Rob Henderson: On the pitch and in the stands, British and Irish Lions players and supporters got it right in second Test win against All Blacks

 
Rob Henderson
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Lions fans sang Maro Itoje's name in recognition of the lock's performance (Source: Getty)

On Saturday night in a wet and windy Westpac Stadium both players and fans showed exactly what it means to represent and support the British and Irish Lions.

On the field, from one to 15, no quarter was given defensively and with ball in hand they showed exceptional skills and running lines in torrential conditions.

From Jonathan Davies’ one-hand offloads to the well constructed tries for Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray, the Lions showed adventure and bravery to fight back and ultimately win the second Test, taking the series to Auckland for the decider in this weekend.

The All Blacks played their part too, especially having to navigate two thirds of the match with 14 men, after the red-carding of Sonny Bill Williams, and it would be remiss not to mention how well they played to nearly snatch victory.

But it was off the field that truly took my breath away.

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Last week I wrote about a perceived solemnity in the stands. This week I can do no more than salute and applaud every single Lions fan for creating an electrifying atmosphere even in the midst of biblical weather conditions.

Not even Moses himself could have parted the sea of red which enveloped the stadium and the cacophony of sound which rang around the Cake Tin from the first to last minute had the hairs on the back of my neck standing in unison throughout.

During the incessant deluge, the ponchoed pride took the All Blacks’ rallying call to heart and whenever Tutira Mai was piped around the arena a resounding “Lions, Lions” was the riposte. Whoever came up that bit of genius from the NZRFU will surely have been a little red-faced on Sunday morning.

Hymns and Arias and The Fields Of Athenry were unveiled but pride of place had to go to the White Stripes song, Seven Nation Army.

A new Lions hero has been born and whenever this certain gentleman was involved in the action, the whole crowd erupted into “ohhhhh Maro Itoje!”. Fair play to the sound man at the ground – who must be a Lions fan – as he even played a few bars of the original tune, which only served to whip the crowd up to fever pitch.

The Lions’ roar at the final whistle must have shaken the rafters, even in Auckland, and the anticipation for the third and final Test is now immeasurable.

So this I say to all Lions fans who will be in Eden Park come Saturday: relax for the next few days, rest up those all-important vocal chords and lets be prepared to help the team create history.

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