Dunedin - The
British and Irish Lions stumbled to a 23-22 defeat to the Highlanders
on Tuesday as they suffered the second loss of their tour
ahead of next week's first Test against the All Blacks.
As it happened: Highlanders v British and Irish Lions
The Lions finally found their attacking mojo, scoring three tries to
two - more than doubling their try tally so far - but lost from a
winning position through a late penalty.
"Unfortunately, some big moments we didn't nail allowed them back
into the game," coach Warren Gatland said after his team led 22-13
mid-way through the second half.
"We needed some strong game management to close the game down. We've
taken a little bit of a step backwards but we have to learn from those
The Lions now have two wins and two losses after four outings on
their gruelling 10-match New Zealand tour, with the first Test in
Auckland looming a week on Saturday.
The match was played at breakneck pace in front of a capacity 27 000
crowd at Forsyth Barr stadium, with both sides attempting to run the
ball under the covered roof.
It resulted in a chaotic scramble in the final minutes, when
replacement flyhalf Marty Banks potted a penalty to give the
Highlanders a one-point edge.
Elliot Daly attempted to return fire but his long-range penalty
effort fell just short, before centre Jonathan Joseph's knock-on after
the siren dashed hopes of a last-gasp comeback.
The loss against a Highlanders side missing seven players on
international duty was a disappointment for Gatland's men, who were
looking to build momentum after beating the Crusaders on
They also have concerns over lock Courtney Lawes, who went off in the
first half with head knock. Fullback Stuart Hogg earlier departed the
tour after suffering a facial fracture against the Crusaders.
The Lions showed attacking
intent, with captain Sam Warburton among the try-scorers as he fights to
secure his Test spot after a run of injuries.
While disappointed the Lions conceded 12 penalties, Warburton said
the match should help instill some discipline as the tourists build to
the three-Test series against the world champion All Blacks.
"We're going to learn a lot more from a game where we lose by one point than we win by 60," he said.
"We can mature a bit as a squad and work on those key moments."
The Highlanders decided against performing a haka before the match
and were instead led out by a piper before captain Luke Whitelock handed
Warburton a giant claymore sword.
The hosts tested fullback Jared Payne under the high ball early but
he proved up to the challenge, prompting them to send the ball wide.
After a penalty apiece, All Black Waisake Naholo scored the first try
after Malakai Fekitoa broke the Lions' defensive line and flank
Gareth Evans off-loaded as he was being crashed to the ground.
Joseph hit straight back with a scything run that left Highlanders
fullback Richard Buckman flailing, locking up the scores 10-10 at the
Scottish wing Tommy Seymour put the Lions into the lead just after
the restart, beating Fekitoa in the air as he tried to gather Naholo's
Warburton then gave the tourists a third try after a dominant Lions
scrum, only for Highlander Liam Coltman to retaliate from a lineout
That reduced the arrears to 22-20, and Owen Farrell missed a chance
to give the Lions some breathing space with a penalty from out wide.
But Banks made no mistake after the Highlanders won a scrum penalty,
coolly slotting over the posts to put the hosts ahead 23-22 with eight
minutes to go.
Daly's ambitious kick from 56 metres fell just short before Joseph's
mistake ended the match, a harsh result for the try-scorer, who was one
of the Lions' standouts.
The Lions' next tour match is against the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua on Saturday, with the first Test in Auckland a week later.
Tries: Waisake Naholo, Liam Coltman
Conversions: Lima Sopoaga, Marty Banks
Penalties: Sopoaga (2), Banks
British and Irish Lions
Tries: Jonathan Joseph, Tommy Seymour, Sam Warburton
Conversions: Dan Biggar (2)
15 Richard Buckman, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Substitutes: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Patrick Osborne
British and Irish Lions
15 Jared Payne; 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Tommy Seymour; 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb; 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 James Haskell; 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Courtney Lawes; 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rory Best, 1 Joe Marler
Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Elliot Daly