British & Irish Lions: Five talking points from the draw against Wellington Hurricanes

Paul Radley offers his thoughts from the 31-31 draw as Warren Gatland's side prepare to face the All Blacks in the second Test.

The British & Irish Lions played out a 31-31 draw with Wellington Hurricanes on Tuesday. Mark Tantrum / Getty Images
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The final midweek match of the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand finished in a thrilling 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

The touring side squandered the chance of victory after throwing away a 14-point lead, and there are still more questions than answers ahead of Saturday’s second Test.

Lawes v Henderson

It was clear by the fact Courtney Lawes was withdrawn from the fray on 54 minutes that he will likely be part of the Test squad for Saturday, perhaps even a starter.

Whether the Lions picked the right lock-come-blindside flanker to rest at that specific moment is a moot point, though.

Lawes has been superb on tour so far, but he was overshadowed by his second row partner Iain Henderson in New Zealand's capital.

The Irishman was everywhere, blocking kicks, powering over the gain-line, and exhibiting the sleight of hand of a back to set up George North for a try under the posts.

And if the management were not going to give him a break, he decided to give himself 10 minutes off, anyway …

Dangerous play

The commentators were strong on the fact Henderson should be sent from the field when he teamed up with Jonathan Joseph to tip Jordie Barrett over at a ruck.

It was dangerous play, the only debate was whether the card be a red one or yellow.

Nice to hear all agree that offence is punishable in severe terms these days. That has not always been the case on Lions tours to this part of the world.

“I didn’t want to mention it,” the commentator said when it was mentioned that Henderson on Barrett was reminiscent of a particular incident in 2005.

None of Brian O’Driscoll, Tana Umaga or Keven Mealamu got a name check, but the inference was obvious.

Scots can play rugby

As the debate over who should be picked and where has grown increasingly frenzied on this tour, the Scottish voice has become even more diluted.

The Scots have barely warranted a mention, but they were well represented against the Hurricanes, especially via one eye-catching try.

Greig Laidlaw started it with an interception out wide near the Lions try-line. The scrum half popped a perfect offload for Tommy Seymour, his compatriot, to run in the score.

Maybe it was not quite as flash as Sean O’Brien’s try for the ages in the first Test, but it was a second try in the space of four days from their own 22 for the Lions.

“Geography Six”

What cost the Lions what would have been a morale-boosting win? Henderson’s untimely yellow card? Hurricanes excellence?

Or the fact the Lions were flagging, with an unusually low count of substitutions being made?

George Kruis and Leigh Halfpenny were the only two replacements who spent any significant amount of time on the field.

The players left on the bench were the so-called “Geography Six”, the raft of late arrivals controversially selected because of their proximity to New Zealand rather than merit.

So Gatland did fly them in over the likes of Joe Launchbury, Dylan Hartley and Cian Healey just to hold the tackle bags at training, then.

Severe Savea

The Lions were not the only ones looking to make late bids for Test selection. Julian Savea was released by the All Blacks to play for the Hurricanes in this game.

He probably needed a stand-out display to displace Rieko Ioane, his young replacement on the left wing who scored two tries against the Lions on Saturday, in the New Zealand line up.

His effort probably fell some way short of that. When he first got his hands on the ball, he was stopped quickly by Lions fullback Jack Nowell.

He was conspicuous later for dropping a high ball, but he did play a key role in Ngani Laumape’s try.