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It should have been a penalty - Ex Lions admit All Blacks were hard done by

By Harry West
Romain Poite /Getty

Former British and Irish Lions Martyn Williams and Matt Dawson both felt Romain Poite’s decision to downgrade a potentially series-winning penalty for New Zealand was the wrong one.


Owen Farrell had just brought the Lions level at 15-15 with less than two minutes remaining when, from the restart, Liam Williams knocked on in the direction of an offside Ken Owens, who caught and then released the ball as he realised his error.

Referee Poite initially awarded a penalty to the All Blacks in eminently kickable territory but touring captain Sam Warburton asked him to check with the TMO for accidental offside and, following consultation of the replays, the official changed his decision to a free-kick, to the chagrin of home skipper Kieran Read.

New Zealand could not score from the ensuing phases as the Lions held on for a draw, but Williams and Dawson both felt the wrong call had been made.

“It should have been a penalty to the All Blacks at the death. Romain Poite has done the Lions a huge favour there,” said Williams – twice a tourist with the Lions – on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Whether he’s bottled it, only he knows. You very rarely see a referee change his decision. We’ve got the rub of the green but it would have been so tough to see either of those teams lose tonight.

“We’ll be talking about this for about 100 years. It was an unbelievable Test match but if the All Blacks had had a goal kicker in the last two Tests, they would have won.”


“Ken Owens was in front of Liam Williams, he had plenty of time to skirt out the way and not touch the ball,” added Dawson, who was selected in three successive Lions parties between 1997 and 2005.

“He went to play the ball, then took his hands away. That was a sign he’d made a massive error, that was a penalty.”


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