Lions buried un­der NZ tidal wave

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SPORT -

RIEKO Ioane scored a brace of tries as the All Blacks went into over­drive in the sec­ond half to set up a com­pre­hen­sive 30-15 win that left the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions lament­ing ear­lier missed chances.

Although the Lions had enough chances that they wasted in the first 50 min­utes and could have been ahead at that point had they taken them, those who watch the All Blacks often will know how strong they get in the last half hour of a game..

The Lions got in the first at­tack of the game and the All Blacks looked a bit stunned as they only just man­aged to force the Lions out in the corner in the early min­utes, but for the rest of the first half it was the Lions who had to do most of the tack­ling.

New Zealand dom­i­nated the col­li­sions and got their off-load game work­ing.

There was a lot of scram­bling de­fence from the Lions, and af­ter 21 min­utes they had al­ready been forced to make 57 tack­les.

That was go­ing to catch up with them in the end, and the half­time stat was 81 tack­les by the Lions and 42 from the All Blacks.

With the Ki­wis renowned for their abil­ity to lift the tempo later and sus­tain the pace longer than any op­po­nent, you could have taken poi­son at that point that the home team would win the first match of a three­game rub­ber.

How­ever, the Lions for a while looked like they might just make a game of it thanks to some slip­pery run­ning from their back­line, with full­back Liam Wil­liams prov­ing par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous.

The All Black back­line had lost first full­back Ben Smith in the first quar­ter to con­cus­sion and then cen­tre Ryan Crotty to a leg in­jury.

It led to one of the finest tries scored in any Lions se­ries, with Wil­liams man­ag­ing to evade a tackle and es­cape prob­a­ble peril near his own line in the 35th minute.

He then set up an at­tack­ing in­ter­play down the left touch­line in which out­side cen­tre Jonathan Davies fea­tured strongly.

It was the Welsh­man’s strength in the tackle that en­abled him to swivel the off-load that led to flanker Sean O’Brien’s try.

The All Blacks had been lead­ing 13-3 at that point and threat­en­ing to take con­trol, so although Owen Far­rell missed the con­ver­sion, the Lions would have been happy to go into the break just five points down (13-8).

The vis­i­tors could eas­ily have taken the lead shortly af­ter half­time as sud­denly their at­tack­ing game started to find its ac­cu­racy, but on the night, apart from that first half score from O’Brien, they did waste too many op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the stage that the game was still a con­test.

The big turn­ing point in the game came in the 55th minute, with Kieran Read show­ing sublime skill in the way he picked up the ball at the base of a dom­i­nant ad­vanc­ing scrum and then sent Is­rael Dagg through to set up the score in the corner for Ioane.

The con­ver­sion made it 20-8 and it was a long way back from there for the Lions against a team renowned for their strong fin­ish.

There was a try to Rhys Webb right at the end that brought a bit of re­spectabil­ity to the fi­nal score, but it was no more than a con­so­la­tion ef­fort as the Lions were well beaten long be­fore then.

In reality the All Blacks, un­til they cruised in the last five min­utes and let in that un­nec­es­sary con­so­la­tion score, were all over the Lions in the last half hour.

It cer­tainly looked like it might get ugly for the Lions when Ioane prof­ited from a for­tu­nate bounce to power through for the third All Black try to make it 30-8 with not much less than a quar­ter of an hour re­main­ing.-AFP

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