Owen Farrell salvages unconvincing opening victory for Lions in New Zealand

Ref watch: Australia's Angus Gardner had a thankfully quiet game in what turned out to be a closely-fought contest. Replacements: Jamie George (for Best, 49) 6, Mako Vunipola (for Marler, 49) 6, Tadhg Furlong (for Sinckler, 49) 6, George Kruis (for Henderson, 49) 6, Justin Tipuric (for Warburton, 66) 5, Rhys Webb (for Laidlaw, 57) 6, Owen Farrell (for Sexton, 48) 8.

Leinster and Ireland out-half Sexton and Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw struggled to control the game, the 10 missed his first kick at goal and was receiving treatment when Laidlaw kicked the Lions' first points in a disappointing second half.

England star Owen Farrell had hardly set foot on the sodden Toll Stadium turf when he launched the killer move, then supplied the scoring pass for Anthony Watson's decisive try.

Sexton had admitted in advance of this clash that he was already lagging behind Saracens talisman Farrell in the race for the Lions' number 10 Test shirt.

Steve Hansen and his All Blacks side would not have been one bit anxious from what they saw on Saturday but it would be naive of them to read too much into it.

Instead Faletau insisted he only listens to advice from coaches, team-mates and family - and vowed to stick to that formula as a gruelling Lions tour hits full swing.

The Lions coach said he would never use the schedule as an excuse for a slow start, but did say that in an ideal world they would have had a complete week in New Zealand before playing their first match.

They'll need to quickly rectify those errors to defeat the Blues on Wednesday.

The hosts showed slick, aggressive interplay at jarring odds with the sloppy, sluggish and error-strewn approach of the big-name tourists, who turned around in embarrassing arrears at half-time.

Burly English midfielders Jonathan Joseph and Ben Te'o were mostly anonymous, running less than 40 first-half metres combined, while Sexton struggled.

Rory Best in the dressing room ahead of the game.

Baa Baa's first-five Bryn Gatland troubled the Lions with his attacking kicks, and it was a bomb on the Lions 22 metre line which led to the first try of the game to captain Sam Anderson-Heather who barged over the line to the delight of the fans.

There were a number of disappointing performances and some definite winners and losers from a players perspective but the overriding feeling is that this was just three days into their time in New Zealand, so a scrappy performance was to be expected.

Farrell came on for Sexton and steadied the ship immediately, sending Moriarty clear in the build-up to Anthony Watson's try.

  • Leroy Wright