Gerard Meagher

Author's details

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

Latest posts

  1. Manu Tuilagi will play for England in autumn, says Leicester’s Matt O’Connor — August 15, 2017
  2. England’s Eddie Jones discovers risks of lauding ‘laidback boy’ Manu Tuilagi | Gerard Meagher — August 7, 2017
  3. Leigh Halfpenny joins Scarlets to give Wales and Warren Gatland a boost — August 3, 2017
  4. Eddie Jones hands Manu Tuilagi chance to resume England career — August 3, 2017
  5. Sonny Bill Williams ban could be blessing for All Blacks | Gerard Meagher — July 2, 2017

Author's posts listings

Aug 15

Manu Tuilagi will play for England in autumn, says Leicester’s Matt O’Connor

• Eddie Jones was said to be furious after drunken episode with England
• ‘I would be very surprised if it had further ramifications’

The Leicester head coach, Matt O’Connor, believes Manu Tuilagi will play a part in England’s autumn international series despite his recent reprimand for a drunken night out at last week, and suggested he is too valuable a player for Eddie Jones to leave out. O’Connor also hinted Tuilagi’s latest off-field indiscretion was due to his frustration at being limited to rehab work during the England training camp.

Jones was said to be furious with Tuilagi and Denny Solomona after they returned to the team hotel at 4.30am in a drunken state last Monday morning, just hours before the only full contact session of England’s three-day get-together. He sent them home early and it is understood their behaviour will be taken into consideration when Jones picks his next England squad in late September.

Related: England’s Eddie Jones discovers risks of lauding ‘laidback boy’ Manu Tuilagi | Gerard Meagher

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/15/manu-tuilagi-england-autumn-internationals-rugby-union

Aug 07

England’s Eddie Jones discovers risks of lauding ‘laidback boy’ Manu Tuilagi | Gerard Meagher

Injury-plagued centre’s fresh scrape will reveal how much effort national coach is prepared to take with only player he believes can ‘rip apart’ All Blacks

At the end of a mediocre autumn Test series that caused no little concern considering it came less than a year before the 2015 World Cup, Stuart Lancaster was asked what could improve his England side. His answer, as so often the case with Lancaster, was to the point: “Manu”.

Last week Eddie Jones was more effusive with his praise for the only England player capable of “ripping New Zealand apart” – a pointed remark considering the British & Irish Lions’ second Test victory against the All Blacks on 1 July. Jones described Manu Tuilagi as “worth time, worth effort and worth a lot of care” but 72 hours later the Leicester centre, along with Denny Solomona, was leaving England’s pre-season training camp in disgrace. We will soon find out just how much time, effort and care Jones deems the 26-year-old injury-plagued centre to be worth.

Related: Manu Tuilagi’s England return in doubt after drunken night out at camp

Related: Eddie Jones hands Manu Tuilagi chance to resume England career

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/07/manu-tuilagi-england-rugby-eddie-jones

Aug 03

Leigh Halfpenny joins Scarlets to give Wales and Warren Gatland a boost

• Wales full-back signs national dual contract after leaving Toulon
• Halfpenny will be available for 2019 World Cup under selection policy

Leigh Halfpenny has signed a three-year contract with the Scarlets, bringing an end to months of speculation over the Wales and Lions full-back’s future.

Halfpenny has agreed a national dual contract with the Pro12 champions and the Welsh Rugby Union, having reportedly turned down an offer to rejoin Cardiff Blues. Halfpenny, who has also been linked with a move to Wasps, Bath and Leicester, was surprisingly cut loose by Toulon at the end of last season and was facing the prospect of beginning the season without a club.

Related: Eddie Jones hands Manu Tuilagi chance to resume England career

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/03/leigh-halfpenny-joins-scarlets-wales-warren-gatland

Aug 03

Eddie Jones hands Manu Tuilagi chance to resume England career

• Jones names injury-plagued Leicester centre in 37-man training squad
• ‘We are at an incredibly important stage with two years to go to the World Cup’

Manu Tuilagi is the standout inclusion in England’s squad for a three-day training camp this weekend as Eddie Jones casts his eye over the injury-plagued centre before the new season.

Related: RFU’s Ian Ritchie defends decision not to renew England women’s contracts

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/03/rugby-union-england-training-squad-manu-tuilagi

Jul 02

Sonny Bill Williams ban could be blessing for All Blacks | Gerard Meagher

Steve Hansen, New Zealand’s coach, has plenty of potential replacements for the suspended centre for the third Test against the British & Irish Lions

Not long after Warren Gatland had named his British & Irish Lions squad in April Steve Hansen warned his compatriot against trying to replicate Ireland’s method of victory against the All Blacks in Chicago. It will be intriguing to hear if Gatland has any words of wisdom for his rival this week; to hear what he may think of New Zealand looking to bounce back from defeat in the same manner as against Ireland, a couple of weeks later in Dublin.

This is not least because the suspension of Sonny Bill Williams means there is every chance Malakai Fekitoa will return to the All Blacks midfield alongside Anton Lienert-Brown, as he was at the Aviva Stadium.

Related: All Blacks defeats are so rare they make it their duty to learn from them | Andy Bull

Related: Sonny Bill Williams bears brunt of criticism after All Blacks defeat

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/02/sonny-bill-williams-ban-blessing-all-blacks

Jul 02

Lions’ Wellington win stirs memories of 1993 Auckland decider

It was 24 years ago that a Lions win in Wellington was followed by the ‘Black-lash’ at Eden Park, where New Zealand romped to a 30-13 victory

Sean Fitzpatrick recalls it as the worst week of his life while conversely it featured one of the highlights of Warren Gatland’s playing career. It was the seven days between the British & Irish Lions’ 20-7 victory in Wellington in 1993 – until Saturday the last time the tourists have beaten New Zealand – and the subsequent Black-lash at Eden Park. And it comes sharply into focus with all roads leading to Auckland once more.

