(AB)normal Service not yet resumed!

Nearly every New Zealander expected that the All Blacks would be so hurt by Wellington that they would bounce straight back and crush the Lions to take the series.

In the first 20 it looked like that might just happen – they butchered several scoring opportunities plus a straight forward shot at goal.

The Lions also had a chance to take the lead but were stopped firstly by stern defence and then with an interception.

Finally the ABs stopped dropping passes and scored a try with a combination of their new boys, Jordie Barrett and Ngani Laumupe. After a penalty from Owen Farrell the same two ABs helped themselves again to 5 points.

hero-lions-nz-ht

Somehow it was only 12-6 at halftime.

The Lions were never ahead in the 80 minutes and the longer it remained tight, the more nervous the All Blacks seemed to be.

Into the last 10 and it was 12-12 – another penalty and it looked like the ABs would take the series. But 2 minutes from time and Owen Farrell slotted another one – his 4th to add to Elliott Daly’s long range effort.

I’ve never known a stadium so quite at the final whistle – no one seemed to know whether to cheer or not.

The Lions may not have equalled the 71 team, but they can stand proud after drawing a series in which pretty much everyone had written them off.

Warren Gatland, the management and the players were magnificent and surprised the All Blacks as they improved week by week.

I don’t think Warren has become favourite for to succeed Hansen overnight, but the tour won’t have done his chances much harm. He will need to get a coaching job with one of the NZ Super Rugby franchises pretty soon though if he is to compete with Ian Foster.

It is hard to single out all the heroes of the night, so I’ve gone for one from each nation – Connor Murray, Jonathan Davies And Maro Itoje.

There is no doubt that the All Blacks remain the best team on the planet and are likely to win the Rugby Championship with something to spare – but the Springboks, Wallabies and Pumas will have seen that they are not invincible – even at home.

The record at Eden Park has been dented, albeit slightly and their winning run remains at zero.

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