Gerard Meagher

Author's details

Name: Gerard Meagher
Date registered: October 2, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/football/manchester-united

Latest posts

  1. New Zealand 30-15 British & Irish Lions: first Test player ratings — June 24, 2017
  2. New Zealand 30-15 Lions: first Test – as it happened — June 24, 2017
  3. Warren Gatland’s five big calls for the Lions’ first Test against All Blacks | Gerard Meagher — June 22, 2017
  4. How defence expert Dave Ellis switched sides to become All Blacks’ Lion tamer | Gerard Meagher — June 22, 2017
  5. Chiefs 6-34 Lions: tour match – as it happened — June 20, 2017

Author's posts listings

Jun 24

New Zealand 30-15 British & Irish Lions: first Test player ratings

Brodie Retallick was key to the All Blacks’ success in collisions and at the breakdown, while Alun Wyn Jones did not do enough to warrant his selection for the Lions

Ben Smith, full-back 6/10 Coughed up a few of Murray’s high kicks before making way in first half for a HIA and failing to return. But had already shown a couple of glimpses of his talents.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/24/new-zealand-british-and-irish-lions-first-test-player-ratings

Jun 24

New Zealand 30-15 Lions: first Test – as it happened

Two tries from Rieko Ioane and one from Codie Taylor have given New Zealand an impressive victory over the Lions in the first Test

10.46am BST

That’s all from me, join me again on Tuesday for the final midweek match against the Hurricanes.

Cheerio!

10.35am BST

Here’s the match report from our man in Auckland …

Related: New Zealand and Rieko Ioane run away with first Test against Lions

10.30am BST

For all the huffing and puffing it’s the All Blacks who have strangled the Lions!!! #LionsNZ0217

10.29am BST

You have to say New Zealand are thoroughly worth that win, probably by a few points. The Lions had some magical moments of their own but New Zealand were in total control. The dominated the gainline, they were on top at the scrum and they were lethal when they had their chances.

O”Brien’s try has a thing of beauty and the Lions will rue failing to take advantage when Davies broke down the left early in the second half but there were too many errors and too many penalties against. New Zealand force them however. Kieran Read was quite magnificent on his comeback and things will get harder for the Lions now next week in Wellington.

10.26am BST

80 mins: The Lions have advantage as Farrell tries to step in from the right. Back we go for the penalty. The clock is read but the new laws dictate that Sexton can still kick to the corner. Owens hits Faletau, the Lions have another penalty. We’re playing advantage, Webb throws the dummy, Davies can’t quite get there. Webb tries again though … and this time he’s over.

Farrell adds the extras and a little respectability.

10.23am BST

79 mins: The scrum will be re-set so we’ll go again. The Lions could really do with something to take with them here.

10.22am BST

78 mins: The Lions work to ball to the left, Sexton’s pass goes out but it’s a knock-on from Barrett. Sexton thinks it was deliberate but it’s just a scrum.

10.21am BST

77 mins: Lions win a penalty on halfway at the breakdown, Sexton goes for the corner, this time on the right.

Read goes off to a standing ovation.

10.20am BST

76 mins: The throw is overcooked though and Sinckler goes hard up the middle again.

10.19am BST

75 mins: Cruden finds touch, Whitelock takes the lineout, and the All Blacks have another penalty. That’s No11 conceded by the Lions.

10.18am BST

74 mins: Sinckler makes ground with a bust up the right, O’Brien then makes ground on the left but he’s penalised for holding on.

10.17am BST

73 mins: Halfpenny is on for Williams. Faletau is penalised for taking the man in the air but Barrett, perhaps his first mistake, fails to find touch.

10.15am BST

71 mins: The Lions come forward through Davies but loses it … Williams can’t take the high kick and Ioane picks up the loose ball. Wowsers, Ioane turns on the afterburners – Daly is not slow but Ioane burns him on the outside. That’s the game.

Barrett knocks over the conversion to make it six from six.

10.13am BST

69 mins: Whitelock steals … Kruis charges down though. New Zealand take the lineout swiftly and Cruden has plenty of time to clear so we’ll have a lineout for the Lions on the All Blacks 22.

10.12am BST

68 mins: The Lions have the advantage and we’ll come back for it. Cane pinged for blocking. Sexton goes for broke with the kick, it’s inch perfect. The maul has been very well defended so far but the Lions must take advantage of this. Webb and Owens on for Murray and George.

10.10am BST

67 mins: Scrum to the Lions, on the left, on their 10 metre line. Time to make something happen. Murray puts in, Sexton dummies but is hit hard.

10.09am BST

66 mins: Itoje steals it. Murray clears well in touch. That has just about kept the Lions alive. Taylor finds Read … but it’s not straight.

10.08am BST

65 mins: New Zealand kick to the corner. Ominous.

10.07am BST

64 mins: Ioane takes New Zealand up to the 22. The All Blacks are looking for the killer blow here, Barrett is almost there … it’s knocked on but we’re back for a penalty. The Lions are almost out for the count.

10.05am BST

63 mins: Sexton restarts. The Lions have it all to do now. Perenara clears and Williams takes it under pressure … the Lions put width on the ball but Watson can’t take it, it’s a knock-on. He scrambles to avoid anything worse than a scrum to New Zealand in a dangerous area.

10.04am BST

61 mins: It’s in front of the posts and Barrett will stretch New Zealand’s lead to 15 points.

10.03am BST

60 mins: Warburton takes the lineout but New Zealand have stolen it. Dagg threatens on the right. Warburton doing what he’s brought on to do, slowing the ball down, but Read takes New Zealand to five metres. Itoje comes up with a thumping tackle. Cane takes New Zealand to a couple of metres out, we’re back for a penalty to the All Blacks.

10.00am BST

Sinckler comes on for Furlong.

10.00am BST

59 mins: SBW carries hard – New Zealand are winning the gainline at the moment. Lienert-Brown juggles but still has it. Barrett grubbers so we’ll have a Lions lineout near their 22, or where they don’t want to be in other words.

9.58am BST

57 mins: Farrell kicks off for the Lions, who need the next score. Perenara is on for New Zealand and clears … it’s an untimely knock-on from Kruis.

Sexton is on for the outstanding Te’o. Farrell goes to 12.

9.57am BST

56 mins: Smith puts in, but we’ll go again. In it goes, and the scrum is going forward … the penalty is awarded but the ball bounces about and into Smith’s hands. New Zealand have numbers on the left, out it goes to Ioane and his over in the left corner. We’re going upstairs though … the Lions are hoping Read has knocked it on. He hasn’t.

Barrett’s conversion is from the touchline … and it’s straight through the posts.

9.52am BST

Sam Warburton is on for Peter O’Mahony.

9.51am BST

54 mins: The ball is loose and Daly is running on to it … but we’ll come back for a Lions knock-on in the tackle from Te’o. Excellent defence from Te’o though. New Zealand change their props.

9.50am BST

53 mins: Taylor hits his man, Itoje is in the thick of it for the Lions … Cruden thinks he’s seen some space but it’s patient from the All Blacks.

9.48am BST

52 mins: SBW grubbers, Williams collects it but his kick to touch is poor. Williams has a massive shiner and his head is bandaged. McGrath is on for Vunipola.

9.48am BST

51 mins: The All Blacks take a quick lineout … Dagg has it wide on the right near halfway.

9.47am BST

50 mins: O’Mahony takes the lineout again. Murray box-kicks. Dagg takes it under no pressure though and Barrett kicks again, this one stays in though. Williams’s kick is allowed to bounce but Dagg evades the tackle. Smith clears and Williams knocks it on.

9.45am BST

49 mins: Farrell thumps clear, Barrett takes it and measures his kick to touch. The Lions will have the lineout, just inside their own half. It’s raining.

9.43am BST

Maro Itoje is coming on. Ardie Savea is already on for Jerome Kaino.

9.42am BST

48 mins: New Zealand put in to the scrum just inside their 22. Smith gets it out, finds Cruden and then Ioane and the All Blacks are looking dangerous but Read has lost it forward. A let-off.