Fitzpatrick had anticipated a flaying at the hands of the New Zealand press, and so it materialised with a venom that makes clowns look, somewhat fittingly, like child’s play. Gavin Hastings, the Lions captain on that tour, recalled to the Telegraph: “I remember Sean Fitzpatrick telling me after the second Test, ‘Just wait until you read the papers.’ He was right; they tore into the All Blacks and, once they saw that, some of the more inexperienced British journalists and some of the more inexperienced players in the Lions squad thought that was the series wrapped up and we would now have the wind at our backs.”

Related: Lions must beware vengeful All Blacks and their own ill-discipline in decider | Robert Kitson

Related: All Blacks 21-24 Lions: where the second Test was won and lost | Paul Rees

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/02/lions-wellington-win-1993-auckland-decider-rugby-tour

Jul 02

Sonny Bill Williams bears brunt of criticism after All Blacks defeat

• New Zealand media blame Williams and his switching between rugby codes
• Local media say result has breathed life back into world rugby

Home defeats for New Zealand do not happen often, so inevitably the inquest began in earnest not long after Owen Farrell had kept the series alive with his trusty right boot. And unsurprisingly, Sonny Bill Williams is the villain of the piece as far as the New Zealand press is concerned.

His red card after 25 minutes was the key moment in Wellington, but there are few complaints that the centre deserved to be sent off for his shoulder charge on Anthony Watson’s head. So, New Zealand’s best known and most polarising sportsman is copping the flak. “Suddenly Bloody Walking,” Mark Geenty wrote for stuff.co.nz. “What was he thinking? In one of the biggest Tests of his and his team-mates’ careers?”

Related: Even during a rare defeat, the depleted All Blacks looked a formidable force | Gerard Meagher

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/02/sonny-bill-williams-bears-brunt-criticism-all-blacks-defeat

Jul 01

Even during a rare defeat, the depleted All Blacks looked a formidable force | Gerard Meagher

Down to 14 men, Steve Hansen’s side still managed to turn the screw on the Lions, taking the game to them and provoking a high number of errors

Fronting up to the TV cameras cannot be easy after a defeat as dramatic as New Zealand’s against the Lions in Wellington, so all credit to Sam Cane for doing so. As his captain and coach had both done only moments before, Cane spoke with humility but his closing remarks when replying to a question about Saturday’s decider in Auckland – “game on, mate” – were said with a conviction that gave just a glimpse of the Black-lash on the horizon.

Related: Lions win thriller to level series after All Blacks’ Sonny Bill Williams is sent off

Related: ‘I am a happy clown this week,’ says Gatland after Lions beat All Blacks

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/01/all-blacks-lions-defeat-wellington-steve-hansen-sam-cane

Jul 01

New Zealand 21-24 British & Irish Lions: second Test player ratings

The omnipresent Sean O’Brien was there – of course – to catch the last New Zealand kick, while Israel Dagg struggled, especially for the Lions’ first try

Israel Dagg, full-back 5/10 A mixed bag under the high ball in such difficult conditions. Will not be happy when he watches the replay of Faletau’s try, allowing the Lions No8 in far too easily.

Related: Lions win thriller to level series after All Blacks’ Sonny Bill Williams is sent off

Related: ‘I am a happy clown this week,’ says Gatland after Lions beat All Blacks

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/01/new-zealand-21-24-british-irish-lions-second-test-player-ratings

Jul 01

New Zealand 21-24 Lions: second Test – as it happened

Owen Farrell’s late penalty sealed a thrilling victory for the British & Irish Lions to keep the series alive against New Zealand, who had Sonny Bill Williams sent off

10.53am BST

“I’m a pretty happy clown this week,” says Warren Gatland. “We go to Auckland with everything to play for. I thin we were the better team and deserved to win. We gave away dome soft penalties which were disappointing. We need to rectify that.

“When we got the ball in their half we stressed them. With Sonny Bill Williams off it makes it difficult for them but I’m proud that we’re 1-1. But we know what happened in Chicago and what happened the next game after that.”

10.35am BST

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

Related: Lions win thriller to level series after All Blacks’ Sonny Bill Williams is sent off

10.34am BST

“I’m not stunned,” says Steve Hansen. “I’ve always said it’s a very good side but we didn’t help ourselves by losing a player. He made the call, whether it was wrong or right is not the issue. The Lions deserve the win. Happy for them but we’re disappointed. But I’m proud of our guys.”

10.32am BST

Lost in among the celebrations, that inch-perfect clearance from Murray was on the volley. Absolutely outrageous.

10.30am BST

“The Lions were probably the better side,” says Kieran Read. “But we had our chances but got ahead and we couldn’t keep it. We had the energy levels but he couldn’t execute. It sets it up nicely for next week.”

10.28am BST

“Half a job done,’ says Sam Warburton. “It’s great that we got it to 1-1 but we’ve got to win the Test series.”

He also acknowledges the penalty count, which was too high. “The one disappointing thing was the discipline.”

10.28am BST

I’m not quite sure how the Lions have managed to win that but they have inflicted a first defeat on the All Blacks in Wellington for the first time since 2003. Farrell’s kick it was that sealed the victory but they had so little territory in the second half and scored two wonderful tries. Let’s not forget how long New Zealand played with 14 men – a full 55 minutes – but the Lions have levelled the series on a night when defeat would have further called into question their very existence.

10.25am BST

80 mins: A minute to go. Keep it simple and the Lions are home and dry. Ardie Savea is playing like a bull. An absolute bull.

So, it’s a Lions lineout. Inside their 22. First things first, George needs to hit his man. It’s not clean so Murray kicks and it’s worked perfectly. The All Blacks go quickly. Barrett chips but O’Brien has it. The Lions have it. The clock is red. The Lions have won! The Lions have won in Wellington to square the series!

