Reaction - New Zealand 21 Lions 24: Tourists level series in Wellington thriller

British and Irish Lions' Conor Murray dives in to score his sides second try during the second test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. (Picture: PA)
British and Irish Lions' Conor Murray dives in to score his sides second try during the second test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Westpac Stadium, Wellington. (Picture: PA)
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Captain Sam Warburton says the British and Irish Lions’ victory over New Zealand in Wellington will count for nothing unless they win the Test series decider next week.

Owen Farrell’s 78th-minute penalty proved decisive as the Lions took advantage of Sonny Bill Williams’ first-half red card - the first All Black to be sent off since 1967 - to claim a 24-21 victory in the second Test.

British and Irish Lions' Owen Farrell applauds the fans after the second test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.

British and Irish Lions' Owen Farrell applauds the fans after the second test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Westpac Stadium, Wellington.

The tourists condemned New Zealand to their first home defeat since 2009, but Warburton downplayed their victory and immediately turned attention to the game at Eden Park next Saturday.

“It is only half the job done,” the Welshman told Sky Sports.

“I will be happy next week when we bring the Test series home. It is one apiece now so effectively we have only played two halves.

“We have got to win the Test series. It is great that we got it to 1-1 and take it to Eden Park. There is still plenty to work on, we gave away way too many penalties in the second half.

“We are delighted to get a win, but we have got to remember it was against 14 men. We have got to up it next week to bring the Test series home.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen refused to be drawn into whether Williams deserved a red card for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson in the 25th minute.

“I’m not stunned. I have always said they are a very good side and we didn’t help ourselves by losing a player,” Hansen said.

“Whilst I am very proud of our team of how we hung in there with 14 men, you have got to take your hat off and say well done to the Lions.

“He (the referee) made the call so whether he got it right or wrong is irrelevant. I have always said you have got to go with what he decides.

“Don’t make the issue about the tackle. The Lions deserved the win. Happy for them but we are disappointed. I am very proud of our guys.”

New Zealand skipper Kieran Read admitted his side failed to take their chances after letting a 19-12 lead slip in the final 20 minutes.

“The Lions were probably the better side,” he said.

“What an atmosphere. We had our chances. The fact that we got in front and couldn’t keep that lead probably showed that we let them off the hook.”

Williams was sent off as the British and Irish Lions claimed a thrilling Test series-levelling 24-21 victory over world champions New Zealand at Westpac Stadium.

Williams, one of the biggest names in world rugby, received his marching orders from French referee Jerome Garces after just 25 minutes of a titanic tussle for a dangerous shoulder charge to the head of Lions wing Anthony Watson.

He was the first All Blacks player to be sent off in a Test match since Colin Meads against Scotland 50 years ago, only the third All Black of all-time and first in New Zealand, and the home side were eventually floored by a 77th-minute Owen Farrell penalty to set up a series decider in Auckland next Saturday.

It was New Zealand’s first home defeat since South Africa beat them in 2009, and their first against the Lions for 24 years.

Despite their one-man advantage, though, the Lions were almost made to pay for poor discipline, with All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett kicking seven penalties from 10 attempts, but second-half tries by number eight Taulupe Faletau and scrum-half Conor Murray - plus 14 points from Farrell - saw them home.

Lions prop Mako Vunipola was sin-binned for a poor challenge on Barrett during the third quarter, and at one stage, the Lions conceded five kickable penalties during a 14-minute spell.

New Zealand’s 46-Test unbeaten record on home soil was eventually ended by the Lions amid wild scenes of celebration from their travelling fans.