All the best UK media reaction from the British and Irisn Lions' draw with the All Blacks last night at Eden Park:
The most intense battle
By Andy Bull of the Guardian
"When Poite blew his whistle for the final time, no one cheered, no one smiled, no one jumped. After three Tests, 240 minutes of the most intense rugby, the teams had played each other to a standstill. The players froze, as if time had stopped along with the clock. They could have been playing grandmother's footsteps, if only they were not all so battered and bruised.
"When the game was done, and Warburton and Read had finished with the trophy, they called their teams in to join them on the podium. Kaino had the idea that they should all mix in with each other for the photos. So they gathered, red and black all muddled together, 46 men who had given everything and then more again, only to find, in the end, that there was nothing between them. Not even a single point."
Moral victory for Lions
By Robert Kitson of the Guardian:
"Those with slightly mixed emotions at the end of a drawn series should rewind to the beginning. Had the British & Irish Lions been offered this outcome in May, they would have bitten off your hand somewhere near the elbow. Finishing on level terms with the double world champions on the planet's most hostile rugby terrain, with scant preparation time and a ridiculously tough schedule, will increasingly feel like a moral victory the longer they reflect on it.
"If, ultimately, they could not quite emulate the achievement of their 1971 predecessors, they will be remembered as a team who overcame considerable odds and earned respect from their hosts. Perhaps even more significantly, the image of rugby worldwide has also been enhanced. It might have been a little odd to see the respective captains, Sam Warburton and Kieran Read, with one hand apiece on the trophy but not even a million flying champagne corks could have bettered the wonderful sporting image of their teams happily posing for a shared photo afterwards."
The greatest stalemate in history:
By Paul Hayward of the Telegraph
"People complain when a five-day cricket match ends in a draw. This one took six weeks. But it might be remembered as the greatest stalemate in history - for the effort the Lions made, the drama the games generated and the daunting odds Warren Gatland's men overcame.
"Sam Warburton held one handle of the trophy, Kieran Read gripped the other. The Lions captain gave it a playful tug, as if to take sole ownership. The All Black leader tried to find it funny.
"Two mighty players were on unchartered ground. Neither knew how to make sense of a six-week series ending in a draw - the first since 1955 - with no-one cheering and everyone dissatisfied. But when those feelings clear, the Lions should go home as giants."
Ref should have avoided controversy:
By Jonathan Kaplan
"Romain Poite's decision not to award a penalty to New Zealand with 90 seconds remaining in the third Test will split opinion.
"To my mind there were three elements to the decision. The first was whether Kieran Read's challenge in the air on Liam Williams was legal, and if a penalty should have been awarded to the Lions. Then there was the question of whether Ken Owens deliberately played the ball before dropping it, and finally the issue of Romain awarding only a scrum to the All Blacks after seeming to agree with his TMO, George Ayoub, that the original decision to award a penalty to New Zealand was correct.
"On the first question I disagree with the outcome that Romain and George reached in deciding that Read's challenge was legal. I would argue that Williams had already taken the space in the air and that Read could not win possession from where he was, even with an outstretched arm.
"In fact, Read's bump on Williams caused the fumble and everything afterwards. If Romain had picked up on this and awarded the Lions a penalty it would have avoided all the controversy that followed, which is what I would have done."
Lions do jersey proud:
By Oliver Holt for the Daily Mail
"....And they did it. They gave it everything. They played as if there really was no tomorrow. As the All Blacks pummelled them, somehow, through sheer bloody-mindedness, a refusal to give in and some uncharacteristically poor handling from the world champions, the Lions hung in there.
"When the end came, the 15-15 draw felt like an anti-climax but that won't last. Because in this case, a drawn series against the best team in the world in New Zealand, where most of their unbeaten records are counted not in years but in decades, represents a Herculean achievement from a team that was only assembled six weeks ago and which represented a concept fighting for its very survival.
"These are men who have epitomised the spirit of the Lions by defying the odds. It is easy to forget now but these players were given no chance when they left for New Zealand six weeks ago. The majority predicted a 3-0 whitewash for the All Blacks. Gatland was warned to brace himself for the abuse that would be heaped upon him."