10.22am BST

79 mins: The All Blacks gather the restart. and already they are up to the 22. Ioane looks like he’s got space on the left! but he spills it. Davies hacks on but Barrett brings it back. Cruden goes for the cross-kick. It’s out!

10.20am BST

78 mins: Never in doubt!

10.19am BST

76 mins: The All Blacks are scrummaging with seven … bold but they back themselves. The Lions play it through the hands … and Sinckler is taken out. It’s a penalty. It’s dangerous. He’s tackled in the air and it’s well within Farrell’s range. What a huge kick this is!

10.16am BST

75 mins: Laumape spills it. Farrell looks to kick. He’s charged down but it’ll be a Lions scrum right on the halfway line.

10.15am BST

74 mins: New Zealand have a lineout near the Lions 10-metre line. Read is smashed back but Sinckler. Itoje hits Lienert-Brown. Itoje hits Cruden. The Lions are forcing the All Blacks back.

10.13am BST

72 mins: George throws in ti Faletau and O’Brien crashes up but the Lions are penalised for blocking. A let-off for New Zealand. Silly mistake again.

10.12am BST

71 mins: Discipline! Discipline! Discipline!

Itoje takes the restart cleanly again. The Lions form the maul but it’s going sideways so it goes through the hands. Daly grubbers but Williams is bumped by Cruden so it’s a penalty to the Lions. Not quite within range though so Farrell finds touch.

10.10am BST

70 mins: Davies crashed up to the 22. George breaks the line! Murray grabs it and goes. And he’s over! A fantastic finish. What a break from George and what a try. The Lions are back to within two with a conversion to come … through it goes. All square!

10.09am BST

68 mins: Cruden takes the restart and Barrett finds touch. Not a great deal of distance though, just outside their 22.

10.08am BST

67 mins: Barrett lines it up from inside the 22, to the right. Through it goes. Seven points the gap.

10.06am BST

66 mins: In the ball eventually goes as Laumape barges over the gainline. Cruden grubbers … Iaone can’t quite get there! But we’re back for another penalty.

10.05am BST

64 mins: Smith chips over the top but Daly is there to wallop it down field. It’s too long though and goes all the way out! It means the All Blacks have a scrum on the Lions 22.

Savea is on for Cane.

10.03am BST

63 mins: Itojes the restart, the Lions maul goes nowhere so Murray clears as Watson chases well. Faletau has a bit of a carry as Murray kicks again. Iaone, in off the fields it.

10.02am BST

On comes Sinckler for Furlong.

10.01am BST

62 mins: Huge kick this for Farrell, Right out on the touchline. It’s nowhere near. So the gap is four points.

10.00am BST

60 mins: Nearly another penalty but they play on with the lineout. The ball goes to the right, Watson pins back his ears and darts down the right. It comes back to the left … and Faletau is over. Brilliant try from the Lions! Game on!

Faletau scored a try just like that in New Zealand last year.

9.58am BST

59 mins: Lawes is on for Jones as Sexton restarts. Smith clears to touch.

9.57am BST

58 mins: Barrett finds touch by the Lions 10-metre line. Taylor hits Read. Taylor picks and goes as the All Blacks approach the 22. Barrett goes to the skies, Williams take it but advantage was being played. That’s five penalties given away be the Lions in the second half and here goes Barrett to extend the lead to nine. It’s there.

9.54am BST

56 mins: Davies grubbers, spins out and makes a bit of ground. Smith finds touch but Vunipola is in trouble AGAIN for his clean-out on Barrett. Idiotic again. Surely he’ll go to the sin-bin for this. Indeed he does. So stupid. But Gatland ought to have taken him off by now.

9.52am BST

55 mins: Barrett clears well after a deep restart from Sexton. The Lions have a lineout just inside the New Zealand half. O’Brien crashes up.

9.51am BST

54 mins: Another let-off for the Lions. They could really do with some territory now. Sexton restarts, but Vunipola has taken Barrett late. Idiotic. The Lions only have themselves to blame for this. The TMO is checking it … penalty. Where the ball came down so Barrett gets ANOTHER shot at goal.

Got to think there may be a yellow card in the offing. Time for Gatland to turn to the bench.

9.48am BST

53 mins: Barrett goes for goal again. From the Lions’ 10-metre line. This is a very impressive start to the second half from New Zealand but he’s missed another one.

9.46am BST

51 mins: Lienert-Brown makes ground, then Retallick. Dagg has some room on the left, This is ominous for the Lions … Dagg finds a gap down the middle, Barrett grubbers but Daly is there to cover. Advantage though. Itoje again the offender.

9.45am BST

49 mins: Dagg takes the restart and Barrett goes to the skies, it’s bouncing around and New Zealand have it back. Smith goes to the skies this time but Williams takes a clean catch this time and Farrell kicks loosely.

9.43am BST

48 mins: Big moment for Barrett, in a very similar position to the one he just missed. This time he makes no mistake.

9.42am BST

47 mins: Another penalty for New Zealand after a high tackle from Murray. Very silly. If they don’t cut these stupid mistakes out they’re done for.

9.42am BST

46 mins: Dagg takes the restart but has been held up. It’ll be a scrum, but to New Zealand because it came straight from the kick. Naholo it is this time running at Sexton, Retallick makes yards …

9.39am BST

44 mins: Laumape is making an impact for New Zealand. Time for Te’o? Barrett’s kick is from a fair old distance but it’s pretty straight … Barrett’s pushed it though. That’s another bad miss.

9.38am BST

43 mins: Murray goes to touch with his clearance again but New Zealand win the lineout and feed Laumape again. He crashes towards Sexton and gets over the gainline. New Zealand have advantage for offisde, we’ll come back for it. Itoje it was. Barrett to go for goal again.