Cane it was that lost it forward, sorry.

9.40am BST

47 mins: Watson is stepping, and stepping, and stepping! He offloads, he should have held on to the ball. This is breathless stuff. Absolutely breathless. The Lions need to keep their heads though.

9.40am BST

45 mins: The Lions go for the corner, they go short with the lineout but can’t get the maul going. New Zealand have stolen it, but the Lions have it back, now the All Blacks have it back again and Dagg clears.

9.38am BST

44 mins: The Lions have burst down the left, Davies wriggles clear gives it to the left, then gets it back. Watson is almost there, then Williams has a go. What a break! The penalty is coming but will be there more? Te’o slips at just the wrong moment before Read wallops Farrell. The ball goes loose so we’re back for the penalty. Wow.

9.37am BST

43 mins: SBW then tackles Te’o just outside the Lions 22. It’s taken back so Davies’s kick stays infield.

9.36am BST

42 mins: Te’o wallops SBW in the tackle. The legs were taken just too high. There was some feeling in that … Cruden finds a good touch though but the Lions have it back.

9.35am BST

41 mins: Here we go again. Farrell kicks off … Daly takes the restart but it’s lost forward so there’s a scrum on the New Zealand 22.

9.33am BST

Great half. NZ playing some top-drawer stuff, Lions doing outstandingly well to stay in it. Bench impact could yet decide this… #NZLvBIL

9.31am BST

The Lions, we must remember are still five points down, but they went an early try behind four years ago until a moment of magic from George North sparked new life into them. Is Liam Williams’ break going to have the same effect?

9.24am BST

Well, well, well – Gatland said he had something up his sleeve and Liam William at full-back has come up with an ace just when the Lions needed it. He started the move that ended in one of the great Lions tries in history, finished off by Sean o’Brien, just when the Lions needed it.

Things were looking ominous up until then. After an even, breathless opening New Zealand were on top, keeping the tempo high and forcing mistakes and penalties from the Lions. Taylor has scored their only try but they have looked threatening indeed.

9.21am BST

40 mins: Smith has pinched it though but Cruden is charged down. New Zealand have it back though and have advantage … it’s very messy. The Lions needs to keep their discipline here. Retallick brings them up into the 22. The LIons have turned it over though and Murray kicks out. And breathe again. Huge and crucial hit in there from Te’o.

9.20am BST

39 mins: Murray finds a good touch after the restart. He’s hurt his hand though, which will be a worry. New Zealand lineout but the Lions have stolen it. Farrell tries to go through the middle, then Te’o. Some points from this would be very nice …

9.18am BST

37 mins: What. A. Try! Williams steps inside in his own 22 and arcs his way up the middle. He’s looking around him, he gets to halfway and offloads to Davies. Davies passes on to Daly, who looks to go in, then out, then back inside to Davies, who has O’Brien – where did he come from! – on his inside to splash over. What. A. Try! Farrell pulls his conversion though.

9.16am BST

35 mins: Watson can’t gather Barrett’s high kick cleanly but Farrell has it, Murray goes high but Barrett takes it from Watson.

9.15am BST

34 mins: Barrett from the tee, wide on the left but not quite from the touchline … and through it goes.

9.14am BST

33 mins: Lienert-Brown is not a bad replacement though.

9.13am BST

32 mins: Cruden hangs it up and Retallick taps it back. Kaino goes hard at Faletau and Read wriggles away and finds Crotty … Aaron Smith milks the penalty from George but Barrett kicks … Murray calls for the mark so we’re back for the penalty. Crotty is limping off here.

9.11am BST

31 mins: Farrell finds touch, the Lions move in to the New Zealand 22 after the lineout, New Zealand think they’ve stolen it but it’s a penalty. Farrell will go for goal. It’s there – the Lions needed that.

9.10am BST

29 mins: Faletau takes it and the Lions have a penalty advantage. Farrell finds Daly with a crosskick. His gathered it … but he can’t get the pass away – had he seen Williams behind him the full-back was away. As it is we’re coming back for the penalty. Another chance goes begging.

9.08am BST

28 mins: Ben Smith is off for a HIA – which means Barrett goes to 15 and Cruden to 10. Dagg comes in to first receiver and looks for Ioane on the left wing. It’s just overcooked though. Lions lineout.

9.07am BST

27 mins: The Lions have it back and this looks promising, they’re approaching the Lions 22 but Jones spills the ball. Retallick nearly gets through – Aaron Smith’s kick is charged down by Furlong! But he can’t gather the ball, he’s knocked it on. Scrum-time.

9.05am BST

26 mins: There’s a break in play while George receives treatment. He’s good to go though and he’ll take the lineout. The Lions badly need the next score. George finds Jones, Te’o gets nowhere so Farrell kicks high.

9.03am BST

25 mins: Barrett finds touch near the Lions 10 metre line after a short break. Taylor hits Read again but SBW loses the ball in contact and Murray kicks into space. Barrett is under pressure but stays cool. Aaron Smith eventual clears long with a superb kick.

9.01am BST

23 mins: It’s a Lions scrum … Farrell is hit hard by SBW. This is a rare bit of possession for the Lions before Murray goes high again. Again the Lions get it back … but they’ve shipped a penalty. Too many of those.

8.58am BST

21 mins: New Zealand have been ominously good so far and Kruis has been stripped. Barrett spills it though – the Lions needed that.

8.57am BST

20 mins: Free-kick against Furlong, Read goes quickly and now Ben Smith is stepping … Moody carries strongly and the All Blacks are up to the 22. The Lions are under increasing pressure. Jones makes an important tackle on Read but Kruis gives the penalty away. Aaron Smith goes quickly and the ball is worked to Taylor out on the right wing … and he’s over! Barrett knocks over a fine conversion from the touchline.

8.53am BST

16 mins: The All Blacks have a scrum after disrupting the Lions there. They’ll be happy with that.

8.53am BST

15 mins: Ben Smith takes the restart and Aaron Smith clears to touch near halfway. George finds Jone but the Lions can’t get the drive going.

8.51am BST

14 mins: Barrett makes no mistake. New Zealand have already made four offloads by the by. Lions defenders must go a bit higher.

8.50am BST

13 mins: New Zealand take the lineout quickly, this is relentless. Kaino carries hard, then SBW. Cane tries to step Faletau, then Retallick has a bust before the Lions are pinged for offside. Barrett will go at goal.

8.49am BST

12 mins: The All Blacks are getting closer … Barrett looks for Ioane with a delicate chip wide but Watson takes a superb catch.

8.48am BST

11 mins: New Zealand have numbers on the left and are slowly making ground. SBW goes up the guts as Te’o makes a firm tackle on Barrett.

8.48am BST

10 mins: Here comes the Lions maul after O’Mahony takes the lineout again. Murray kicks again but Dagg takes this one cleanly.

8.46am BST

9 mins: Farrell fizzes a pass to Daly on the left touchline. Murray goes to the skies again, Ben Smith can’t take it. Another excellent kick from Murray so the Lions have it back. That’s a risky pass from Furlong though – and it doesn’t come off. Aaron Smith chips over the top so the Lions get away with that mistake.

8.44am BST

7 mins: Aaron Smith puts the ball in, and out it comes. SBW and Crotty bosh up the middle, Smith wriggles free but the Lions have turned it over and Farrell boots it into space. Dagg then finds touch.

8.42am BST

5 mins: Barrett takes it so New Zealand have it in the middle of the field. Barrett tries a grubber, it hits Murray’s legs but Barrett’s pick-up is ridiculous. There’s a knock-on so we’ll have a scrum. And breathe.

8.41am BST

4 mins: Taylor hits Read with the lineout. Aaron Smith box-kicks and Daly takes it but gets smashed back. The ball is out though and Vunipola carries before Murray kicks clear.

8.40am BST

3 mins: No try! Fantastic scramble defence by Dagg, who got Daly into touch. Just Very encouraging for the Lions though and New Zealand are under pressure with a lineout five metres out. Whitelock takes it under pressure but the Lions are offside.

