Hurricanes come back to draw in thriller

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Lynn McConnell     27 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Both sides had their chances to win and the Hurricanes who were down 17-31 at one stage finished strongly. Had it not been for a neck roll ruled against one of the stars of the evening, second five-eighths Ngani Laumape, it may well have been a win.
But it was another indiscretion by another of the night's big performers Lions lock Iain Henderson that almost cost his side. He was sin-binned for a dangerous lift of Jordie Barrett, was reminiscent of the famous second Test incident which saw captain Brian O'Driscoll break his collarbone, resulted in a yellow card with 15 minutes remaining.

That resulted in a lineout in the Lions 22m and a storming run at the line by Laumape set up pick and goes before a long pass was flung to replacement wing Wes Goosen who scored easily to get back to seven points behind.

Five minutes later a Lions penalty conceded by centre George North allowed the Hurricanes to kick for another lineout and by employing Laumape on another charge they set up more drives for the pack and from a ruck beneath the cross bar, flanker Vaea Fifta drove over to score the equaliser.

Another of the impressive performers on the night, Lions first five-eighths Dan Biggar had the final say with a long range dropped goal which missed. Biggar possibly had the power in his kick knocked out of him when having to make several tackles of the hard-running Laumape who demonstrated why he had been called into the All Blacks squad.

All the talk before the game was that the Lions locks for the second Test were favoured to be Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje, but someone forgot to tell Henderson.

The big Irishman played an outstanding game in the tight-loose exchanges, following up high kicks and demonstrating impressive support skills to play a big part in giving the Lions momentum at key stages of the game. However, his indiscretion may have cost him in the end.

Stung by a raft of early penalties against them, the Hurricanes pushed hard to take their first real chance when in the Lions 22m but first five-eighths Otere Black pushed on with his pass in the face of the Lions rushing up.

He paid the price as Lions halfback Greig Laidlaw rushed in to take an intercept and head off downfield. The Lions cover of centre Vince Aso got him to ground but couldn't prevent him flicking the ball to wing Tommy Seymour who was untroubled to canter 35m to score.

However, the Hurricanes were uncowed and from a lineout Black took the ball to the line and slipped a pass to Laumape who raced into the Lions 22. The Hurricanes continued to build getting close to the line and forcing the Lions to clear to touch.

From the lineout the Hurricanes worked the ball left and after strong runs by lock Sam Lousi, who impressed throughout with strong work in the tackle to win mauls from standing tackles, No.8 Brad Shields and hooker Ricky Riccitelli all had pick and go runs at the line before Shields slipped the ball low to flanker Callum Gibbins who drove over the line to score.

The Hurricanes had a lucky break when a Lions ball was turned over in the Hurricanes 22m area. Gibbins secured the ball and in the subsequent play Barrett kicked downfield. Biggar slammed a high kick downfield where replacement fullback Leigh Halfpenny contested the kick.

Henderson, who had a superb first half, was hand to snap up the bouncing ball and slip it to wing George North with a clear run beneath the goalposts.

Down 7-23 at the break, the Hurricanes came out strongly and off the back of a strong charge downfield by Shields set up a chance for the home side which was taken when the ball was moved right for Aso to flick a reverse pass to Savea coming into the line from his left wing. He raced into space and fed Laumape on the right flank and he barged over in the corner with Barrett adding a superb conversion.

Laumape carried the Hurricanes back into the Lions 22m and won a penalty which saw Barrett reduce the deficit to six, but from the restart a chargedown of halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi's clearance kick was charged down allowing them to build and it was the halfback who commited a high tackle which resulted in him being sent to the sin-bin and the Lions wiping out the three points.

And when they were able to get the ball back downfield Hamilton was held up just short of the goal-line and from the scrum the ball was delivered to Seymour in the 55th minute to score out wide.

Scorers: Hurricanes 31 (Callum Gibbins, Ngane Laumape, Wes Goosen, Vaea Fifita tries; Jordie Barrett 4 con, pen) British & Irish Lions31 (Tommy Seymour 2, George North tries; Dan Biggar 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 7-23