9.37am BST

42 mins: Barrett with a clever grubber – it goes into touch but the Lions have a lineout in an area of the field they don’t want to be in. Fast start to the second half from the All Blacks.

9.36am BST

41 mins: Here we go again. Barrett kicks off. Faletau takes it and Murray goes long with his clearance and into touch. New Zealand lineout, cleanly taken. The maul makes a few metres but Smith finds Laumape.

9.34am BST

Wow …

First All Black to be sent off since 1967…

9.34am BST

Cool heads needed in the Lions changing room at half-time. They need to be confident in the second 40, but patient. And they must be accurate. Too many mistakes in the first half, even allowing for the weather.

9.26am BST

Well, well, well. It’s level at the break on the scoreboard, but not in terms of playing numbers after Sonny Bill Williams’ red card. The first thing to say is that the red card was fully warranted – it was a shoulder charge by Williams to the head of Watson.

The match has been cagey, the weather playing its part. The Lions have done a lot of good things but there are a few silly mistakes in there too. They would have taken this position before kick-off though but it is worth reiterating that New Zealand are the best in the world at playing with 14. You get the feeling the Lions need to put them to bed in the second half rather than edge past them.

9.23am BST

40 mins: Correction, it’s a Lions put in as Sexton was held up directly from the kick. I think it was Murray who reminded the referee about that – very clever. The Lions have a penalty from the scrum, and into the corner it goes. This is a huge moment. Lineout on the New Zealand 22, the maul is going backwards though. Excellent from the All Blacks – it’s going through the hands, Davies straightens … the Lions have a penalty. It’s advantage, Murray looks for Faletau on the right, the ball is loose, but it’s out of touch. Back with come for a penalty … Farrell to go for goal, it’s not an easy one though, out on the right. Through it goes – all square.

9.19am BST

39 mins: Smith and Sexton are kicking high at every opportunity. Sexton is held up though and the All Blacks have a scrum, just inside the Lions half.

9.18am BST

38 mins: Dagg takes it cleanly this time as Barrett launches one. It’s allowed to bounce – Daly grabs it but is forced out so New Zealand take a swift lineout. Barrett kicks again but Watson takes an excellent catch.

9.16am BST

37 mins: Barrett knocks over his third penalty of the night.

9.16am BST

36 mins: It’s another New Zealand penalty – Vunipola the guilty party this time. It’s within Barrett’s range. The Lions need to cut out these silly errors.

9.15am BST

35 mins: Itoje takes an excellent restart – he’s improving as the game goes – but Murray’s box-kick is out on the full. New Zealand have the lineout then, not far from the Lions 22.

9.14am BST

34 mins: Itoje pinches the restart and earn a penalty, on the New Zealand 22, right in front. Farrell should really knock this over … and that he does.

9.12am BST

32 mins: Through it goes so the All Blacks lead again.

9.11am BST

31 mins: The scrum is reset, another minute or two wasted, here comes Barrett down the short side and Murray gives away a silly penalty after a good tackle. Barrett to go for goal as Watson returns.

9.09am BST

29 mins: New Zealand opt for the scrum, Barrett has it and turns Nowell around. Williams clears, gets it back and off goes O’Brien. Sexton kicks, but it’s far too long. Back we come for a scrum. The Lions need to settle – the red card has perhaps affected them a bit more.

9.06am BST

27 mins: It’s not a great kick from Dagg. There’s a break in play temporarily. Warburton and Itoje are holding court. There’s no doubting this is a great chance for the Lions but they must have patience and belief. Laumape is on for is All Blacks debut meanwhile. Kaino goes off.

Jones takes the lineout and the Lions form the maul … but it’s not straight.

9.05am BST

26 mins: That red card is greeted with a huge cheer by the Lions supporters. Worth bearing in mind though that there is no one better than playing with 14 than New Zealand.

The All Blacks have the ball though, Smith goes high and Nowell – on for Watson who is off for a HIA – clears well and Dagg thumps the ball out.

9.03am BST

It looks nasty in slow motion – it always does. It’s a shoulder right into the head of Watson. It’s red. Williams is off!

9.01am BST

25 mins: Itoje takes the restart, just, but the maul makes very good ground before Murray clatters clear. Watson has it back in his half and is under a bit of pressure. The TMO has stepped in for SBW not using his arms in the tackle …

9.00am BST

24 mins: It’s to the left, and not very far inside the New Zealand half. It’s not easy at all in this weather … but through it goes. Fantastic kick from Farrell!

8.58am BST

22 mins: Williams spills Smith’s clearance so there’s another scrum. The camera is on Rowntree, he looks an anxious man. The Lions could do with a strong response here … Solid enough as Naholo runs at Sexton again. Smith launches clear again but the Lions have a penalty for the All Blacks runners going too early. Farrell will go at goal – it is absoluely hosing down in Wellington. Big kick this.

8.56am BST

20 mins: It’s towards the left but much closer in. Just outside the 22 … and this one goes through the middle. First blood All Blacks.

8.55am BST

19 mins: The Lions supporters are full voice – Jones is really winding up Itoje. Murray puts the ball into the scrum but New Zealand have a penalty. Smith thinks about going quickly … but no. Barrett will go at goal again.

8.54am BST

18 mins: Barrett finds touch inside the Lions 22 and Kaino takes it. Here comes the New Zealand maul but it’s not going far – and the Lions have forced the turnover. Jones enjoyed that. So did the huge Lions support in Wellington.

8.52am BST

16 mins: Lions scrum bang on half way – it’s worked to the right and Watson cuts inside but Cane milks a penalty at the breakdown. Textbook.

8.51am BST

15 mins: Retallick carries in the middle of the pitch but it’s coughed up – Warburton has it and offloads … but it goes to ground again. Read it was with the first knock-on … a couple mistakes from him so far.

8.50am BST

14 mins: It’s a fair way out but it’s straight – but Barrett strikes the post. He didn’t miss a thing last week but that’s a bad miss.