8.38am BST

2 mins: Te’o charges up from the lineout, the Lions are up to the New Zealand 10 metre line … Davies ghosts up the middle! He’s got Murray on his inside! Murray can’t quite get there though. But Daly thinks he might be over in the corner! We’ll go up stairs …

8.37am BST

1 min: Here we go then … Barrett gets us going and Faletau takes the ball cleanly. Murray box-kicks and Watson gives chase. A sign of things to come? No one takes it cleanly but Aaron Smith gives away a penalty and Farrell finds touch.

8.34am BST

Time for the New Zealand national anthem, Gatland opts against singing. Probably best. Now the haka, led by Perenara. Magnificent.

8.30am BST

And now here are the All Blacks … looking a little more relaxed than the Lions it must be said. The opening few minutes of this are going to be ludicrously fierce. Not long to go now …

Rieko Ioane is smiling from ear to ear. What were you doing when you were 20?

8.28am BST

Here come the Lions, led by O’Mahony – Sean O’Brien looks like someone has just told him his favourite tractor is broken.

8.26am BST

Here are your teams once more:

New Zealand: B Smith; I Dagg, R Crotty, SB Williams, R Ioane; B Barrett, A Smith; J Moody, C Taylor, O Franks, B Rettalick, S Whitelock, J Kaino, S Cane, K Read (capt).

8.23am BST

Drink responsibly ladies and gents …

Because drinking in your pyjamas on a Saturday morning is an ideal start to the weekend, here’s the #LionsDrinkingGame#LionsNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/jNVfXHyfM3

8.22am BST

Just over 10 minutes until kick-off, time to set myself up for a fall. New Zealand to win by more than a score …

8.19am BST

COIN TOSS: @lionsofficial have won the toss and decided the #AllBlacks will kick off.#NZLvBIL #LionsNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/iKmjX4HRVg

8.16am BST

Some more pre-match reading for you, from yours truly, on Peter O’Mahony – British & Irish Lions captain.

Related: Peter O’Mahony’s rise to Lions captaincy offers perfect tribute to mentor Foley | Gerard Meagher

8.15am BST

A couple of late tries for Australia have seen the Wallabies home against Italy 40-27.

Sky Sports has gone montage crazy, meanwhile, I can’t stop putting bets on …

7.55am BST

A wee bit of a bad language in this, but worth a watch nonetheless …

@gerard_meagher I’m sure PO’M’ last words to the team will be short & impacting bit MJ in 2001 https://t.co/FzjExVlUMN

7.53am BST

From the looks of things it’s been a fine day in Auckland, maybe the odd shower or two, but that will suit the All Blacks. It is probably a bit simplistic to bill this as attack against defence but there is little doubting New Zealand want an open game, the Lions a set-piece focused, territorial battle.

7.51am BST

Well that settles it …

Decisive prediction from a Lions insider… #NZBIL pic.twitter.com/MZ2dOc3wxh

7.49am BST

Time for a bit more reading to whet the appetite – here’s how our columnist Nick Evans thinks things may pan out …

Related: Attack the All Black pack and the Lions can turn pressure on Barrett up to 10 | Nick Evans

7.46am BST

By the by, there are less than 10 minutes to go in Australia’s clash with Italy. Australia lead just 28-27 … woof!

You can follow that one here …

Related: Wallabies v Italy, and more: Australia sportwatch – live!

7.40am BST

Hello!

And welcome to the first Test of the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

Related: Lions carry hope against history in their crazy endeavour to beat the All Blacks | Andy Bull

12.07pm BST

Gerard will be here soon.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jun/24/new-zealand-v-lions-first-test-live

Jun 22

Warren Gatland’s five big calls for the Lions’ first Test against All Blacks | Gerard Meagher

The head coach is rolling the dice with key personnel decisions, but starting Leigh Halfpenny and Maro Itoje on the bench are gambles that may backfire

Considering the form in which he finished the season – not to mention how he performed in New Zealand last summer – Liam Williams’s selection is hardly a huge surprise but it still came somewhat out of the blue seeing as he played all 80 minutes against the Chiefs. He has a running threat not posed by Leigh Halfpenny but still, the 2013 player of the series can count himself unlucky. Halfpenny has been rock solid so far – even if Gatland has repeatedly said he needs more than that from his back three to beat New Zealand – but perhaps most significantly he has been flawless from the tee. Owen Farrell has been successful with five of his eight kicks and while Elliot Daly can take the long ones dropping Halfpenny is a gamble from Gatland, especially considering the fly‑half’s recent injury scare.

Related: Warren Gatland opts for form not reputation in first Test against All Blacks

Related: How defence expert Dave Ellis switched sides to become All Blacks’ Lion tamer | Gerard Meagher

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/22/warren-gatland-five-big-calls-lions-first-test-all-blacks

Jun 22

How defence expert Dave Ellis switched sides to become All Blacks’ Lion tamer | Gerard Meagher

Dave Ellis was rejected for a coaching role by 2005 Lions so the then Gloucester coach threw in his lot with the All Blacks, who coasted to a 3-0 series win

If the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2005 is best summed up as a circus then perhaps Clive Woodward’s lingering regret is overlooking the self-styled “lion tamer”.

Woodward decided against handing a place on his staff to the defence coach Dave Ellis, who subsequently became the Englishman working for the enemy – seconded by Graham Henry to help the All Blacks before their 3-0 series win. “It was satisfying because I was disappointed to be overlooked by the Lions,” Ellis says. “On the flight home I wore a T-shirt that my brother had sent me which said ‘lion tamer’ on the back – it didn’t go down very well.”

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/22/dave-ellis-all-blacks-lions-tamer-new-zealand

Jun 20

Chiefs 6-34 Lions: tour match – as it happened

Jack Nowell scored two tries in an emphatic win for the Lions who now head to Auckland for the first Test with a spring in their step

10.52am BST

And that’s about it from me. Do join me for the first Test on Saturday, it’s shaping up as one not to be missed.

Cheerio!

10.51am BST

“We always said that we felt we’d get better the longer the tour went on,” says Gatland. “It was a really important result for those players who had been in front in the first two midweek games and let them slip.

Asked what pleased him most, he says: “No tries [against], we squeezed them and then we score a few good tries. We’re starting to finish a little bit and that’s from time together.

10.40am BST

Here’s the match report from our man on the ground …

Related: Jack Nowell stars as Lions overpower Chiefs to maintain tour momentum

10.33am BST

It’s important to keep things in perspective – this was a very youthful Chiefs side – but the improvements made by the Lions, the more time they spend together are clear. The combinations are really coming together and a couple of lovely tries sends them to Auckland with plenty of confidence.

10.27am BST

A comprehensive win in the end for the Lions, their first in midweek, with a couple of lovely tries to put the gloss on it. Again, it was a victory based on set-piece dominance and their rapid line speed against a young Chiefs side without their internationals.

Nowell and Daly both shone on the wings, Lawes, Haskell and Cole all performed well. It’s unlikely anyone will squeeze into the starting XV but there may be a place on the bench for Daly, Nowell or even Williams who was impressive at full-back.

10.24am BST

80 mins: The Lions have turned it over though and Biggar wallops up field. The Chiefs come again though and win the penalty. There’s some afters involving Best and Messam … we’re back underway with the Chiefs still knocking on the door. Cole makes the turnover though and Williams hacks the ball out. Cole showing his stamina there.

10.21am BST

79 mins: The Chiefs are nothing if not stubborn and are continuing to come from deep. Elliot makes a bit of ground and they have the penalty. It’s taken quickly, Messam carries them up to near the Lions 22.

10.20am BST

78 mins: Payne is off so Daly is back on … Lawes produces another monstrous tackle on the left. Elliot carries for the Chiefs but Haskell has pinched the ball. Williams chips, but knocks on.

10.18am BST

77 mins: Nanai-Williams breaks the line, near his line. He’s shackled but the Chiefs have a scrum after the ball pings around on the ground.

