Lions captain plays key role as ref changes mind

BY AP • July 8, 2017

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton played a key role in causing the referee to change his mind on a crucial penalty call in the last moments of Saturday's third test against New Zealand.

Referee Romain Poite of France had awarded a penalty to New Zealand with the score locked at 15-15 in the deciding match of the three-test series. Had flyhalf Beauden Barrett kicked the goal from relatively close range, the All Blacks would likely have won the match and the series.

But Lions captain Warburton approached Poite and urged him to reconsider his decision.

Poite consulted with his assistant referees, then called for replays and ultimately changed his mind, rescinding the penalty and awarding the All Blacks a scrum.

''I just asked him to check the accidental offside,'' Warburton said. ''It's a shot to nothing at that point. They awarded the penalty and it's worth asking the question.

''All through the game he was pretty receptive at having a look at things which happened and which he might not have caught at first sight.

''A lot of referees I've experienced in the past would make a call and would stick to it but over this series they've been really good at being able to go back and have a look when players come up with something.

''Obviously, if you question something 10 or 15 times a game they won't credit what you say. I kind of think `less is more' in those situations. Luckily he listened to the question to just have a check again.''