Lions tour: 'Red-shirted heroes' yet to see the All Blacks' best - UK media
The British media are crowing the "the stone has been rolled back" after the Lions' second test victory but marvelled at the All Blacks' resilience.
Veteran scribe Mick Cleary said in the Daily Telegraph that the Lions had "come back from the seeming dead. History has been made. The series is still alive. What a night for red-shirted heroes".
"History is not easily conquered but the Lions managed it, saving not just this series but also the credibility of future Lions tours. Those that oppose such trips, who seek to diminish the concept by reducing the length of the tour, should have been in Wellington."
However, Gerard Meagher warned in The Guardian that the Lions were yet to see the All Blacks "fully spread their wings".
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He marvelled at the way the All Blacks had been able to play with 14 men.
"How they are able to do it is the million-dollar question but there is no single answer to what makes New Zealand the best team in the world. A superior level of skill, honed since childhood, is key, as is the unique blend of Pacific island and Anglo-Saxon sporting cultures. So too, their bulletproof self-belief - it was not so much a surprise that Aaron Cruden looked for Rieko Ioane with an ambitious cross-field kick in New Zealand's last attack, rather that he missed. And it is that belief that makes improvements in Auckland inevitable."
How Hansen and his coaches go about making improvements is less clear. It is a delicious irony of this test series that the Lions are catching the eye with the tries they are scoring while New Zealand get the upper hand at the scrum.
UK tabloid the Sun published their news about the match under the headline Clown Jewels, with Lions coach Warren Gatland pictured throwing a pie in the face of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
New Zealand's most dangerous weapon was the debutant Ngani Laumape - a wrecking ball of a No 12 continually crashing over the gainline in a manner synonymous with Warrenball. Laumape may not start on Saturday if Ryan Crotty is deemed fit enough to return but, as much as Hansen likes the Crusader, he is a bold selector, as shown with Ioane's breakthrough this series.
"Two tests down and we are yet to see New Zealand fully spread their wings, however. It may be that on Saturday we do, or perhaps the flogging they receive at the hands of their own press means moving up another gear in terms of physicality. Either way, while it may not be clear exactly how, the Lions know what is coming."
Daily Telegraph columnist Paul Hayward said the Wellington win was a personal triumph for Lions coach Warren Gatland, who had been ridiculed in his New Zealand homeland.
"After the first two games the Lions were being called "pathetic" and "incompetent" by the locals. By the time the second test approached Warren Gatland was wearing a clown's nose and the whole future of the Lions was in doubt. That can all be binned, because everyone is heading back to Auckland now to settle the argument after a crazy night in Wellington.
"Through sheer willpower and persistence - and two fine tries - the Lions cracked the long tradition of All Black impregnability on these islands. They put themselves within reach of a first series win in New Zealand since 1971. They made the enemies of the Lions 'concept' look small and mean. And they sent their travelling swarm of supporters into raptures on a cold, greasy night. And at the heart of it all was Agent Gatland, a Kiwi whose family still live in Hamilton, and have to endure plenty of rancid comment about the Lions coach on their social media feeds."
Gavin Cummiskey from the Irish Times lambasted Sonny Bill Williams' red card-inducing shoulder charge, saying the All Black midfielder was "a Rugby League skin at heart". "The high shot is part of his DNA."
Cummiskey roasted assistant-referee Jaco Peyper for his comments to referee Jerome Garces before the red card.
"Loves a high tackle does Jaco. The South African referee has previous; he felt Sam Cane's near-decapitation of Robbie Henshaw only merited an Ireland penalty while yellow sufficed for Malakai Fekitoa's swinging forearm on Simon Zebo in Dublin last November. Here, he felt compelled to plant doubt in Jerome Garces mind after SBW's ridiculously irresponsible shoulder charge that compressed Watson's head into his neck. Garces had another look in slow motion and would have been forgiven for inquiring if Peyper has a holiday home in the Queenstown hills."
But Cummiskey said Lions prop Mako Vunipola was lucky not to see red too.
"A headless prop can cost you the series. Mako Vunipola was warned by Garces on 52 minutes to "be careful" after his late tackle on Beauden Barrett. Seconds later he had to walk for dropping his arm into Barrett, again, off the ball, while the outhalf sat on the wrong side of the ruck. Garces edged towards a penalty but the crowd, the TMO, the big screen meant a yellow was inevitable."