8.48am BST

12 mins: Smith feeds Naholo who runs straight at Sexton. Kaino then makes some ground and Jones gives away a penalty at the breakdown. Barrett will go for goal.

8.47am BST

11 mins: There’s a break in play with Sexton getting a bit of treatment but we’re back under way with a New Zealand scrum. Barrett looks crossfield for Naholo – Daly interrupts but Naholo has it. The Lions drive New Zealand back but they have a knock-on advantage and it’ll be another scrum, over on their right, on halfway.

8.45am BST

10 mins: Solid again as Faletau picks up and feeds Murray – Farrell and Sexton combine well as the Lions near the New Zealand 22. Sexton with a lovely delayed pass to Davies, who flips the ball out to Day – Davies drops it in midfield, backwards though and Vunipla has a big carry … Wiliams gets clear down the right! But it’s forward.

Really promising for the Lions so far, but they could really do with some points.

8.43am BST

8 mins: It’s in, out and Dagg thumps clear. It stays in field though and Williams launches one high … chases and forces the drop from Dagg, who is furious with himself. The end result is another scrum, Lions to put in.

8.41am BST

6 mins: Warburton takes the lineout and off goes O’Brien, then Itoje bashes up and over the gainline. Then Furlong rumbles further into the 22 – it’s promising for the Lions but Itoje takes his eyes off the ball and fumbles. Disappointing but plenty to be positive about in the buildup nonetheless. New Zealand scrum inside their 22.

8.39am BST

4 mins: Scrum is rock solid so Murray goes down the short side and feeds Daly – and it’s a penalty to the Lions. They’ll be pleased with this start as Sexton hammers the ball into the corner.

8.38am BST

3 mins: Taylor takes an age to throw it in and the Lions have disrupted it – Read knocks it out so we’ll have a Lions scrum. A lot of chat from Itoje during that lineout.

8.37am BST

2 mins: Retallick takes it and makes a few metres. Jones flies into the tackle and bashes the carrier back – that’s more like it. Daly calls a mark after taking the kick and finds another touch.

8.36am BST

1 mins: Take a deep breath … Sexton kicks us off and Naholo gathers cleanly. Smith box-kicks and Williams knocks it on. Barrett kicks long though and Sexton finds touch so we’ll have a lineout. Smith’s kick was on the money there.

8.34am BST

There’s a huge amount of Lions supporters here. You can feel the sense of occasion from 12,000 miles away. Time for the haka now, led by Perenara again. Magnificent again.

8.30am BST

Five minutes until kick-off – hold on to your hats. The first 10-15 minutes is likely to be lively …

8.29am BST

Here come the Lions to a huge cheer from the swathes of supporters in the Cake Tin. A lot of steely looks on their faces. To have been a fly on the wall of the changing room just a few moments ago …

New Zealand are on their way now. Read leads them out – Ioane again looks like he doesn’t have a care in the world. He’s 20 years old.

8.26am BST

Not long to go now … the tension is mounting.

Whenever the All Blacks are playing there is always the danger that they run away with things but with the weather filthy, with the Lions hurting after last week’s schooling and with there being no tomorrow, this has the making of a Test match for the ages. The Lions could dearly do with an early lead but you get the feeling they would take being in contention with 10 minutes to go.

8.23am BST

News coming out of Wellington … Sir Ian McGeechan has been taken to hospital after falling ill at the stadium. Here’s the wires take and I’ll bring you updates as and when I receive them. Our best wishes go out to Ian and we’re all hoping for a speedy recovery.

Sir Ian McGeechan has been taken to hospital after falling ill at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium while covering the British and Irish Lions, New Zealand Rugby has confirmed. The former Lions coach, 70, was taken by ambulance to Wellington Hospital. McGeechan has been working as part of Sky Sports’ team covering the Lions tour in New Zealand. The four-time Lions head coach, who also played eight Tests for the tourists as a centre, walked himself to the ambulance before being transferred to hospital. McGeechan’s daughter, Heather, offered an update to her father’s condition on Twitter. Responding to a number of journalists, pundits and former players, Heather McGeechan (heathermcgeech1) tweeted: “PaulMorganrugby robvickerman BenKay5 spoken to my dad, Geech and he is fine, just a bug. Thank you everyone for all your best wishes x.”

8.11am BST

Here’s a better weather update for you from our man on the ground …

The camera lies…hosing down here at the Cake Tin. Soggy bottoms guaranteed… #LionsNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/za8B6EFGXY

8.11am BST

Wise words from John …

@gerard_meagher 3 words 4 The Lions ‘Whatever it takes” they were the last words the 2nd Test 97 Lions heard leaving the dressing room

8.01am BST

Weather update …

Meanwhile in New Zealand. pic.twitter.com/If9XYXyBnc

8.00am BST

There are mouthwatering clashes all over the pitch today – Sonny Bill Williams v Owen Farrell, Aaron Smith v Connor Murray to name just a couple – but perhaps no more than Brodie Retallick against Maro Itoje. Itoje has been brought in to up the Lions’ physicality while Retallick was colossal last weekend.

Have a read of what our columnist Nick Evans makes of it all …

Related: Lions’ pairing of Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell is brave not desperate | Nick Evans

12.33pm BST

Hello!

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

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jul/01/new-zealand-v-lions-second-test-live

Jun 27

Hurricanes 31-31 Lions: tour match ends in thrilling draw – as it happened

The Lions were forced to settle for a draw after conceding two late tries in a thriller against the Hurricanes

10.58am BST

And that wraps things up for me. Many thanks as ever for reading. Join me on Saturday for the second Test.

Cheerio.

10.57am BST

Gatland is asked what could have gone better … “Better game management and there were some soft penalties. We played some good rugby but the yellow card was a penalty to us, then reversed and then Henderson is off for 10 minutes, we concede 14 points ans that’s the game.