10.15am BST

75 mins: Stevenson breaks the first tackle but can’t get clear near the Lions 22. Th Lions have turned it over though … Williams bursts up the middle and Seymour gets away. Surely another one – nope. Seymour ran a great line but his pass to Payne on the left was dreadful and went to ground.

10.13am BST

73 mins: It’s in and out and Seymour comes in off the left wing. Cole and Lawes with strong carries but Laidlaw has been caught in possession.

10.12am BST

72 mins: Lawes takes the lineout and Tipuric spots a gap and nearly gets away. It’s a bit scrappy over on the left touchline, the Chiefs have knocked it on though so it’s another Lions scrum.

10.10am BST

70 mins: The Lions’ scrum has been dominant today and they’ve won another penalty so Biggar can kick clear to touch. Cole will have enjoyed that.

10.08am BST

69 mins: Donald takes the Chiefs into the 22 but Haskell – who has been excellent defensively – forces the knock-on. Cole is down with an injury meanwhile … the replay shows it was a pretty horrible attempt at a tackle from Brown, who can consider himself lucky to still be on the pitch.

10.08am BST

68 mins: The Chiefs have made a lot of ground after the ball goes into the scrum and out – Messam is on and he carries over halfway. It’s a penalty and the Chiefs go quickly.

10.06am BST

67 mins: The Chiefs have a scrum to get us going again … but it’s going to be reset.

10.04am BST

66 mins: Brown is back on for the Chiefs as Stevenson tries to go from deep again. Play is stopped as Alaimalo goes to ground with an injury.

10.02am BST

65 mins: Eventually the ball is kicked though, it’s a short one and Nowell picks it off, fires the ball to the onrushing Williams who arcs towards the right-hand corner and finds Payne supporting him … try!

10.01am BST

63 mins: Stander carries up the middle, then Best … Cole carries but Biggar knocks on so the Chiefs can breathe again. They’re going through the hands though, edging towards the halfway line.

9.59am BST

62 mins: There’s a Lions scrum over on the left, inside their own half, and it’s a Lions penalty. Biggar punts to touch.

9.58am BST

61 mins: Seymour comes on for Daly – is that possibly a sign that Daly has done enough to suggest he warrants a place on the bench on Saturday?

9.57am BST

60 mins: It’s loose though and Tipuric pounces on it and Daly gets free on the left, he fires a pass into Payne, who finds Henshaw. He’s tackled, but it’s quickly recycled and Nowell dances his way over! That’s a fantastic try, the sort that has proved elusive for the Lions so far on this tour!

9.55am BST

58 mins: The Chiefs have another penalty, this time Stander is the culprit. Lawes is coming back on shortly as Donald finds another touch, quite conservative but it’s a Chiefs lineout deep in the Lions 22 nonetheless.

9.53am BST

57 mins: Biggar clears to touch after the restart but Tiatia fires in a quick lineout and the Chiefs have a penalty – Best with hands in the ruck. Donald wastes little time firing the ball to touch so it’s a Chiefs lineout on the Lions 22.

9.51am BST

55 mins: Best goes short with the lineout and Stander comes on the short side. He can’t get there but Stander was able to pop the ball back inside so the Chiefs took it out – as you were, another Lions lineout after some handbags. Best foes short to Tipuric again … the maul gets over the line, Henderson can’t groud the ball … but it’s a penalty try!

Brown is shown a yellow card for his troubles too.

9.48am BST

52 mins: Best finds Lawes this time and the maul makes a few metres. The Lions have advantage and we’ll come back for it. Biggar goes for the corner as Lawes goes off for a HIA, on comes Alun Wyn Jones. Interesting that it’s Jones and not Cory Hill coming on …

9.46am BST

51 mins: Laidlaw shows and goes and Donald gives away the penalty at the ruck. Donald isn’t happy about it but Biggar has the chance to go for the corner nonetheless. Marler’s head is being bandaged but it looks like he’s playing on.

9.44am BST

49 mins: Stevenson tries to hack the ball clear though and the Chiefs are looking dangerous on the counterattack until Christie loses it forward. The Lions have it and regroup but that was a demonstration of what the Chiefs are capable of with quick turnover ball. Biggar eventually clears with Marler receiving treatment.

9.42am BST

47 mins: The Lions put plenty of pressure on the Chiefs’ scrum before Donald clears as far as Williams. Henderson carries, then Lawes. Stander makes a few metres on the left before Williams is hit hard. Henshaw comes off a short line … Lions racking up the phases again.

9.40am BST

45 mins: Biggar finds touch but again Best’s lineout is not straight.

9.40am BST

44 mins: The maul rolls on for a few metres before Laidlaw goes to the skies. Williams has it on the left but holds on to it rather than look outside to Daly. Biggar then goes high, Tiatia take it but the Chiefs are pinged for blocking. That was precisely the kind of thing the Lions have been talking about this week so they’ll be very pleased Garces has picked up on it.

9.38am BST

43 mins: Tiatia runs hard at the heart of the Lions’ defence but Stevenson’s wide pass has too much on it and it flies over Fa’auli’s head. Best has an early chance to make amends and hits Lawes …

9.36am BST

41 mins: Donald gets us going again. The Lions have a lineout but Best’s throw is not straight. A frustrating start to the second half. Chiefs scrum.

9.35am BST

It hasn’t been completely error-free from the Lions though and a few needless penalties have been given away. They’ll want to tidy that up and take their chances in the second half …

9.26am BST

A positive half for the Lions, summed up best perhaps by the fact that they will be a bit disappointed to only be seven points up at the break. Daly and Nowell – both encouraged to stake a claim for the Test squad – are doing exactly that on each wing, Nowell coming up with the only try of the match so far.

The Lions’ dominance is based on the defence and their set-piece dominance but with the weather set fair they are playing some decent stuff too. Williams has knocked a couple on but he was instrumental in the buildup to the try. Lawes has picked up from where he left off – disrupting the Chiefs lineout which is misfiring badly.

9.23am BST

40 mins: Christie gets away temporarily but then flings a loose pass back to to Donald. The Chiefs have the penalty though and Donald will go for goal. It’s another in front of the posts and Donald makes no mistake.

9.21am BST

39 mins: Bird knocks the lineout back to Christie but he’s smothered by Stander. Donald reis to chip but the Lions collect and come left through Williams. The Chiefs are awarded a penalty at the breakdown though – Marler the guilty party.

9.19am BST

37 mins: Sanders picks up, Biggar makes the tackle but it was not legal so Donald clears.

9.18am BST

36 mins: It’s a good touch and Best hits Henderson. Here comes the drive … it’s creeping towards the corner, but they can’t quite get there, the Chiefs hold it up. Scrum time again, the Chiefs to put in five metres from their own line.

9.16am BST

34 mins: Donald is hit hard by Biggar and spills it, the end result after a scrappy sequence is a Lions penalty. It’s within range but Biggar goes for the corner …

9.14am BST

32 mins: Nowell steps inside to make a few yards, then Lawes carries strongly, and Haskell … he can’t offload to Laidlaw though and the move breaks down when Williams spills a long pass from Payne. Another scrum.

9.12am BST

30 mins: Nanai-Williams spills it for the Chiefs this time, so it’s another scrum for the Lions. Just inside their own half, on their right.

9.11am BST

29 mins: Lions lineout and Biggar pops a fine inside pass to Daly … the Chiefs force the knock-on though with a fine tackle from Bolshier.

9.10am BST

28 mins: Stevenson brings the Chiefs down the left but the ball is loose and Lawes dives on, the Lions comes down their left, Payne grubbers before Christie clears well.

9.08am BST

26 mins: The lineout goes to pieces again though. It’s knocked on so we’ll have a Lions scrum. It’s in an out, Laidlaw goes right, Williams gets a bit of space and Nowell makes ground down the right. It’s worked back towards the left – Biggar steps back inside but he’s a couple of metres short. The Lions have advantage but they don’t need it – Nowell pounces over the ruck and splashes over!

