Warren Gatland's Lions fall at first Test
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 25, 2017,
Jun 25, 2017, 12:02
The mighty All Blacks were convincing and worthy winners at Eden Park, but a painful first Test for the British and Irish Lions at least provided one breathtaking passage of play that will live long in the memory.
On the back of just two and a-bit games of Super Rugby and almost two months getting over a fractured thumb, Read evoked images of the great Richie McCaw at his best with a commanding 76-minute display that saw him in the thick of everything the All Blacks did well in an outstanding display.
The All Blacks then began to assert themselves with Beauden Barrett notching the first points of the game with a 13-minute penalty before converting Codie Taylor's try five minutes later after the hooker had impressively picked up a low pass out wide to dive over.
There were times when the pictures didn't make sense - like when the All Blacks scrummaged for a penalty and when the Lions scored a length of the field counter attack try that was full of magical running and brilliant off loading.
Gatland rests every player that featured in the first Test defeat by the All Blacks bar George Kruis, who is named among the replacements, and there are three changes from the team who thumped the Chiefs last week 34-6, with Scotland wing Tommy Seymour, Wales back George North and England centre Jonathan Joseph coming into the starting line-up.
After a rousing Haka, the Lions nearly got off to the flawless start with a line break from Jonathan Davies who fed Elliot Daly, but the winger was held up over the line.
"It was a comprehensive victory, built on the raw physicality of the forwards and the inspirational leadership of (captain) Kieran Read".
"Obviously New Zealand and the All Black rugby is pretty well known for throwing the ball around and being pretty adventurous".
Had the All Blacks scored again quickly, the Lions might have been broken and New Zealand could have taken control.
But the Lions were not about to lie down, never mind that the All Blacks were building some ominous pressure through a mix of silky offloads and hard-charging runs.
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.
Referee Jaco Peyper checked that Read had not knocked on and Barrett added the extras to give the All Blacks a 20-8 lead, which he extended with his third penalty on the hour mark.
"We had an excellent first half and created plenty of chances", Lions captain Peter O'Mahony told Sky Sports 1.
"He still has to (undergo) testing".
In an otherwise excellent performance from Williams, he was left reeling on 71 minutes when he failed to gather a kick from TJ Perenara, which allowed Ioane in for his second try.
"There's a few things I want some clarity over in terms of the sacking of the lineouts, just for me to get some understanding about that", said Gatland.
"So for me it's just about protecting the players, making sure they are safe and that's my biggest concern".