Sonny Bill Williams produced a moment of magic to allow the onrushing Ihaia West to race home for the winning try as Auckland Blues overcame the British and Irish Lions 22-16 at Eden Park.
Leigh Halfpenny’s third penalty of the match had edged the Lions 16-15 ahead in the 71st minute. Halfpenny earlier converted the tourists’ only try, scored by CJ Stander in the 18th minute.
But Williams’ late piece of brilliance helped get the hosts over the line, with try-scorer West adding the extras. Rieko Ioane had put Blues ahead with the opening try before Williams also touched down at the end of the first half, Stephen Perofeta converting. West added a penalty early in the second period.
STAR MAN: Sonny Bill Williams. Only the most special talents can win man-of-the-match awards in rugby for one moment’s magic. Lions take on Crusaders on Saturday.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
“Superb try from Blues to win the match - Lions far too many unforced penalties.” - two-time Lions tourist Brian Moore @brianmoore666).
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Sonny Bill Williams pounced on Steven Luatua’s offload to cut loose and do justice to Ihaia West’s excellent line by producing a smart scoring pass. In a flash, the Lions went from a one-point lead to a six-point loss.
THE HAKA HITS THE RIGHT NOTES
The Blues’ performance of a new haka, He Toa Takitini, The Strength of Many, paid homage to late former stars Jonah Lomu and Kurtis Haiu. The pomp and ceremony added another layer of intrigue to an already compelling Lions tour.
British and Irish Lions
LEIGH HALFPENNY 6/10
JACK NOWELL 4
JARED PAYNE 6
ROBBIE HENSHAW 5
ELLIOT DALY 5
DAN BIGGAR 6
RHYS WEBB 8
JACK MCGRATH 7
KEN OWENS 7
DAN COLE 6
MARO ITOJE 6
COURTNEY LAWES 7
JAMES HASKELL 5
JUSTIN TIPURIC 5
CJ STANDER 7
RORY BEST (for Owens, 68 mins) 5
JOE MARLER (for McGrath, 53 mins) 7
KYLE SINCKLER (for Cole, 54 mins) 6
IAIN HENDERSON (for Lawes, 75 mins) 6
PETER O’MAHONY (for Haskell, 53 mins) 6
GREIG LAIDLAW (for Webb, 74 mins) 6
JOHNNY SEXTON (for Biggar, 35 mins) 5
LIAM WILLIAMS (for Payne, 47 mins) 3