9.05am BST

24 mins: Daly tries to get free but Lawes is hit hard and knocks it on. Back comes Marler and Haskell, off goes Dell. The Chiefs clear but Williams carries the ball back … Henshaw’s attempted grubber goes straight out though.

9.03am BST

23 mins: Christie tries to get away after the Chiefs gather the restart at the second attempt. The Lions’ defence is formidable though and a knock-on gives the Lions a scrum on the Chiefs’ 22.

9.01am BST

22 mins: It’s another one in front of the posts and Donald sends it through the middle.

9.00am BST

21 mins: It’s a Chiefs lineout on the 22, this one is clean and Fa’auli has another hard carry. Lawes is pinged and the Chiefs will go for goal.

8.59am BST

19 mins: Stander takes the restart but Laidlaw’s clearance is charged down. The Chiefs approach the 22 as Donald grubbers for Stevenson … but Williams covers well.

8.58am BST

18 mins: It is comfortable for Biggar and the Lions double their lead.

8.57am BST

17 mins: Tipuric takes the lineout near halfway … the maul’s going backwards but Laidlaw slips Daly away on the left. He throws the dummy but Alaimalo does not bite. The Chiefs’ lineout misfires again though and the Lions earn other straightforward looking penalty, should be comfortable for Biggar.

8.55am BST

15 mins: Payne is packing down at flanker, but the Lions win the scrum penalty. Payne and Dell will both have enjoyed that immensely.

8.53am BST

14 mins: Donald finds another great touch deep in the Lions’ 22. The Chiefs’ lineout has been ropey so far but they’ve taken this one cleanly. The Lions have disrupted the maul though and held it up – Stander with some fine work there.

It’s a scrum so Allan Dell is on temporarily for Haskell – the first of the six reinforcements to get some game-time.

8.48am BST

13 mins: Henderson rips the ball but Garces is having a look at a potential tackle without the ball by Marler … it doesn’t look great. It’s on the tighthead Laulala. And it’s a yellow card.

It was late, it was with the shoulder, it’s the right call. The replay of the Pulu’s break shows it was Lawes who brought him down with the tap tackle. More fine work from the Northampton and England lock. It looks like Pulu is going to have to go off as a result …

8.47am BST

12 mins: Laidlaw clears with a box-kick, it’s not great in terms of distance though. The Chiefs are a touch fortunate to keep hold of the ball on their lineout but Pulu almosts gets through on the left. The ball goes to ground but the Chiefs are still coming.

8.44am BST

10 mins: It’s in front of the posts, Biggar can’t really miss, and he doesn’t.

8.44am BST

9 mins: the phases are racking up, as Nowell pops up on the left, slowly the Lions are edging closer. Standers barges up the middle, then Haskell … the Lions have the advantage, Williams drops a poor pass from Biggar but back we’ll come for the penalty.

8.42am BST

7 mins: Henshaw runs straight, then Daly tries to wriggle through on the right. Nowell has a go, gets through the first tackle and offloads to Haskell. They’re up to the 22, out on the left.

8.41am BST

6 mins: Stevenson puts a pretty rank kick out on the full after a nice take and carry from Alaimalo. The end result is a Lions lineout on the Chiefs’ 10-metre line.

8.40am BST

5 mins: Scrum to the Lions near halfway after Tipuric held the carrier up, ably supported by Henderson. Laidlaw puts in, Stander is told to use it and out it comes eventually. The Lions lost a bit of ground there though.

8.38am BST

3 mins: Donald finds a excellent touch, but Lawes pinches the lineout and Biggar clears to touch … just. Really good from Lawes, picking up from where he left off.

8.37am BST

2 mins: The Chiefs have advantage, Donald produces a delightful kick to the corner, but we’ll come back for the penalty. It was for Christie being taken in the air, I think by Henshaw.

8.35am BST

1 min: Biggar gets us up and running, and it’s a great chase from Daly who smashes Christie. Donald clears well though so a Lions lineout on halfway.

8.33am BST

Here the players come, Lions first, led out by Best. And here come the Chiefs – Donald is their captain on the day.

Time for the Chiefs’ haka … with no little feeling, led by Elliot. Here we go …

8.26am BST

Jerome Garces is the man in the middle tonight. He takes charge of the second Test in Wellington so how he officiates the scrum, among a number of other things, will be fascinating. Jaco Peyper and Romain Poite are running the lines – the referees for the first and third Tests respectively.

8.23am BST

Captain. An OBE no less.

4 – @RoryBest2 has won 4 turnovers for @lionsofficial in 105 mins of action, an avg of one every 26 mins, no player has won more. Captain. pic.twitter.com/oO5kWx5Sfv

8.18am BST

The Chiefs may be missing a fair few players today but Toni Pulu is on their side, here’s a rather special try he scored earlier this season against the Stormers.

8.15am BST

It’s going to be a full house at the FMG Stadium …

Warm up underway under 30 minutes until kickoff! #CHIvBIL #LionsNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/mNo2wZ7AXZ

8.06am BST

Gatland confirms that it is still possible for players to force their way into Saturday’s 23, and reveals Alun Wyn Jones is on the bench to protect his Test back row. He’s also desperate to see his side prevail today.

“A win is the most important thing for this side, we’ve been in front in the midweek games and we haven’t been able to finish it off so the main thing is to get a W on the board,” says Gatland.

8.00am BST

Defeat for the Lions today would hardly be a fatal blow to their Test series chances but there is still plenty on the line today. Win and Gatland is justified in calling up the six players that he did and the confidence that has come with the resounding victory over the Maori continues. Defeat and it will be another half-a-step backwards after one forwards on Saturday.

Gatland is in his home today of course so there’s no extra motivation needed for him.

7.52am BST

Some pre-match reading for you now, with Andy Farrell pledging that ‘we’re going to have to take ourselves to a place we’ve not been to before’ …

Related: Andy Farrell says the Lions are brimming for a big challenge

7.45am BST

Hello!

And welcome to the sixth match of the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.

1.38am BST

Gerard will be here shortly. Whilst you wait, catch up on why Peter O’Mahony is fast emerging as the surprise frontrunner to lead the British & Irish Lions in Saturday’s first Test against New Zealand …

Related: Peter O’Mahony may lead Lions in first Test against All Blacks

Related: Maro Itoje hot off the press and a must for British & Irish Lions Test | Paul Rees

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jun/20/chiefs-v-lions-tour-match-live-new-zealand

Jun 17

England’s depleted juniors scent another world title against New Zealand

Dean Ryan’s under-20s, led by the promising Zach Mercer, are chasing a fourth crown in five years despite key players having been called up by the senior side

After a moment of magic against South Africa from Zach Mercer, the captain, booked England Under-20s’ place in Sunday’s Junior World Cup final in Tbilisi, comparisons with their football counterparts were inevitable – they were not, however, wholly accurate. England’s football team winning any form of World Cup understandably commands attention but this is a fifth final in a row for a side who set out without five players away with Eddie Jones’s senior side in Argentina.

Oval ball success is sustained by England at this level and, while a rampant New Zealand stand between them and a fourth title in five years, the number of absentees makes their achievement of reaching the final in Georgia all the more impressive. Mercer’s omission by Jones for the Argentina tour was surprising but the Australian still took with him Tom and Ben Curry, Nick Isiekwe, Joe Cokanasiga and Jack Maunder. England have also suffered six injuries to their backs during the tournament in Georgia while Will Evans and Jamie Shillcock were ruled out before it started.

Related: Sam Underhill to make England debut in Argentina as Chris Robshaw returns

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/17/england-juniors-new-zealand-world-under-20-rugby

Jun 14

Steve Hansen picks strong New Zealand side for Samoa warm-up match

• Aaron Smith picked at scrum-half to face Samoa, in favour of TJ Perenara
• Sonny Bill Williams to make first All Blacks appearance since 2015 World Cup

Warren Gatland, look away now. After preparations for the Test series against New Zealand were dented, if not derailed, by a second midweek defeat, the size of the task awaiting the British & Irish Lions has come sharply into focus with Steve Hansen naming the strongest All Blacks side available to face Samoa on Friday.

