Assistant referee Jerome Garces is the man who convinced Romain Poite to change his decision on the penalty in the final minutes which could have won the test and the series for the All Blacks.

Lions captain Sam Warburton has taken the credit for saying Ken Owens' handling the ball in an offside position at Eden Park was accidental rather than deliberate, but a private conversation between Garces and countryman Poite, possibly in French, was the "deal-maker", a deliberate term as the following exchange proves.

The drama happened from Beauden Barrett's re-start following Owen Farrell's penalty which drew the Lions level at 15-15.

It played out as follows, the conversations between players and officials (apart from Garces') clearly audible on Poite's microphone.


77min 54secs: Barrett restarts with a contestable kick to Lions fullback Liam Williams, who knocks it forward and into the arms of Owens under pressure from a leaping Kieran Read.

Realising what he has done, Owens drops the ball immediately and it is picked up by Anton Lienert-Brown, but Poite blows his whistle for a penalty to the All Blacks about 30m and out and near in front of the posts.

Romain Poite: "Playing in an offside position, 16."

Poite then moves to Jaco Peyper, his nearest assistant referee.

RP to JP: "The red [player] touched the ball and 16 got the ball in front."

Poite asks television match official George Ayoub to check the challenge of Read on Williams.

George Ayoub: "Romain, they are all the angles."

RP: "Are you happy for the knock-on? Is the challenge in the air fair? And a penalty kick against 16 red for being in front?"


GA: "Yes I am."

After having made up his mind to stick with a penalty for the All Blacks, Poite leaves Peyper but Jerome Garces then gets involved.

RP: "Oui, Jerome."

Poite walks back to Read and Warburton, who are waiting for the decision which will alter the course of the test and the series.

RP: "We have a deal, we have a deal for the offside from 16. He didn't play deliberately at the ball, okay? It was an accidental offside."

Kieran Read: "No, no, no, no, no."

RP: "It was an accidental offside, we go for a scrum, black.

KR: "Romain, Romain, in the rules there is no accidental offside. If you run into your own man..."

RP: "The ball touch him..."

KR: "He caught the ball..."

RP: "We play, okay?"