Search

Maro on mark as Lions tame Maori All Blacks

PUBLISHED: 10:46 17 June 2017

Saracens lock Maro Itoje carries the ball for the British & Irish Lions against the Maori All Blacks (pic: David Davies/PA)

Saracens lock Maro Itoje carries the ball for the British & Irish Lions against the Maori All Blacks (pic: David Davies/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Maori All Blacks 10 British & Irish Lions 32

A brutal forward pack assault, with Saracens’ Maro Itoje scoring a try, silenced the Maori All Blacks and handed the British and Irish Lions a vital, morale-boosting victory.

A penalty try and another score from Itoje crushed the Maori spirit, with the home side given precious little sniff of stealing a victory to emulate their predecessors of 2005.

The Maori stunned the Lions 19-13 some 12 years back, but here the tourists wrestled their hosts into submission.

Leigh Halfpenny’s six penalties and flawless 20-point haul from the boot underpinned a muscular triumph, with the tourists dominant at the set-piece and all tight exchanges.

The Lions badly needed this victory, which will raise hopes somewhat ahead of next weekend’s Test opener against the All Blacks. But their attack is still yet to fire, and they can expect New Zealand to pick at that in the almost endless talking shop ahead of the Test clashes.

Still, the win and its inherent solidity will have provided some boon to Lions head coach Warren Gatland.

The tourists’ boss came under fire for apparently prioritising geographic proximity over meritocracy when drafting in four Welsh players and two from Scotland, to ease the burden on his squad ahead of the Test series.

Even Sir Ian McGeechan - Gatland’s Lions mentor - admitted the policy was “difficult to justify”, with the Lions claiming players from England and Ireland had too tiresome travel times to join the tour from Argentina and Japan.

The Lions will put their new recruits on the bench for Tuesday’s clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton, to protect their front-line 23 ahead of Saturday’s first All Blacks Test in Auckland.

Gatland has always maintained chasing Test-match victories against the back-to-back world champions must trump all other concerns however. So after copping some flak, he will have been delighted for the Lions to prevail in style in Rotorua.

Promising breaks undone by no killer instinct proved the story of a frustrating first half for the Lions, who still led 12-10 at the break.

The tourists spent all week demanding an end to stupid errors, only to gift the Maori the only try of the half.

George North continued his indifferent form by failing to claim cleanly when sliding back in a bid to sweep up a kick in behind. Nehe Milner-Skudder hacked on and Liam Messam finished.

Damian McKenzie’s conversion pushed the Maori into a 7-6 lead, after Halfpenny had posted two penalties for the Lions.

The Maori proved savvy at killing the ball every time the Lions edged deep into their territory, to stop Gatland’s men capping several smart moves with a try.

Johnny Sexton’s half-break almost set Tadhg Furlong away, then Jon Davies dummied and swept through the line, but neither time could the Lions finish.

Halfpenny’s third penalty put the Lions 9-7 ahead at the top of the second quarter, only for petulance from Itoje to cost his side.

The England lock threw the ball away after being choke-tackled, and referee Jaco Peyper pushed the visitors back 10 metres, enough to let McKenzie slot the goal, with the Maori sneaking a 10-9 lead.

Another Sexton half-break had Davies stealing through the line, only to spill the ball in contact.

Halfpenny’s fifth penalty pushed the Lions into a 15-10 lead to open the second half, with Saracens lock George Kruis increasingly vocal as the tourists ploughed through profitable tight phases.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow was fortunate to escape a yellow card when he shoulder-charged Halfpenny in the face, with the Lions full-back sliding low after being tackled.

The Lions produced a smart driving lineout, Ben Te’o powered close, and then Saracens hooker Jamie George burrowed to the line.

The try was chalked off however, with the officials unable to determine whether George had reached the whitewash.

The Lions then ruined the Maori scrum, not once but twice, with referee Peyper awarding a penalty try from the second. The new rules mean penalty tries are automatically worth seven points, so the Lions led 22-10 with half an hour to play.

The Lions turned the screw, forcing another five-metre scrum, and Taulupe Faletau drove close, before Itoje finished the move off.

Halfpenny’s conversion pushed the Lions’ lead to 29-10 and by the time Kerr-Barlow returned, the Lions had won the game, with another Halfpenny penalty adding more gloss.

ions: L Halfpenny (Wales); A Watson (England), J Davies (Wales), B Te’o (England), G North (Wales); J Sexton, C Murray (both Ireland); M Vunipola, J George (both England), T Furlong (Ireland), M Itoje, G Kruis (both England), P O’Mahony (capt, Ireland), S O’Brien (Ireland), T Faletau (Wales).

Replacements: K Owens (Wales), J McGrath (Ireland), K Sinckler (England), I Henderson (Ireland), S Warburton (Wales), G Laidlaw (Scotland), D Biggar (Wales), E Daly (England).

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford Sports News

Hammers boss Bilic back under pressure as his team put in pitiful performance

17:00

Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane wants his side to get on another impressive winning streak with two big Bostik North clashes this week.

16:00

Latest news from local netball club

15:00

The Daggers will host fifth place National League outfit Wrexham at Victoria Road on Saturday (3pm kick-off) and will be hoping to snap their four game winless run.

14:00

London Raiders forward Thomas Beesley is looking forward to playing against his former club Bracknell Bees this weekend.

13:00

Hornchurch school will aim to go out to New Zealand and Australian again next summer

12:30

Slaven Bilic’s men will host Premier League new boys Brighton & Hove Albion in a Friday night match.

12:00

Match at the Honourable Artillery Club in the City of London helped raise much-needed funds for the Royal British Legion

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read sport

Show Job Lists

News from your area

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now