Aaron Smith’s selection at scrum-half, in favour of the in-form TJ Perenara, is perhaps the most eye-catching choice considering his slump last year while the Barrett brothers – Beauden, Scott and Jordie – may make history as the first set of three siblings to play in the same New Zealand side, if the latter two come off the bench. What strikes most about Hansen’s side, however, is the heavy artillery it contains. It is ostensibly a fixture for New Zealand – who have not played together since last November – to get rid of any lingering rust but increasingly, and considering the Lions have lost two of their four matches so far, it presents the opportunity to make a statement.

Related: What the Lions must do: face down the intensity and start taking chances | The Breakdown

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/14/steve-hansen-new-zealand-samoa

Jun 07

Blues 22-16 Lions: tour match – as it happened

Ihaia West’s stunning late try for the Blues condemned the British & Irish Lions to their first defeat of the 2017 tour of New Zealand

11.01am BST

And that is just about that from me. Do join me on Saturday for the Crusaders for the Lions. Cheerio!

10.59am BST

Related: Lions slip to disappointing defeat to Blues after stunning Ihaia West try

Gerard Meagher on what the result means for Gatland

Related: Defeat leaves Warren Gatland little time to instil identity into Lions | Gerard Meagher

10.54am BST

It was a big improvement since Saturday, we were close but the number of penalties hurt us,” says Gatland. “It cost us momentum in the game. There were a lot of positives, some of our set-piece was good. We’ll hopefully address that in the next few days.

“We’ve played some positive stuff. You have to try and continue and create momentum and we lost that with the penalties. And you have to stop their offload game and defensively we’ll work on that as well.

10.42am BST

The Blues captain James Parsons backs the Lions to keep improving as the tour goes on but saying, “we thought it would be like playing a South African side” is hardly a compliment.

10.38am BST

Owens is asked where the Lions lost the game and his first word is “Discipline.”

“At the moment it’s our error count that is letting us down. Defensively we brought some good line speed. Our attacking shape was definitely better. It’s disappointing but we’re going in the right direction.

10.35am BST

Not what the doctor ordered for the Lions, who were carved apart a couple of times there. West’s try was wonderful, as was Ioane’s in the first half. The Lions were dominant at the set-piece but it wasn’t enough, and you get the feeling it won’t be as this tour continues.

Their penalty count was too high as well but they seemed to earned their shot at redemption at the death there. Best’s lineout misfired though. I have only seen it once but it looked like he snatched at it and he has form in that regard. The Lions’ failure to take advantage there will perhaps disappoint Gatland mosts.

10.32am BST

80 mins: The Blues are running down the clock now, one-out rugby, keeping hold of the ball and there’s 30 seconds to go. It’s a penalty to the Lions though! Sexton kicks to the corner …

Best with the throw … and it’s lost! The game is up for the Lions.

10.30am BST

79 mins: West finds a conservative touch, very conservative so the Blues will have a lineout on their 22. The Blues go to the tail and Luatua takes it. Bristol have some player on their hands.

10.28am BST

77 mins: The Lions come again and are up to the 22. Williams gets thumped backwards but Nowell is wriggling on the right. Laidlaw is on and he takes the Lions up to give metres short, under the posts but the Lions have coughed up the penalty and that may have been the chance.

10.26am BST

75 mins: No penalty at the scrum this time but Sexton goes high … Collins takes an excellent catch and just seconds later the Blues have scored a remarkable try. SBW made the initial break up the middle and then offloads to West, who arcs his way under the posts. Wow. West converts and the Lions need a converted try.

10.23am BST

72 mins: The Lions keep the ball in hand, safe in the knowledge the Blues have already knocked it on. The Blues have it but the Lions have turned it over and Sinckler and Itoje are loving it.

10.21am BST

71 mins: Halfpenny is on target again from the right, on the 10-metre line. And the Lions lead with less than 10 minutes to go.

10.20am BST

69 mins: Owens’ lineout to Lawes is not straight but the Blues have to withstand the scrum. Best is on for Owens. Penalty to the Lions … Marler and Sinckler enjoyed that one.

10.17am BST

67 mins: Daly kicks on the run, it’s nearly good but the rolling ball goes out of play. Gauzere was playing advantage though. Daly takes the penalty and Williams is back for the Lions.

10.15am BST

66 mins: Halfpenny makes no mistake … and it’s back to two points. Williams is back shortly, the Lions can take a lot of heart from that. Provided they don’t panic they should be OK.

10.14am BST

64 mins: The Lions are going wing to wing here but the Blues are comfortable enough. SBW makes a great tackle, let’s not forget how little union he’s played since the 2015 World Cup, but the Lions have a penalty in front of the posts.

10.13am BST

63 mins: The Lions have it just inside the Blues half. Daly is trying to get clear down the left. Stander carries up the middle for a couple of yards.

10.11am BST

62 mins: A bit of respite for the Lions with another scrum penalty. Let’s not forget that the Blues really do have a habit of losing leads in the last quarter.

10.10am BST

60 mins: The Lions are in a scrap here. They need to dig deep and pull something out. Ioane thinks he’s over in the corner again but it’s pulled back for a forward pass. That’s his third disallowed try of the night. Steve Hansen is in the crowd and will be mightily impressed.

10.07am BST

58 mins: West goes for the corner and the Blues will go for the jugular. Pulu fizzes a pass in the Lions 22. The Lions are defending resolutely but they have knocked it on. Scrum to the Blues.

10.06am BST

57 mins: Pulu launches to the skies and Duffie and Williams collide in the air again. Duffie comes off worse again and Gauzere will have a look at it. Williams does hit him again but it looks a very fair contest … laws are laws though and it’s a yellow card for Williams for a repeated infringement.

10.03am BST

56 mins: Itoje makes a dent in midfield and the Lions are at the Blues 10-metre line. Henshaw grubbers and the Blues will be under pressure with a lineout not far from their own line but they are defending well.

10.02am BST

55 mins: It’s not a great kick from West but the Blues take the lineout and West looks for the cross-kick which is well-defended by Halfpenny.

10.00am BST

54 mins: The Lions have a penalty, they’re playing advantage and Sexton goes high … ooooh, Williams appears to have taken Duffie in the air. A penalty and no more but that’s still costly for the Lions.

9.58am BST

54 mins: Changes for the Lions.

O’Mahony, Marler and Sinckler on for Haskell, McGrath and Cole.

9.57am BST

52 mins: Penalty to the Blues, given away by Itoje. Too many penalties against the Lions so far. The Blues will go for goal but Perofeta has gone off so it’ll be his replacement Ihaia West to take it. And it’s on target.

9.55am BST

51 mins: Nowell’s day is going from bad to worse. Webb finds him from the scrum but he knocks on so it’ll be a Blues scrum on the Lions 22, out on the left.

9.54am BST

50 mins: Parsons sneaks up the blindside and keeps going and going. Perofera kicks in behind so it’s an early touch for Williams and the Lions scamper. The Blues have it back though and Rieko Ioane gets around Nowell and finds brother Akira. If his offloads goes to hands it’s a try but it doesn’t. A let-off for the Lions.

9.52am BST

48 mins: Lawes takes it, Henshaw has a strong carry and the Lions are making ground until Haskell is stopped in his tracks. Henshaw comes up with a clever kick though and the Blues have a lineout deep in their own half.

Payne limps off so Liam Williams is on.

9.50am BST

47 mins: Webb and Halfpenny bring the ball out of their 22. Webb goes aerial to Rieko Ioane, who is brought down by Cole. Pulu fires a pass into touch … a rare mistake from him.

9.48am BST

45 mins: the Blues come again through SBW, then Pulu and Luatua but the No8 has knocked it on. Scrum to the Lions.

9.47am BST

44 mins: Ioane has wry smile. He’s some player already and he’s 20. Owens to throw in. Itoje takes it and Webb clears to touch. It’s a strong start from the Blues though.

