Lions im­press in All Blacks dress re­hearsal

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RUGBY -

LEIGH Half­penny booted the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions to a con­vinc­ing 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks yes­ter­day to re­gain pre­cious mo­men­tum be­fore next week’s first Test against New Zealand.

Af­ter turn­ing 12-10 ahead, a penalty try soon af­ter half­time and try from lock Maro Itoje — when the Maori had a man in the sin bin — gave the Lions com­plete con­trol at a wet Ro­torua. Half­penny kicked six penal­ties and a con­ver­sion.

The Lions’ con­fi­dence­boost­ing 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.

While the All Blacks ran from all an­gles in their 12-try, 78-0 win over Samoa on Fri­day, the clin­i­cal Lions stuck to their for­mula of mix­ing a kickand-chase game from Conor Mur­ray with strong driv­ing for­ward play.

They had the bet­ter of the Maori in the air and at the breakdown, and they dom­i­nated the scrums in the sec­ond half.

Such was their over­whelm­ing con­trol, boosted by the scav­eng­ing of Sean O’Brien, that they en­joyed more than 70 per cent of pos­ses­sion.

De­spite an abun­dance of ball and ter­ri­tory they strug­gled to beat a tena­cious Maori de­fence and get across the line.

Mean­while, Fiji con­jured a dra­matic drop goal af­ter the full-time siren to de­feat Italy 22-19 in a one-off Test in Suva, ex­tend­ing the Az­zurri’s los­ing streak to eight games.

Ireland gave Ja­pan a bru­tal re­al­ity check as they crushed the Asian cham­pi­ons 50-22 yes­ter­day in the sec­ond of their three-match sum­mer tour.

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