Asked about the Geography Six, Gatland adds: “The players that have come in have come in for cover. All along we said it was about cover and making sure the Test 23 are well prepared.”

10.47am BST

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

Related: Lions let slip 14-point lead as Hurricanes force 31-31 draw in final tour match

10.35am BST

It’s certainly baffling. Gatland has refused to use any of the six unless for temporary replacements. It raises the question of what they are doing there if they do not come on with a tired Lions side letting a lead slip. It is almost as if he wants them airbrushed from history …

@gerard_meagher Today’s office debate- Are the Geography Six a shoe gaze indie band or a bunch of naer do wells due in court for map theft?

10.35am BST

An excellent match, and it seems a draw is about right. The Hurricanes were too indisciplined throughout but showed their class to come back to 31-31, and the Lions did well to hold on for the draw in the end. It will have plenty of impact on selection for Saturday but savour that match first – it was breathless.

In terms of Lions selection – Lawes and Henderson have cranked up the pressure in terms of pushing for a place in the Test 23. For New Zealand, Laumape was superb. He may not play on Saturday but don’t be surprised to see him in the third Test in Auckland.

10.31am BST

80 mins: North runs up the middle, then Henderson, Nowell shimmies but it’s a maul and it’s a turnover for the Hurricanes. They’ll have a scrum on their own 22 as the hooter goes!

First things first, the Hurricanes need the ball in and out … they do so but the Lions have turned the ball over.

10.27am BST

79 mins: It’s brought down legally though and Stander wallops into contact. Joseph is stepping and the Lions are making more ground …

10.26am BST

78 mins: The TMO tells Poite that there’s been a neck roll by Laumape on Halfpenny. That’s a let-off for the Lions. Biggar finds touch and Kruis takes the throw. Here comes the maul, up and over halfway …

10.22am BST

77 mins: Barrett almost gets through. Desperate tackling from the Lions. The Hurricanes are a few metres short on the left but they’ve lost it! Hurricanes knock-on so we’ll have a scrum. Here comes Henderson.

10.21am BST

76 mins: The ball squirms out but it’s still with the Hurricanes. Henderson will be back on next time the ball goes dead. Goosen takes the Hurricanes into the 22 on the left. It’s squirmed out again but Gibbins picks it up.

10.20am BST

75 mins: Scrum to the Hurricanes, and a dangerous one at that. Inside the Lions half and centre field. Laumape is there again, making ground and the Hurricanes burst through. They’re forced back a bit though as the ball goes to ground.

10.18am BST

72 mins: We’re set up for a grandstand finish here. Still Gatland refuses to turn to the Geography Six as Halfpenny brings the ball up and over halfway. Biggar goes to the skies but Barrett takes it cleanly. Milner-Skudder kicks long and Halfpenny coughs it up!

10.16am BST

71 mins: Hurricanes lineout inside the Lions 22. Laumape crashes into Biggar again. The Hurricanes are just a metre short … they think they’ve scored again. They’re sure they have but we’ll go upstairs. It’s a definite try from Fifita! Right under the posts. Barrett levels with the straight forward conversion and there’s still more than four minutes on the sin-bin clock!

10.14am BST

70 mins: Biggar’s kick is a bit loose and here comes Barrett. The Hurricanes have a penalty advantage. It’s knocked on so we’ll have the penalty. It’s inside the Hurricanes half so Barrett will look for touch … and finds another excellent kick.

10.12am BST

68 mins: The Hurricanes will fancy themselves with an extra man. Barrett blasts them into the Lions 22. Here comes Laumape on the crash ball æ they’re just a few metres short … the forwards have it, under the posts. Barrett finally puts some width on it and the replacement Goosen is over. He’s bought a few metres for the conversion too. Barrett makes no mistake.

10.09am BST

66 mins: The Lions have it back and have advantage after another high tackle on Nowell. We’re coming back for it. Poite wants to have a look at a bit of foul play by Henderson on Barrett though … Poite seems to think it’s just a penalty but the TMO is advising another look. Henderson gets a yellow card as Poite believes, on second viewing, that Barrett landed on his shoulder. At least he gets a rest with Saturday in mind …

10.04am BST

64 mins: A lineout to the Hurricanes then, five metres out. Taken cleanly and the Hurricanes have advantage. Barrett finds touch just inside the Hurricanes half.

10.03am BST

63 mins: Tahuriorangi is back on but the Lions have a penalty and Biggar finds a good touch. North carries hard off the lineout – the Jamie Roberts role. Joseph grubbers – it’s very well weighted – and North gathers and splashes over! It’ll be checked though. Foot in touch. No try. I think North knew, judging from his reaction.

10.01am BST

61 mins: The Hurricanes have the lineout after Biggar finds touch, Marler is down and receiving treatment. The Lions are defending very well here with the extra man as Halfpenny thumps clear. Laumape finds pace on the left though – well moped up by Biggar.

9.59am BST

59 mins: The Hurricanes have a scrum and Black goes himself. The ball is out on the left, approaching the 22, Gibbins gets up to the 22 after some clever interplay but Cole flops on the loose ball.

9.56am BST

57 mins: Halfpenny puts width on it again and North has a powerful carry. He’s been a lot more involved at centre.

9.54am BST

56 mins: We’ll be back underway with a five-metre scrum. Stander picks up and goes himself. Now Henderson again, there’s a penalty coming. Kruis gets an early touch … Biggar puts width on it, finds Nowell and the ball is worked to Seymour who is over in the left corner. Seymour’s second try of the match. Biggar pushes the conversion.

9.52am BST

No try. He was short and held up. George Kruis is coming on for Courtney Lawes – not Cory Hill?!?