9.46am BST

43 mins: The Blues are just short. Parsons goes close, but Rieko Ioane is over in the corner. It’s a ridiculous pick up on the half-volley and finish in the corner. We’re going upstairs again … that looks a wonderful tackle from Nowell …

No try, and the Lions can breathe.

9.44am BST

41 mins: We’re back under way at the Blues are on the front foot again with a penalty to the corner. The Lions will be hoping to start with confidence like in the first half but they are on the back foot early in the second.

9.35am BST

Well it has been much better by the Lions but for the second match in a row they go in at half-time behind. Whereas they would have got a rocket on Saturday however, it’s more of a case of keep doing what they’re doing really, but cutting out the penalties.

Rhys Webb has been superb at No9, kicking well and ensuring the Lions keep the ball when needs be – something they have been much better at throughout. And they have been on top at both the scrum and the set-piece, Stander’s try coming from a driving maul after a lineout.

Related: The making of an All Black: how New Zealand sustains its rugby dynasty

9.29am BST

40 mins: Sexton goes to the skies and Collins takes it, just about. Perofeta goes high but Halfpenny deals with it well. SBW finds Rieko Ioane on the left but Henshaw defends well. The Blues are pressing before half-time though – and that’s a blatant high tackle from Stander.

Perofeta will go for goal … it hits the upright and SBW has got his hand to the ball and thinks he’s scored. It looks like it’s a knock-on from a Blue just before though …

9.22am BST

39 mins: The Blues have a penalty but Perofeta misses touch. Pulu almost gathers his chip over the top but Owens does well to get his hands on it. It is sheeting down at Eden Park now.

9.20am BST

37 mins: The offside is back where the original kick was taken, so well down inside the Blues 22. It’s a scrum and Nowell has a scamper but the Blues have turned Itoje over. There’s a bit of afters, Akira Ioane and Cole are involved but nothing doing really.

9.18am BST

36 mins: We’ve not seen much of SBW but that’s a superb offload but the Lions defend well and Webb punts downfield so Rieko Ioane kicks … it’s kept in-field by Biggar who loses the ball in the tackle. Ioane streaks clear but Gauzere wants to check for offside. The tackler was a mile offside though so no try.

9.15am BST

34 mins: Better from the Blues but Halfpenny pounces on Perofeta’s grubber and Daly clears. Collins comes forward once more.

9.14am BST

33 mins: The Blues foul up the lineout again and Tipuric earns the Lions the ball back. Webb clears and Collins comes forward again for the Blues, who have another penalty in their own half. Perofeta finds another good touch, this time on the left, but the Blues need their lineout to fire.

9.12am BST

32 mins: Even more pleased with a penalty at the scrum. Faumuina penalised – McGrath gets the better of the All Black on that occasion. The Lions are hammering through the middle but are penalised for cross so Perofeta will go for the corner again. Not quite so aggressive this time.

9.10am BST

29 mins: Hugely aggressive from Perofeta but Daly can’t quite keep it in so the Blues have a lineout five metres out … Parsons goes to the front to Bristol bound Luatua but the Lions defend his pop pass and hold up the maul. Scrum to the Lions, they’ll be pleased about that.

9.08am BST

27 mins: Biggar finds touch so we’ll have a lineout to the Blues near halfway. Biggar has been solid so far, Webb inside him has been excellent but the Blues have a penalty after the Lions are pinged for taking the man in the air.

9.07am BST

26 mins: Akira Ioane has been relatively quiet but he has a carry before Perofeta tries to collect his chip ahead. Daly mops up and Biggar goes to the skies.

9.05am BST

25 mins: A penalty is awarded. Halfpenny will go for goal, no brainer really, he can’t miss. And he doesn’t.

9.04am BST

24 mins: Lawes has a strong carry and the Lions now have a scrum, about 15 metres out, right in the middle of the pitch. A very promising position … what can they make of it?

9.03am BST

22 mins: We’re back with a scrum bang on half way. Webb to put in. Biggar kicks but Collins does well to cover but Webb finds an excellent touch. Duffie takes it quickly but pressure from Daly means the Lions have a lineout on the Blues 22.

9.01am BST

There’s a brief passage in play so here’s a chocolate analogy …

@gerard_meagher The Blues are the flakiest of the NZ franchises but the look as hard as a Toblerone is to bite into.

8.59am BST

20 mins: The Lions clear from the restart through Webb but Collins makes ground. The Blues are stopped in their tracks though when Lawes wallops Perofeta.

8.57am BST

19 mins: Owens goes to Itoje again. Stander has it at the back of the maul … and he’s over. That’s an overdue score for the Lions. Halfpenny slots the conversion comfortably.

8.55am BST

17 mins: Owens goes to Itoje but the Blues hold the Lions’ drive out. Webb has a dart and gets close. The Lions are just a few mertes out. Cole is the next to have a crack, and they have another penalty. Corner again? Yep.

8.54am BST

15 mins: Haskell has a bust up the field. It’s scrappy but the Lions have the ball near the Blues’ 22 again. And they have a penalty. Biggar kicks for the corner. Ooooosh.

8.52am BST

14 mins: Halfpenny fields deep and hits Collins, who produces a better kick to skid the ball into touch and put the Lions under pressure with a lineout on their 22. Tipuric takes Owens’s throw.

8.51am BST

12 mins: The Lions disrupts the lineout but Biggar was on the scene too quickly so the Blues can clear.

8.50am BST

11 mins: Is that a try? The Lions go through the hands from left to right and Payne may be over in the corner … Gauzere is going upstairs. Perofeta is the defender, it’s not a try as far as I can see but it’s not my call …

No try, Payne’s left foot was in touch before grounding the ball. Encouraging for the Lions nonetheless. Itoje showed good hands, Halfpenny came into the line and Daly’s pass to Payne was well-timed.

8.46am BST

10 mins: Blues are under pressure after Perofeta fumbles Pulu’s pass backwards. They have the ball but only a couple of metres from their line. It’s cleared but Halfpenny brings forward and the Lions are up to the 22.

8.45am BST

9 mins: Wow! That’s a second look at Rieko Ioane’s pace and that’s the first try of the match. It comes from a lovely short pass from Faumuina and an even better long one from Pulu and Ioane has too much pace for Nowell. Perofeta’s conversion is nowhere near.

8.43am BST

6 mins: Perofeta kicks wide to Duffie, who almost wriggles clear down the right. Moala has a strong carry and the Blues are on the Lions 22.

8.42am BST

5 mins: Woof. A first look at Rieko Ioane and he has plenty of gas. That all came from another SBW turnover. Needless to say the Blues will be lethal with quick turnover ball. It’s a Blues scrum inside the Lions half.

8.41am BST

4 mins: Ooooof. That was close. Payne is almost over after stabbing a loose ball forward. He runs out of room but this is a much better start from the Lions. Perofeta then tries a cheeky restart … bad idea.

8.39am BST

2 mins: The Lions are going through the phases and they’re inside the Blues 22. 11 phases and counting. Stander runs through Gibson, Lawes has a go but the Blues are defending well. And have turned Haskell over – it was SBW with the intervention.

8.38am BST

1 min: Biggar kicks off, Collins takes it and Pulu clears. Nowell has a dart, then Owens and Nowell again. The Lions have already seen considerably more of the ball than in the first 10 minutes last time.

8.35am BST

First, a minute’s silence for the victims of the attacks in London and Manchester. Impeccably observed.

8.31am BST

Maro Itoje looks, in rugby parlence, “up for it”. Jared Payne too – a former Blue of course.

8.30am BST

Pointless bit of trivia for you while we wait for the Blues to perform their first haka in their 21-year history.

Elliot Daly and Jared Payne become the fourth and fifth players to play for and against the Lions today. Name the other three and there’s a pound in the post for you …

8.28am BST

As I was saying, the heavens have opened at Eden Park …

Nearly time for kick-off in Auckland… #LionsNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/Q99HcTc7XD

8.17am BST

Huge amount of good things about Sky Sports’ coverage of this tour but not sure about this van business. On the whole it strikes me as there’s a preoccupation with making sure the Lions look like they’re having fun, less so on making sure they’re having fun.

