ground after reading Liam Napier's assessment of referee Jaco Peyper.
Finally, a word for Jaco Peyper. He communicated with the players and officials brilliantly, and seemed in total control. Thankfully, there can be no major complaints about the referee.
Really? As usual, the All Blacks seemed to get every 50-50 call from the ref.
Look, they are better at everything, just brilliant, but if you're telling me New Zealand don't get every marginal call, you're delusional.
— Michael McCarthy (@McCarthyMick) June 24, 2017
— Dan (@dantweets258) June 24, 2017
Peyper allowing all sorts at the NZ clear out; diving off feet, neck rolls, players being taken out beyond ball. #NZLvBIL
— rugby (@theblitzdefence) June 24, 2017
O'Mahony and Murray hold a mini-conference with Peyper before heading for the sheds. Ref-mic was turned off, but Murray pointing at his knee
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) June 24, 2017
The Lions will head to Wellington with some hope after their performance in the game's first three quarters. Patrick McKendry in the New Zealand Herald praised the Lions fighting qualities, but opined that the series is all about over due to the massive gulf in skill between the teams.
So, another win for the All Blacks at Eden Park, their 39th in a row, and a massive blow to Gatland's hopes of winning the series. It's difficult to see them coming back from this. The gulf in class is that obvious.