9.50am BST

54 mins: The ball is loose after Laidlaw’s high kick. Henderson snares it and rumbles on. The Lions are up to five metres out near the left. Marler has a go, Henderson is almost there, between the posts but it looks like he’s been held up. We’ll go upstairs … try, yes or no …

9.48am BST

53 mins: In the buildup to that we saw another offload out of the tackle from Tipuric. He’s the only Lion who does that really. It seems a bit odd how far away from the Test team he is. Anyway, Biggar slots the penalty.

9.47am BST

52 mins: Henderson doesn’t so much charge down Tahuriorangi as swallow him up so the Lions have it in the Hurricanes 22, with advantage. Good response from the Lions. Nowell plays scrum-half and is taking high. The Lions can’t work their way over but back we come for the penalty and Tahuriorangi is shown a yellow card. A big blow for the Hurricanes having just got back to within six points.

9.45am BST

50 mins: Poite, who has had an excellent game so far, is telling the Lions off for not giving the ball back for the penalty. It’s right under the posts so Barrett will kick at goal. He’s getting one or two boos for doing so … but through it goes and the Hurricanes are back to within a score.

9.43am BST

49 mins: Laumape makes a dent on the crash ball, Straight into Biggar. The Hurricanes have advantage, Savea makes good ground … but we’re back for the penalty. More niggle off the ball and Marler is in the thick of it.

9.41am BST

48 mins: Russell kicks deep and Barrett goes aerial. The ball bounces, Shields pounces on it but his offload does not go to hands. Russell fires the ball to the right. Seymour gathers his chip but Halfpenny is penalised for a shirt pull and the Hurricanes go to the corner. Biggar is coming back on.

9.40am BST

47 mins: Penalty to the Hurricanes. The momentum is with the Hurricanes and they will go for goal here. It’ll test Barrett, surely close to his limit. But it’s just wide.

9.39am BST

45 mins: Russell is stripped after a little step with his first touch. Scrum to the Hurricanes on halfway.

9.37am BST

44 mins: Biggar is having an HIA so Russell is on. Another of Geography Six! The Hurricanes have cleared their lines from the restart and the Lions have a lineout on their 10-metre line.

9.36am BST

42 mins: Ridiculously good try. An early demonstration of exactly what the Hurricanes are capable of. It’s finished off by Laumape. Savea with the assist – Biggar has taken a whack to the head trying to stop Laumape but he’s just too powerful. It was a delightful inside pass from Aso that sliced the Lions open though. Bit of hand bags again afterwards. Barrett nails the conversion from wide on the right.

9.34am BST

41 mins: Blacks gets us going again. The Hurricanes have an advantage as Shields runs over Laidlaw and up to the 22.

9.33am BST

No changes at half-time …

9.24am BST

A very good half for the Lions, all be told. The Hurricanes have been far too indisciplined and the Lions have taken full advantage with tries from Seymour and North. The Hurricanes have looked dangerous at times and have scored a try through Gibbins but on the whole the Lions have defended very well.

Lawes and Henderson have both been excellent so it’ll be interesting to see if either is taken off. Henshaw has had to go off injured which has brought Halfpenny on at fullback and Nowell, who was impressing in the No15 shirt, to the wing. North has gone to centre, from where he managed his first try of the tour which will be a huge confidence boost.

Related: Warren Gatland mocked up as clown by New Zealand paper … for a second time

Related: The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage

9.21am BST

40 mins: Hurricanes have advantage as Savea tries to find space on the left. Barrett frees Shields on the right – Savea comes off his wing and then offloads to Fifita. He’s not going to get there though so we’re back for the penalty. Black will go to the corner.

Cole comes away with the ball from the Hurricanes maul but it’s a penalty to the Hurricanes again. Back it goes to the corner. The Hurricanes maul goes nowhere fast though and it’s held up. Well defended.

9.17am BST

39 mins: Black kicks off. North takes it again. Biggar boots clear and into touch but it’s taken quickly. Halfpenny takes Black’s kick. Laidlaw is charged down but Black has knocked it on and Biggar clears.

9.15am BST

38 mins: Biggar goes to the skies, Halfpenny chases well and taps it back. The loose ball falls to Henderson, who offloads to the onrushing North. Try time!

9.14am BST

37 mins: Barrett chases well and hits Halfpenny hard. Haskell carries up the left. Tipuric almost breaks the tackle and offloads. It almost leads to Nowell getting clear on the right but the ball is loose and Barrett clears.

9.13am BST

36 mins: North takes it but is stopped in his tracks. Riccitelli has put himself about in this first half. Savea drops Laidlaw’s box-kick but does so backwards. The Lions have it back though, Tipuric feeds Biggar, who has won another penalty. These penalties are killing the Hurricanes. Biggar goes for the corner but can’t find it. Barrett clears.

9.11am BST

34 mins: North takes the restart, carries hard. Then Lawes. Halfpenny slips when clearing and Fifita brings the Hurricanes up to the Lions 22. The Lions have it back though. It’s a mess so we’ll have a scrum. Laidlaw to put in.

9.09am BST

33 mins: Biggar takes full advantage. Foolish from May.

9.08am BST

31 mins: Milner-Skudder sets off after taking the restart but doesn’t get very far. Barrett thumps clear but May has been penalised for holding Laidlaw so it’s an easy chance at three points.

9.07am BST

29 mins: Just a couple of metres short now. Gibbins thinks he’s push his way over … he has. Glasgow-bound Gibbins with try and Barrett with the conversion to get the Hurricanes back into the match.

9.05am BST

27 mins: Free-kick to the Hurricanes and Shields goes quickly. Tahuriorangi tries to put his runner through with a delayed pass. The forwards are up to five or six metres from the posts, with advantage.

9.03am BST

26 mins: Lawes does get his hand to this lineout … but he knocks it on so it’s a scrum to the Hurricanes on the Lions 22.

