Farrell miss costly as Lions suffer second defeat at Highlanders


A missed Owen Farrell penalty proved costly as the British and Irish Lions suffered their second defeat of the tour to New Zealand, beaten 23-22 in a thrilling clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Brought on as a replacement for Dan Biggar with 12 minutes to play and the Lions leading 22-20, Farrell's first act was to send a kick to the left of the posts.

A subsequent huge scrum from the Highlanders saw them win a penalty that gave Marty Banks the chance to edge the Super Rugby outfit in front, knocking over a perfect kick.

The Lions pressed for the match-winning score but a mammoth Elliot Daly penalty attempt fell just short and Jonathan Joseph spilled the ball forward from a Farrell pass to halt a desperate last attack.

Lima Sopoaga was stopped just short of the line as the Highlanders made a bright start to the match and, while the hosts continued to probe, they were unable to make the most of numbers on the opposite wing soon after.

The Highlanders emerged from that period of pressure with three points thanks to a Sopoaga penalty, before the Lions had two potential tries ruled out by the TMO - Rhys Webb and Tommy Seymour rightly denied by the replays.

Biggar pulled the tourists level from the tee but they were soon on the back foot once more.

The Highlanders were playing the game at a relentless pace and Waisake Naholo showed tremendous power to score the game's first try, bursting through the challenges of Jared Payne and Courtney Lawes to touch down.

Lawes took a match-ending blow to the head from the flying All Blacks wing on his way through, while Robbie Henshaw had appeals for obstruction against Alex Ainley ignored.

The Lions' response was swift and, after good work by Biggar in the build-up, Jonathan Joseph exploited a route to the in-goal area.

Tied at 10-10 at half-time, the Lions started to pull away early in the second period as Seymour intercepted a Sopoaga cross-field kick to race clear for the line.

A Sam Warburton pick and go under the posts stretched the advantage yet further, before Liam Coltman emerged from a driving maul to help the Highlanders back into the match at 22-20.

Biggar - along with Lawes and Webb - looked to be carrying an injury as he limped from the field, and replacement Farrell's wayward first attempt left the Lions prone.

Banks had no such problem after the Lions were completely overpowered in the scrum and it proved to be the decisive score, as two late chances for the tourists to salvage a result went begging.