British and Irish Lions 2017: Sean O'Brien cleared, Sonny Bill Williams banned

Sean O'Brien
Sean O'Brien was "outstanding" in the second Test, according to assistant coach Graham Rowntree
Third Test: New Zealand v British and Irish Lions
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: Saturday, 8 July Kick-off: 08:35 BST
Coverage: Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O'Brien is free to play in Saturday's third Test against the All Blacks after being cleared of dangerous play.

O'Brien was alleged to have struck New Zealand wing Waisake Noholo during the second-Test win in Wellington.

However, the Irish back row denied the offence and the claim was dismissed by a three-man panel.

O'Brien and Warren Gatland both thanked the panel, with the coach adding: "We are pleased with decision."

The news came after All Black Sonny Bill Williams was banned for four weeks for his shoulder charge into Anthony Watson's face during the second Test, which the Lions won 24-21.

After his hearing on Sunday, the 31-year-old said he was "really disappointed, but happy with being able to get in there and say my piece".

He added: "They've come to the conclusion that it was reckless - it wasn't intentional. I'm very disappointed that I've let my brothers down."

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek, former All Blacks coach Graham Henry said the centre had "made a mistake".

"He'll be extremely disappointed that he has let his team down and people understand that. It wasn't intentional," he added.

Discipline will 'kill' Lions

Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree said Leinster forward O'Brien was "outstanding" in Saturday's victory at the Westpac Stadium.

"He's the barometer of our energy and aggression in the game," Rowntree said. "His ball pressure, his tackling, his carrying - he's been outstanding.

"We've got a class group of back rowers and I'd have no qualms about anyone else stepping up."

Rowntree also warned players are at risk of losing their places in the side because of ill discipline.

The Lions conceded 13 penalties in Wellington - 10 of which were kickable - and it was only Beauden Barrett's profligacy from the tee that kept the tourists alive.

"We have got to sort it out because it is going to kill us," Rowntree added.

"We have to sit them down and show them every day. We can't be doing this. We have to keep reiterating that point to the players.

"We can't lose a Test series on the back of some stupid penalties. That would be unacceptable. How do you live with that for the rest of your life?"

Prop Mako Vunipola was shown a yellow card in the second half as the Lions lost their discipline and composure, and Rowntree says players will be dropped by Gatland for the series decider in Auckland if necessary.

"Gats has shown he is not afraid of doing things like that," Rowntree said.

"But it is not as if it is the same offenders. We will be very frank and objective with the lads. The pictures are undeniable. That will be a big theme of the week."

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