Drama as Sonny Bill cops controversial red card

The All Blacks were controversially reduced to 14 men in the first half against the British and Irish Lions when centre Sonny Bill Williams was sent off.

Williams was given the red card by referee Jerome Garces for a no-armed tackle on Lions winger Anthony Watson with the score locked at 3-3.

Garces was unequivocal about his decision before he sent Williams, saying "I need to protect the player. It was a direct charge on the head."

He's the third All Black to ever be sent off in a Test, with Colin Meads the most recent, in 1967.

Williams was sent off after 25 minutes. Pic: Getty

The All Blacks centre failed to use his arms in the tackle on Watson, with his right shoulder making contact with the Lions' winger's head.

Play was initially allowed to go on but after consulatation with the TMO, the French referee gave Williams his marching orders.

The All Blacks went into the match leading 1-0 in the series after last week's 30-15 win.