Rotorua - Leigh
Halfpenny booted the British and Irish Lions to a convincing 32-10 win
over the Maori All Blacks on Saturday to regain precious momentum ahead
of next week's first Test against New Zealand.
After turning 12-10 ahead, a penalty try soon after half-time 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.
"It's important for our momentum, our confidence," said Lions captain Peter O'Mahony.
"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
The Lions' confidence-boosting 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 kick-and-chase game from Conor Murray with strong, driving,
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 percent of possession.
But despite an abundance of ball and territory they struggled to beat a tenacious Maori defence and get across the line.
The Lions did, however,
successfully shut down the Maori backs and young All Blacks Nehe
Milner-Skudder, Rieko Ioane and Damian McKenzie - all considered
exceptional ball-runners - had few opportunities.
The one time Milner-Skudder featured it produced the game's opening try, when he slipped through a gap and kicked ahead.
George North failed to gather the ball, allowing Liam Messam to charge through and touch down on 12 minutes.
It was not until the Maori were down to 14 men, with scrumhalf
Tawera Kerr-Barlow yellow-carded for a no-arms tackle on Halfpenny, that
the Lions benefited with their two tries.
The first was a seven-point penalty try when the Maori forwards,
already on a warning from referee Jaco Peyper, gave way in a five-metre
The second try went to Saracens lock Itoje, who barged over after another Maori scrum disintegrated.
While the pre-match focus was on the Lions' loose trio of Taulupe
Faletau, O'Brien and Peter O’Mahony, it was Itoje who was the towering
force among the forwards.
By the time Kerr-Barlow returned to the fray, the fight had gone out
of his forward pack and the Lions forwards were able to rumble forward
When the Maori had a full complement of 15 on the field, the Lions
camped deep in enemy territory but they could not score a try.
Halfpenny landed four penalties in the first half with McKenzie converting Messam's try and kicking a penalty for the Maori.
In addition to the two tries in the second half for the Lions, Halfpenny added a further two penalties and a conversion.
Maori All Blacks
Try: Liam Messam
Conversion: Damian McKenzie
British and Irish Lions
Tries: Penalty Try, Maro Itoje
Conversions: Penalty Try, Leigh Halfpenny
Penalties: Halfpenny (6)
Maori All Blacks
James Lowe, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Charlie Ngatai,
11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam
Messam, 7 Elliot Dixon, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Joe Wheeler, 3
Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Kane Hames
Hikawera Elliot, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Leighton Price, 20
Kara Pryor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Rob Thompson
British and Irish Lions
Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon/WAL), 14 Anthony Watson (Bath/ENG), 13 Jonathan
Davies (Scarlets/WAL), 12 Ben Te'o (Worcester/ENG), 11 George North
(Northampton/WAL), 10 Johnny Sexton (Leinster/IRL), 9 Conor Murray
(Munster/IRL), 8 Taulupe Faletau (Bath/WAL), 7 Sean O'Brien
(Leinster/IRL), 6 Peter O'Mahony (captain - Munster/IRL), 5 George
Kruis, Saracens/ENG), 4 Maro Itoje (Saracens/ENG), 3 Tadhg Furlong
(Leinster/IRL), 2 Jamie George (Saracens/ENG), 1 Mako Vunipola
Substitutes: Ken Owens (Scarlets/WAL), Jack McGrath
(Leinster/IRL), Kyle Sinckler(Harlequins/ENG), Iain Henderson
(Ulster/IRL), Sam Warburton (Cardiff/WAL), Greig Laidlaw
(Gloucester/SCO), Dan Biggar (Ospreys/WAL), Elliot Daly (Wasps/ENG)