Week Lions team in for Chiefs clash

Doug Mendoza
June 18, 2017

A direct, physical approach paid off for the tourists, who were far too good for the undisciplined Moaris and were rewarded with a penalty try and another for the superb Maro Itoje in a one-sided second half after Tawera Kerr-Barlow was sin-binned for a risky tackle on Leigh Halfpenny.

The trusty Halfpenny nailed all seven kicks to stay flawless with the boot on tour, scoring 22 points on the night, and Gatland will be looking for more of the same from the Lions when they face Chiefs on Tuesday.

The incessant rain in Rotarua did not help the Maori backs to shine and if Warren Gatland had his way his Lions would respond to next Saturday's Test match Haka with a rain dance.

The Lions' confidence-boosting win, after Tuesday's loss to the Otago Highlanders and a week before they face the All Blacks, underscored how the first Test in Auckland will be a battle of contrasting styles. "Our line-out and scrum are getting better, we are getting to know each other better, the team cohesion day-by-day is getting stronger", Itoje said. Obviously they were outstanding in the second half of course.

Regardless of Gatland's fighting talk, Hansen would have seen nothing unexpected from the Lions, who outmuscled the Maori at the set-piece and kicked strategically via five-eighth Sexton and Conor Murray at the base of the ruck.

The Lions forwards carried the ball forward strongly, keeping possession through long series of phases which sapped the strength and resistance of the Maori and steadily broke down their resistance. Hopefully that sets us up nicely for the Test next week. There's a big game on Tuesday and it's good timing for a good win. The new rules mean penalty tries are automatically worth seven points, so the Lions led 22-10 with half an hour to play.

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"I feel us improving every game".

Ben Te'o pummeled the ball forward in midfield when asked to do so and the Lions' back three played their part as ball carriers in tight quarters without ever having the chance to really chance their arm out wide.

Tour skipper Warburton is scrapping for full fitness after ankle trouble - but Gatland holding him back from facing the Chiefs indicates the Wales back-rower can still squeeze himself into the 23 for the first Test.

It was not until the Maori were down to 14 men, with scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow yellow-carded for a no-arms tackle on Halfpenny, that the Lions benefited with their two tries. Liam Messam's 12th-minute kick-and-chase try was a real bonus for the Maori, the product of a costly fumble by George North.

Halfpenny kicked his fourth penalty of the evening, whilst Damian McKenzie missed narrowly to the left of the posts, as the men in red and white held on for a narrow 12-10 half-time advantage.

"I'm pretty proud of my roots and it's a great place to grow up", Gatland said.

Other reports by GizPress

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