Lions dismiss midweek blues
PUTTING IN THE HARD YARDS: British and Irish Lions wing Jack Nowell was monumental in attack and defense for the touring team asthey downed the Chiefs yesterday. THE final warm-up match before the British and Irish Lions face the All Blacks proved a very different affair to the corresponding fixture four years ago, with a four-try romp against the Chiefs ensuring that Warren Gatland’s side ended with their first midweek victory of the tour in perfect preparation for Saturday’s first Test.
Two tries from Jack Nowell were a welcome sight, with Jared Payne and a second penalty try of the tour proving more than enough to see off the Chiefs 34-6.
Dan Biggar completing the scoring with 14 points with the boot.
The big winner of the day looks like Elliot Daly though, with the Wasps back taken off in the 60th minute in what looks to be a sign from Gatland that he will play some part in the match at Eden Park.
The Lions were by far the dominant side against a Chiefs team missing nine first-team players after being raided by both the All Blacks and Maori All Blacks. What was left was a side that looked like it had spent even fewer minutes together than the Lions squad, as their line-out massively malfunctioned early on and their scrum was taken apart 13 minutes in.
By that stage though, Joe Marler had already earned himself a yellow card with a late shoulder charge.
It led to the early introduction of Scotland prop Allan Dell, one of the six players called up last weekend in controversial circumstances by Gatland, but he immediately helped win a penalty for his side and it was a welcome impact to help forget a turbulent week.
The Lions had already been guilty of wasting a golden chance to score, as they went through 19 phases before Liam Williams knocked the ball on, though the penalty advantage gave Dan Biggar a simple shot at goal that he took before doubling the lead in the 18th minute when flanker Mitch Brown infringed.
It was another Chief who made the first real impact, though one that hailed from Exeter and not Waikato – Nowell. The winger made a nice break after a Courtney Lawes offload, before turning supplier to feed James Haskell. With the ball recycled and taken up to within two metre of the line by Biggar, Nowell was on hand to go straight from the base of the ruck to score.
The Chiefs would get on the board through their veteran fly-half, Stephen Donald, landing two penalties with the second coming on the stroke of halftime.
However, the second half saw the Lions click into gear, and the 13-6 lead they held rapidly built as they kept the opposition scoreless, the pack grounding outa penalty try to start off proceedings.
The third try was a beautiful move a minute short of the hour mark that showed just what the Lions can produce. Broken-field rugby has not been their friend so far this tour, but when Daly broke down the left wing, he produced a sublime pass right to Payne, who in turn found Robbie Henshaw. Although the Irishman was halted on the 22, quick ball was whipped to the right, and Iain Henderson fed Nowell who straightened the line, cut inside full-back Shaun Stevenson and charged over for his second.
The Chiefs allowed their heads to drop, and the result meant they were beneath their posts again four minutes later, when a mis-hit Donald clearance kick found Nowell with room to work with.
He drifted in-field where Williams cut a brilliant line, beating two defenders, before offloading to Payne for an easy walkover.
The only sour note came in Payne being forced off at the end with a head injury but the scoreline was a deserving one. – The Independent