Rotorua - Coach Warren Gatland said Test spots to face the
All Blacks were still up for grabs after the British and Irish Lions' 32-10
mauling of the Maori All Blacks on Saturday.
Gatland said he would wait until after the Lions' final
warm-up against the Chiefs on Tuesday before deciding his team for next week's
opening Test in Auckland.
"It's a nice stepping-stone for next week," coach
Gatland said, after the Lions' comprehensive victory in wet conditions in
"A few guys are going to get opportunities on Tuesday
night in the game against the Chiefs and after that we'll look at selecting the
Captain Peter O'Mahony said the win provided crucial
momentum in the Lions' bid to become only the second Lions side to win a series
in New Zealand.
The Lions have lost two of their five tour games so far, but
from the way they outplayed the Maori it is clear that they are growing in
With a shadow Test side, they showed they have nearly
perfected the Gatland masterplan as they suffocated the life out of an
It was built around the accurate kick-chase game of Ireland
halves Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, and a forward pack thriving on
old-school driving up the middle.
It contrasts with the All Blacks' flamboyant, free-running
focus where tries are paramount.
Gatland's Lions turned their 72 percent share of possession
into a 75 percent territorial advantage, and pressuring the Maori into mistakes
enabled fullback Leigh Halfpenny to kick six penalties.
Despite their domination they only managed two tries - one a
scrum-powered penalty try and one to impressive lock Maro Itoje, and both when
Maori scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow was in the sin bin.
The arm-wrestle approach, however, suited Gatland who was
not concerned about losing two midweek games so far, as long as his side were
improving towards the Tests.
"It was a good performance," he said. "We've
improved game on game just from the pure quality of the opposition that we've
come up against.
"That was a step up again tonight and I'm really really
pleased with that performance.
"We got in behind them, we created some stuff and when
you look at the attacking ability of the Maori backline they didn't cause us
too many problems.
"I thought we defended well and the line out and scrum
and mauling was excellent."
Captain Peter O'Mahony singled out the powerful scrums and
lineouts as laying the platform for the victory.
"Every game is based on a good set piece. It goes a
long way to winning the game and I thought the boys were very good
tonight," he said.
"It (the win) is important for our momentum, our
confidence. You don't want to be going into a game against the All Blacks with
losses under our belt.
"This win goes a long way to building what we want to