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British and Irish Lions – story of the tour

Saturday’s draw in Auckland meant the Lions and All Blacks could not be separated.

RUGBY UNION 09/07/17 14:21
British and Irish Lions – story of the tour

The British and Irish Lions held back-to-back world champions New Zealand to a Test series draw in a hugely-impressive 2017 tour.

Here, Press Association Sport runs the rule over the six weeks spent battling the All Blacks by Warren Gatland’s squad.

Moment of the tour

Sean O’Brien finished one of the all-time great Lions tries, albeit en route to the 30-15 first Test defeat at Eden Park. The Lions might have lost that Test series opener, but they put the All Blacks firmly on alert with a score that will resonate across the ages. Liam Williams scythed clear from his own 22, thanks in no small measure from an astute and subtle blocking line from Ben Te’o. Jonathan Davies picked up the baton from Williams, before exchanging passes with Elliot Daly and then offloading the scoring pass to the lurking O’Brien. Some 80 metres from start to finish, to stun the All Blacks in their Auckland stronghold.

Star man – Jonathan Davies

The Wales centre excelled from start to finish, dismissing all his Lions rivals for the 13 shirt, and then making a fine statement across three top performances against the All Blacks. His two big hits on Jordie Barrett in the 15-15 drawn final Test showed everything about his industry and application, to add to no little talent.

Stat of the tour

The Lions only led the All Blacks for a total of three minutes across the entire three-Test series, but still managed to emerge with a one-all draw.

Three men to boost their reputations

Jamie George

The England hooker had never started a Test match until the Lions series, but excelled from the off in all three All Blacks encounters. The Saracens star will now be intent on heaping the pressure on England captain Dylan Hartley for the number two starting shirt in boss Eddie Jones’ side.

Kyle Sinckler

Kyle Sinckler during the tour match against the Highlanders
( David Davies/PA)

The Harlequins prop arrived on tour as perhaps the third-choice tighthead – and left as the clear understudy to Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong, who is now himself clearly the best number three in the northern hemisphere. Sinckler so often struggles to contain his latent fury and aggression. But if he can control his anger then he now has the chance to push himself to the front of England’s queue as Jones’ premier tighthead prop.

Ben Te’o

The Worcester centre was extremely hard done by to be dropped after a fine first Test showing where he completely shut down Sonny Bill Williams.

Three men to endure a testing tour

Robbie Henshaw

The Leinster centre was expected to thrive on Lions duty after stunning the All Blacks with a tub-thumping performance when Ireland dispatched New Zealand 40-29 in Chicago last November. But he was simply unable to push himself into Test contention. And then to add insult to his frustrations, Henshaw suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the 31-31 Hurricanes draw which ended his tour prematurely.

George North

 George North leaves the field after the tour match against the Highlanders
(David Davies/PA)

The Wales battering-ram wing was the standout star of the Lions’ 2013 series win in Australia. But four years on, the Northampton paceman struggled for any kind of form, despite being handed plenty of opportunities to impress. North then suffered a hamstring injury in the Hurricanes draw, and was ruled out of the remainder of the trip.

Jonathan Joseph

England’s fleet-footed outside centre was a late inclusion in the Lions squad, when boss Warren Gatland insisted he could not tour without the Bath star. The former London Irish midfielder simply failed to fire however, and was left trailing way behind Jonathan Davies in the race for the Test 13 shirt.

Dylan Hartley signs new contract with Northampton

Dylan Hartley signs new contract with Northampton

Dylan Hartley signs new contract with Northampton

Dylan Hartley signs new contract with Northampton

Dylan Hartley signs new contract with Northampton

Dylan Hartley signs new contract with Northampton

The 31-year-old replaces Tom Wood as captain.

The 31-year-old replaces Tom Wood as captain.

The 31-year-old replaces Tom Wood as captain.

The 31-year-old replaces Tom Wood as captain.

The 31-year-old replaces Tom Wood as captain.

The 31-year-old replaces Tom Wood as captain.

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