But I’m looking from afar and was up very early … how about Ken Owens, eh? Lions debutant and captain, having recovered from injury. Big match for Ken.

8.14am BST

Hmmm. You can see what he means but Will Greenwood, in highlighting the difficulty of this tour, reckons there are eight “unofficial Tests” for the Lions as well as the series v the All Blacks.

There are only seven matches on top of the Test series and Alex Payne subtlely has a dig – “thanks to the part-time maths teacher”. You see what Greenwood is getting at though.

7.51am BST

Hello!

And welcome to the second match of the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand. The matches are coming thick and fast – it was four days ago that the Lions were limping home in Whangarei – and as a result Warren Gatland has made a full XV changes to his side to face the Blues.

11.57am BST

Gerard will be here shortly. While you wait, here’s what the Lions’ assistant coach Rob Howley had to say prior to the Blues game:

I don’t know what Warrenball means. Have we played that over the last few years? I’m not too sure. We need to hold back on certain elements and make sure we put our players under the same fatigue and chaos in training that the All Blacks will do.

Related: Lions battling on two familiar fronts before second tour match against Blues

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jun/07/blues-v-lions-tour-match-live

Jun 02

Matt Mullan stakes England claim as Eddie Jones seeks edge over Argentina

• Wasps loosehead prop is vying for a starting spot in two-Test tour
• Coach has fostered competitive spirit among squad missing 30 players

Matt Mullan is relishing the chance to lock horns with Argentina’s scrum on England’s forthcoming two-Test tour and believes a strong showing against the Pumas may enhance his claim to hold on to the No1 jersey.

With Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola away with the Lions, the Wasps loosehead prop is vying with Ellis Genge for a starting berth against Argentina, traditional heavyweights at the scrum. Of the 30 players unavailable to Eddie Jones 10 are front-rows but the head coach has challenged his current squad to keep those injured or away out of the side when they return.

Related: England’s Sam Underhill takes ‘the new Neil Back’ hype in his stride

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/02/matt-mullan-stakes-england-claim-as-eddie-jones-seeks-edge-over-argentina

Jun 02

Five things to look out for during Lions tour opener v NZ Provincial Barbarians | Gerard Meagher

Ben Te’o’s No12 audition and when Owen Farrell will be used are among the problems on Warren Gatland’s mind for Saturday’s match

Warren Gatland’s team selection makes sense. Thirteen of the 14 who attended the first training camp start and considering all three fly-halves reported for duty the following week, he was always going to have a decision to make, opting for Johnny Sexton. The selection of Ben Te’o at 12 is nonetheless interesting considering he fits the mould of a direct ball-carrier that Gatland likes. We cannot read much into his choices yet but if Gatland wants to pair Sexton and Owen Farrell together at 10 and 12 in the Test series, surely they need as much practice together as possible.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/02/five-things-lions-tour-opener-nz-provincial-barbarians

Jun 01

Denny Solomona winning race to be fit for England’s tour to Argentina

• Sale Sharks wing has been suffering with a foot injury
• Eddie Jones confident player will make plane on Saturday

Eddie Jones is confident Denny Solomona will be fit to win his first cap in Argentina and has challenged the youngsters in his squad to oust England’s British & Irish Lions for good.

Jones rated Solomona as doubtful for the tour less than two weeks ago after he suffered a foot strain in Brighton but he has joined up with the England squad who leave for Argentina on Monday. Injuries to Tommy Taylor and Nick Schonert have taken the number of players unavailable to 30 but Jones believes Solomona is winning his race. “He’s going well, trained well yesterday with no repercussions so he’s progressing nicely. We expect him to go on tour,” said Jones, who has kept Marland Yarde on standby at England’s Teddington base.

Related: England’s Sam Underhill takes ‘the new Neil Back’ hype in his stride

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/01/denny-solomona-winning-race-to-be-fit-england-rugby-union-tour-argentina

May 31

England’s Sam Underhill takes ‘the new Neil Back’ hype in his stride

• Underhill likely to make England Test debut on tour of Argentina
• ‘I try not to get too bogged down with stats – I hate maths’

Sam Underhill said he is unruffled by the expectation to solve England’s perennial problem at openside flanker as he targets a first cap on the tour of Argentina.

Underhill started Sunday’s uncapped match against the Barbarians at No7 and made some impressive tackles before he was withdrawn towards the end of the first half with a shoulder injury.

Related: Sam Underhill has chance to become answer to England’s No7 problem

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/31/england-sam-underhill-hype-argentina-tour

May 30

Jonny Wilkinson warns Lions to keep things simple or risk chaos of 2005

• Wilkinson says Lions can prosper in New Zealand if they heed errors of past
• Tour led by Clive Woodward ended in whitewash and derision

Jonny Wilkinson has labelled the disastrous 2005 British & Irish Lions tour under Clive Woodward as “chaos like I’d never seen before” and warned the class of 2017 to expect a similar thrashing by New Zealand if they make the same mistakes.

Wilkinson and co were hammered 3-0 in the Test series 12 years ago on a widely criticised tour that called into question the future of the Lions. Woodward picked a bloated 44-man squad containing a number of England’s World Cup winners who were past their best and a 26-man support staff, including Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

Related: Woodward and Campbell – a duo mesmerised by self-regard

Related: Jeremy Thrush: opening Lions Test the only chance of win against All Blacks

Related: Remembering the Lions tour of 1971: the great awakening of British rugby | Paul Rees

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/30/jonny-wilkinson-lions-chaos-2005-new-zealand-clive-woodward

May 27

Steffon Armitage urges RFU to change tack on English players overseas

• RFU has stood firm on not picking players based outside England
• Armitage: ‘Players need to feel like they’ve got a right to achieve’

Steffon Armitage has called on the Rugby Football Union to stop punishing English players who move abroad by refusing to select them for international duty, claiming Nick Abendanon, David Strettle and Chris Ashton should be rewarded for taking the plunge overseas.

Armitage also said that despite coming close to a move back to Bath before the 2015 World Cup, and Wasps last summer, he has had no contact from Eddie Jones; the England head coach recently admitted he has only ever been turned down by one player, who is based in France.

Related: Stuart Lancaster should stand firm on Armitage, despite Australia’s change | Dean Ryan

Related: Clermont Auvergne’s Nick Abendanon named European player of the year

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/27/steffon-armitage-urges-rfu-change-tack-english-players-overseas

May 27

Wasps 20-23 Exeter: how the players in the Premiership final rated

Geoff Parling was Exeter’s star man while for Wasps Nathan Hughes, Joe Launchbury and Tommy Taylor were unlucky to be on the losing side

Willie Le Roux, full-back, 7/10 Had shown signs of nerves recently but took his first high ball comfortably and did well to stop Woodburn in full flow. The most accomplished of Wasps’ back three on the day.

Related: Exeter Chiefs champions after epic win over Wasps completes fairytale rise

Related: Exeter and Wasps serve up final thriller to show best of English club rugby | Michael Aylwin

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/27/premiership-final-wasps-exeter-player-ratings

May 27

Sam Underhill has chance to become answer to England’s No7 problem

• Twenty-year-old flanker under spotlight against Barbarians
• ‘He has got a nice mature way about him,’ says Eddie Jones

Not long after Eddie Jones was appointed by England he called a meeting at the RFU to address the dearth of openside flankers. Publicly, he played down the need for a specialist No7 but privately he was lamenting their absence. “I might have said: ‘I can’t see any natural sevens in England,’” recalled Jones this week. Richard Hill, however, had been casting the net further afield.

England’s World Cup-winning flanker, now the team manager but at the time responsible for identifying and developing young players, was aware of Sam Underhill, a former under-18 national captain who had moved to Cardiff to study and join the Ospreys from Gloucester.

Related: ‘Wales has been awesome and I want to leave Ospreys on a high’ | Paul Rees

Related: Eddie Jones ready to pick Sam Underhill for England despite RFU policy

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/27/sam-underhill-england-no7-barbarians-eddie-jones

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