British & Irish Lions

LIONS MAUL CHIEFS IN HAMILTON

LIONS MAUL CHIEFS IN HAMILTON

The Lions added some finesse to their power game, wing Jack Nowell bagging a pair of tries, in putting away a weakened Chiefs outfit 34-6 in Hamilton.

TEAM NEWS

The Chiefs were without their six All Blacks and four of their six Maori All Blacks, only hooker Hika Elliott and No. 8 Liam Messam backing up and then from the bench. 5/8 Stephen Donald captained the side in his 100th Chiefs appearance.

Gatland named all six of the players added to the squad on Sunday in his 23, lending weight to the theory that he’d already decided on his Test 23 and the rest were there for this and the remaining midweek match against the Hurricanes next Tuesday.

THE MATCH

Lions lock Courtney Lawes, showing no sign of the head knock that had his tour in doubt this time last week, pinched the Chiefs first lineout throw 10m from his own line. That dominance continued throughout, the Lions scrum was seldom troubled, either, and the rolling maul won them a second-half penalty try.

The Lions defence was as impressive as in previous games, although prop Joe Marler was sin-binned for a senseless no-arms tackle off the ball, and simply stifled the Chiefs much as happened in the Crusaders match.

Halfback Greig Laidlaw’s kicking game was much improved on his previous outings, and the chase was again better than in opening two matches which again denied the Chiefs many counter-attacking opportunities.

The forwards were brutal in contact, CJ Stander putting in another powerful display to keep the pressure on Test No.8-apparent Taulupe Faletau and Lawes backed up his good lineout work with some big carries. Only veteran James Haskell was merely adequate and it was no surprise he was the flanker pulled during Marler’s stint in the bin.

The Chiefs, as with the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks, never got into the game through a combination of the pressure put on them by the Lions, and failure to execute the basics. Attempts were made to beat the rush defence with chip- and grubber kicks, but on almost every occasion it went to a Lions sweeper rather than being contestable or turning the defence around.

Even though the result is unlikely to change Gatland’s thinking in terms of the Test 23, it does serve as a reminder that should any of them under-perform at Eden Park there are viable alternatives close at hand.

Full match report: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/20/lions-tour-chiefs-victory-match-report

The scorers:

Lions:
Tries: Jack Nowell (2), penalty try, Jared Payne. Conversions: Dan Biggar (3). Penalties: Biggar (2)

Chiefs:
Penalties: Stephen Donald (2)

Highlights:

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