Lions wonder-try is mere consolation as All Blacks dominate opening Test
- Author: Joanne Flowers Jun 25, 2017,
Jun 25, 2017, 15:43
All Blacks boss Steve Hansen certainly got one up on Lions head coach Warren Gatland in the mind games stakes, and rubbed salt into the wounds afterwards. Only Rhys Webb provided any tangible benefit to the effort from the pine.
The Lions finally made an impression on the scoreboard when Owen Farrell sent over his first penalty attempt shortly after the half-hour mark, but Barrett hit back nearly immediately to restore his side's 10-point advantage. They could have had a try at the beginning of the first half and the beginning of the second, both of which would have put real pressure on the All Blacks.
First blood went to the All Blacks when the Lions were pinged at the ruck.
Hansen admitted he finds it "amusing" when opponents attempt to dominate the All Blacks' tight five.
"I said to the players, don't expect them to be expansive because as a Kiwi I understand what the mindset is, and sometimes that's to stop the strength of the opposition; to stop our line speed. our driven lineout, and to be prepared at some stage to have a crack at our scrum and they did all those things and were very physical at the breakdown". While this was heartening and thrilling to watch, it ultimately hoisted Gatland's tourists: the All Blacks can play at that pace and make very few errors across a full 80 minutes.
"They didn't really play Champagne rugby did they?"
"But there's no need to panic, we just need to get our basics right, holding onto the ball".
Although New Zealand claimed a comfortable win on the scoreboard, there were times in the game when the Lions genuinely rocked their world champion hosts, especially with ball in hand.
He failed a concussion check.
Codie Taylor emulated incumbent No.2 Dane Coles by collecting a pass off his bootlaces to score the side's first five-pointer in the 18th minute, before freshly introduced props Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumuina helped create Ioane's first by monstering their counterparts at an attacking second-half scrum. "Ryan Crotty has pulled his hammy, so we already had Jack Goodhue in as a replacement to help him out with his ribs".
"The job isn't done", Hansen said.
Some of the Lions' attacking play - most notably the build-up to Sean O'Brien's try, of course - was reminiscent of some of the great attacking Lions rugby of the 70s.
Murray was hauled down just short of the line, but possession was then moved wide and wing Elliot Daly looked to have squeezed over in the corner, only to be denied by his opposite number Israel Dagg's quality defensive work.
One thing they can not count on as they attempt to take the series to a Third Test decider is any complacency from New Zealand.