’Canes come­back si­lences Lions roar

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

WELLING­TON: The Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions frit­tered away a 16-point half-time lead to draw 31-31 with Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons the Hur­ri­canes yes­ter­day in a fresh set­back fol­low­ing their first Test loss to the New Zealand All Blacks.

First-half tries to wingers Tommy Sey­mour, from an in­ter­cept, and Ge­orge North, from a spilled high kick, gave the Lions a 23-7 lead at the break. Sey­mour touched down again in the sec­ond half as the Lions seemed to shut down the first signs of a Hur­ri­canes’ rally.

Sey­mour’s dou­ble gave the Lions a 31-17 lead after 56 min­utes but the Hur­ri­canes wore down the tourists – a man short for 10 min­utes after lock Iain Hen­der­son was yel­low carded in the 66th. The Hur­ri­canes scored twice – via West Goosen and Vaea Fi­fita – to level the score.

Head coach Warren Gat­land called on the sec­ond-string play­ers to help the Lions quickly re­group fol­low­ing Satur­day’s 30-15 loss to New Zealand and for long pe­ri­ods they an­swered his call with a phys­i­cal and en­ter­pris­ing dis­play. Three tries to wingers re­flected more clin­i­cal fin­ish­ing by the Lions.

The for­wards also de­prived the dan­ger­ous Hur­ri­canes’ back­line of all but a few scraps of pos­ses­sion in the first half but they tired as the New Zealan­ders ral­lied.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing be­cause we were in so much con­trol,” Gat­land said.

The Lions opened a 13-0 lead after 22 min­utes from two penal­ties from Dan Big­gar and Sey­mour fin­ish­ing off a lon­grange try.

The Hur­ri­canes fi­nally won an at­tack­ing penalty in the 29th minute and, after a quick tap and ruck, Brad Shields handed off to flanker Cal­lum Gib­bins who scored.

Big­gar put the Lions ahead 16-7 with a penalty in the 32nd minute and North made the lead 23-7 four min­utes later with an­other try that re­warded the tourists’ abil­ity to chase and cre­ate pres­sure from their own kicks.

To stay in the game the Hur­ri­canes had to score first after half-time and they did, bril­liantly, after only two min­utes through All Black Leaumape. After Brad Shield’srun on the left the Hur­ri­canes moved the ball cross-field and cen­tre Vince Aso put winger Ju­lian Savea into a gap. The gi­ant All Blacks wing ran strongly then passed to Leaumape, who bull­dozed through Big­gar to score. Jordie Barrett con­verted.

Big­gar re­stored a nine­point mar­gin with his sixth goal in the 52nd minute and Hen­der­son was held up un­der the posts shortly af­ter­wards. From the penalty, the Lions moved the ball quickly through mid­field for Sey­mour to score.

Hen­der­son’s strong game was marred three min­utes later, though, when he was sin-binned for a spear tackle on Barrett. From the en­su­ing penalty the Hur­ri­canes won quick line-out ball, a long pass from Barrett cre­at­ing a try for re­place­ment Goosen.

Fi­fita scored a try, con­verted by Barrett, in the 70th minute which tied the score in the last mid-week game of the 10-match tour. – AP

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