All on in Auckland with Team NZ returning and Lions tour decider

EDITORIAL

A rare loss for the All Blacks failed to put a damper on one of the great weeks for New Zealand sport, setting up as it does a decider at Eden Park and revitalising a Lions tour which was at risk of ending in a dead rubber.

Even with Sonny Bill Williams becoming the first All Black in 50 years to get sent off, the All Blacks came within four minutes of holding the Lions to a draw — despite playing for 55 minutes with 14. It was New Zealand’s first loss at home for nine years. Williams’ embarrassment was compounded last night by a four-week stand-down.

Some cynics might say that if the Lions could only just beat 14 men, they will have little chance next Saturday . . . but it is certain Auckland will be the place to be this week.

That will start with a massive welcome home on Thursday for Team New Zealand, which has at least for now eclipsed rugby on the sporting scene. That sets up an enticing holiday in Auckland, except that the place is probably booked out.

The America’s Cup good news would have been welcomed by the Government as it distracted attention from its latest embarrassment, the revelation that American billionaire Peter Thiel spent only 12 days here before being granted citizenship. Never mind that Thiel has contributed $1 million to the Christchurch earthquake relief fund and that his global technology links are a major potential benefit to the country — it just does not look right to many.

Also put into the background was the long-awaited announcement that former Labour minister Shane Jones has joined New Zealand First, the first sign of a succession policy for Winston Peters.

On the world scene, ISIS lost the mosque from which it declared its self-proclaimed caliphate and is on the verge of losing the whole of Mosul as well. Donald Trump reached a new low with a tweet saying a female broadcaster was “bleeding from a facelift”.

These ebbs and flows of news are mostly in the past now, with all eyes in New Zealand on Auckland later this week.

A rare loss for the All Blacks failed to put a damper on one of the great weeks for New Zealand sport, setting up as it does a decider at Eden Park and revitalising a Lions tour which was at risk of ending in a dead rubber.

Even with Sonny Bill Williams becoming the first All Black in 50 years to get sent off, the All Blacks came within four minutes of holding the Lions to a draw — despite playing for 55 minutes with 14. It was New Zealand’s first loss at home for nine years. Williams’ embarrassment was compounded last night by a four-week stand-down.

Some cynics might say that if the Lions could only just beat 14 men, they will have little chance next Saturday . . . but it is certain Auckland will be the place to be this week.

That will start with a massive welcome home on Thursday for Team New Zealand, which has at least for now eclipsed rugby on the sporting scene. That sets up an enticing holiday in Auckland, except that the place is probably booked out.

The America’s Cup good news would have been welcomed by the Government as it distracted attention from its latest embarrassment, the revelation that American billionaire Peter Thiel spent only 12 days here before being granted citizenship. Never mind that Thiel has contributed $1 million to the Christchurch earthquake relief fund and that his global technology links are a major potential benefit to the country — it just does not look right to many.

Also put into the background was the long-awaited announcement that former Labour minister Shane Jones has joined New Zealand First, the first sign of a succession policy for Winston Peters.

On the world scene, ISIS lost the mosque from which it declared its self-proclaimed caliphate and is on the verge of losing the whole of Mosul as well. Donald Trump reached a new low with a tweet saying a female broadcaster was “bleeding from a facelift”.

These ebbs and flows of news are mostly in the past now, with all eyes in New Zealand on Auckland later this week.

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