Player of the Tour: Wales’ Jonathan Davies, below, played every minute of the Tests and was in world class form throughout. He won the players’ player of the tour award and they should know. Maro Itoje was a close second while skipper Sam Warburton scarcely put a foot wrong in his two Test appearances.
Leading try scorer on tour: Tommy Seymour with three.
Leading points scorers: Owen Farrell (45), Dan Biggar second (35).
Best try: Easy. Nothing compares with Sean O’Brien’s effort in the second Test. It was Anthony Watson who fielded the ball deep in his own half and shifted it to Liam Williams who was probably expected to find touch. Instead Williams, receiving the ball in pretty much the same position as Phil Bennett did for the Barbarians in 1973, set off across field before he suddenly stepped off his right foot and straightened up showing the pace of the Test wing he sometimes is. A clever half block from Ben T’eo on Sonny Bill helped that process and Williams gobbled up the ground before a perfectly timed pass sent Elliott Daly tearing down the left wing without breaking stride. At one stage Daly checked slightly before hitting the outside again and connecting with Jonathan Davies with a perfect inside pass. Davies meanwhile had somehow sensed Sean O’Brien steaming up in support and cleverly took the tackles of the two New Zealand defenders to release O’Brien for a perfect score. The only thing missing was Cliff Morgan’s commentary.
Yellow cards: Iain Henderson, Mako Vunipola, Leigh Halfpenny, Joe Marler.
Did not play: Cory Hill, Tomas Francis, Gareth Davies, Kristian Dacey.
Alleged nicknames on tour: Coco (Warren Gatland); Tullow Tank (Sean O’Brien); Missile (George Kruis); Avatar (Sam Warburton); Sanjay (Liam Williams) Snorlax (Mako Vunipola); Kiko (Jack Nowell); the Llama (Iain Henderson); Stern (Tommy Seymour); Rikishi (Tadh Furlong); Fox (Jonathan Davies); Briefcase (Elliott Daly); The Pearl (Maro Itoje); Bieber (Conor Murray); Gwyn Boots (Alun Wyn jones); Little Faz (Owen Farrell); Sheriff (Ken Owens); Big Goose (Courtney Lawes); Georgie (Rory Best).
Strange but true: The 2017 lions led New Zealand for a total of three minutes (at the end of the second Test). The much maligned 2005 Lions led New Zealand for 23 minutes (at the start of the second Test).
Best team talks: Scott Quinnell on Sky TV.
Seminal moment: It’s been 50 years since an All Black has been sent off in Test rugby which frankly defies belief given some of the incidents we have witnessed. Jerome Garces’ decision to send Sonny Bill Williams packing in the second Test sent a big and welcome message around the rugby world. Nobody is immune, not even a good bloke like Williams. Great players can occasionally do bad things.
Unluckiest Lions: Jonathan Joseph looked in good nick but never really got a chance to shine. Iain Henderson and Tommy Seymour would have been capped on other tours, ditto Dan Biggar who excelled for the midweek team. Peter O’Mahony didn’t do much wrong as captain in the first Test but didn’t feature again on tour.
New Zealand player of the Series: Has to be centurion Kieran Read, but Aaron Smith wasn’t far behind and Brodie Retallick was outstanding.
Best try against the Lions: Jordie Barrett’s effort yesterday was a cracker but the best try was surely that sumptuous match winning effort by Ihaia West for the Auckland Blues at Eden Park, courtesy of Sonny Bill’s miraculous offload.
Best hosts: The New Zealand rugby public generally but pride of place to Sandra and Eddie Ioane, stalwarts of the Ponsonby club who provided a bed for a couple of nights for IT consultant Alex Edwards for the Blues match – when sons Reiko and Akira starred in a famous win over the Lions.
Biggest shock of the tour: (New Zealand Herald editorial June 7)
“As the years have passed, and New Zealand rugby followers have reflected on it, more of them have felt uncomfortable about what happened. It was not only the tackle, and the failure of a post-match judiciary to punish at least one of the tacklers, it was also the way New Zealand Rugby and its loyal supporters closed ranks, refusing to give the Lions a fair hearing. It was 12 years ago and Umaga is not the only New Zealander who wishes it was behind us. Hopefully, he wishes it had never happened but in that case, why could he not say so? Why, when he has said he knew the incident would be raised at Monday’s Press conference, did he not come prepared to give a gracious expression of regret? NZ Rugby ought to have urged him to do so. Until somebody on our side says the right thing, we are in no position to tell the British rugby Press or public to put it behind them. We may hope their lingering disgust does not intrude on this tour but we are in no position to say it should not.”
Thought for the future: “I wonder about having Lions Tests at home back in the British Isles. I wonder if that would be a possibility going forward. Ask the players and fans – that’s what the game is about. I’m sure they would all be very positive about the Lions brand continuing and maybe expanding in the future” – Graham Henry