There’s a few things we would have changed – War­bur­ton

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: Fly­half Marty Banks slot­ted a 74th minute penalty to give the High­landers a dra­matic 23-22 vic­tory over the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions, hand­ing the tourists their sec­ond de­feat of the tour in a Dunedin thriller yes­ter­day.

The Lions scored tries through cen­tre Jonathan Joseph, wing Tommy Sey­mour and cap­tain Sam War­bur­ton but, hav­ing led 22-13 in the 53rd minute, were over­hauled by a pas­sion­ate High­landers side in front of a rau­cous crowd at the Otago Re­gional Sta­dium.

All Blacks Waisake Na­holo and Liam Colt­man crossed for the home side, but it was re­place­ment fly­half Banks’ kick from the tee af­ter the High­landers pack had de­stroyed the Lions at a scrum in their own 22 that proved de­ci­sive.

The Lions now head to Ro­torua to face the Maori All Blacks in their fifth game of the 10-match tour on Satur­day with Gat­land ex­pected to pick his strong­est side with an eye on the first Test against the All Blacks on June 24 at Eden Park.

“We scored a cou­ple of tries which was a pos­i­tive,” War­bur­ton said.

“I’m sure for the neu­tral, for the High­landers fans, it was a great game to watch but for us, there’s a lot of learn­ing to do.

“It was a good tight match but if we could go back in time, I think there’s a few things we’d have changed out there...”

The home side, mind­ful the Lions had been su­perb in de­fence in their 12-3 win over the Cru­saders on Satur­day, played at a much higher tempo and at­tacked from greater depth than their south is­land ri­vals.

Gat­land’s team, how­ever, were more than able to match the lo­cals in an en­ter­tain­ing spec­ta­cle but their skill ex­e­cu­tion again let them down on sev­eral oc­ca­sions yes­ter­day.

Eng­land cen­tre Joseph did man­age to seize on one first-half chance when their for­wards cre­ated an over­lap that was fur­ther ex­ploited when Na­holo rushed out of po­si­tion.

Na­holo had ear­lier cap­i­talised on Joseph’s own mis­takes in de­fence when flank Gareth Evans made ground out wide and the All Blacks winger smashed through the tackle of Court­ney Lawes.

Lock Lawes was taken off for a head in­jury check and did not re­turn.

The sides went into the break with the scores tied at 10-10 but the Lions were soon ahead af­ter the re-start, Sey­mour snatch­ing a Lima Sopoaga cross­kick out of the air and sprint­ing un­touched to the line.

Fly­half Sopoaga nar­rowed the gap with his sec­ond penalty but then threw a poor pass close to his goal-line to put his side un­der pres­sure again, War­bur­ton mak­ing the most of the chance and bar­relling over for his side’s third try.

Hooker Colt­man’s try from a rolling maul, how­ever, brought the High­landers back to 22-20 and when the home side pushed the Lions scrum off their own ball, Banks stepped up to calmly send the win­ning kick be­tween the posts.

“Ev­ery­one was out­stand­ing,” High­landers cap­tain Luke White­lock said.

“We wanted to play at speed and we con­verted that into pres­sure.

“They keep com­ing, wave af­ter wave and the boys were just out­stand­ing get­ting up tack­ling and throw­ing their bod­ies into it.”


WE’VE DONE IT! High­landers play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter de­feat­ing the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions in Dunedin yes­ter­day.

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