9.03am BST

25 mins: Hurricanes have a lineout on halfway. Lawes nearly pinches it but cant and Black feeds Laumape who races through a gap! He can’t find the offload though and the Lions have it back. That’s well defended by the Lions and Laidlaw finds touch.

9.01am BST

23 mins: Biggar lines one up at goal from just inside the Hurricanes half, and it sails through.

9.00am BST

Halfpenny appears to have gone to full-back – Nowell switching to the wing.

8.59am BST

22 mins: The Hurricanes have a lineout outside the Lions 22 but Best turns it over. North has a crack up the middle. Biggar chips over the top and Joseph takes it. Joseph is taken in the air so the Lions have an advantage. Back we come.

8.57am BST

21 mins: Biggar is under pressure near his own line, scampering back but Laidlaw does well to clear. the Sky Sports clock is stuck so I’m guessing a bit. In the meantime …

Related: Warren Gatland mocked up as clown by New Zealand paper … for a second time

8.56am BST

19 mins: Henshaw has a shoulder problem and is going off. Halfpenny is on as Gatland continues to keep the Geography Six on the bench. Looks like North will come into the centres.

8.55am BST

18 mins: Interception though … it’s Laidlaw with it – he’s moving his legs as fast as he can. He’s got no chance of getting there but he pops it up to Seymour who streaks clear under the posts! Biggar can’t miss the conversion.

8.54am BST

17 mins: Savea has his first real burst down the left after quick hands from the Hurricanes backs. Nowell does well to bring him down though. Hurricanes still have it though, with the forwards now in the Lions 22.

8.52am BST

16 mins: Laumape has a strong carry after the Lions got on top in the scrum but not by enough to earn the penalty. Penalty to Hurricanes near their own 22. Very powerful from Laumape there.

8.52am BST

15 mins: Marler is getting his head bandaged for the second match in a row so there’s a brief stoppage in play. We’re back underway with a Hurricanes scrum.

8.49am BST

14 mins: Tipuric has a burst after the clean lineout. The Lions are up and inside the 22 but it’s scrappy ball – the Hurricanes are defending very aggressively and they’ve held it up and will have a scrum.

8.48am BST

13 mins: Biggar taps quickly and Joseph makes ground on the left. Seymour fumbles but both Hurricanes centres are offside. That’s five penalties against the Hurricanes already. This penalty goes to touch.

8.47am BST

12 mins: Henderson rumbles through a couple of tackles after the restart. Laidlaw then kicks high but too deep and it’s returned by Barrett. Nowell fields it and wins a penalty after Barrett’s high tackle.

8.46am BST

11 mins: This should be straightforward for Biggar, and straight through it goes.

8.44am BST

9 mins: It goes to ground but the Lions still have it, it’s slow ball though as Haskell plays scrum-half. Tipuric has a crack, then Lawes. We’ll come back for a Lions penalty. Biggar will surely go for goal. He will.

8.43am BST

8 mins: Biggar finds touch on the right, bang on the Hurricanes 22. Lawes takes the lineout and the Lions get the maul going.

8.42am BST

7 mins: The scrum will be reset … Poite not happy at the moment. The Lions make a bit of a mess of it but they have been awarded a penalty. Bit of hand bags now … Haskell and Stander are involved. As is May and Shields.

8.40am BST

5 mins: Tahuriorangi goes to the short side and Milner-Skudder chips ahead. Nowell does well to mop up though and Biggar thumps clear from deep. It’s taken quickly and Barrett gets some width on it again. No way through for Laumape on the left though and it’s a Hurricanes knock-on.

8.38am BST

4 mins: The Lions get a free-kick from the scrum, Nowell is tackled well by Milner-Skudder on the left. The Lions forwards are making a bit of ground until a sloppy knock-on from Laidlaw. We’ll have another scrum – this time Hurricanes to put in.

8.37am BST

2 mins: Barrett puts a bit of width on it and Aso makes ground on the left … but Barrett spills a poor pass from Tahuriorangi.

8.36am BST

1 min: Biggar kicks off, Shields fields it. Barrett clears and Nowell brings up it to halfway. Laidlaw eventually goes to the skies but Barrett takes it cleanly.

8.35am BST

Here come the Lions, led by Best who captains for the day. Shields leads out the Hurricanes. Doesn’t seem like there’s anything up the sleeve … here we go …

8.29am BST

Five minutes until kick-off. The Hurricanes will not be performing a haka, we’ll have to see if they have anything else up their sleeves.

8.25am BST

There’s a helicopter just about to land on the pitch … delivering the match ball. Unconfirmed if the pilot is Richie McCaw …

8.22am BST

A quick word too for Cory Jane who is on the bench for the Hurricanes today. He was also in the Wellington Lions’ squad 12 that faced the Lions 12 years ago and there cannot be many players who have played against the Lions on two different tours.

8.16am BST

A word on today’s referee – it’s France’s Romain Poite on duty, his first match in charge so far on the tour. He also referees the third Test so if, and it’s an almighty if, the Lions can win in Wellington on Saturday, he is the man in the middle for the decider. The Lions will hoping to get on the right side of him – not least because his compatriot Jerome Garces is on duty on Saturday.

8.09am BST

Gatland has been talking to Sky Sports, no mention of clowns but he does say that if either of the second rows are going to force their way into Test contention they can’t really play more than 40 minutes. “A lot of players tonight, they’ve got a good chance.”

7.55am BST

The Murray debate is certainly polarising opinion. There is footage of Jerome Kaino taking him out rather late during the first Test but Gatland is getting hammered by the New Zealand press for accusing his countrymen of deliberately doing so. Here’s what Kaino has had to say on the matter …

Related: Jerome Kaino pleads innocence over charge at Lions’ Connor Murray

7.52am BST

More on just why the Herald has gone with its front page now. It centres around Gatland accusing the All Blacks of seeking to target Conor Murray illegally and the Lions coach has go as far to say that they are endangering the Ireland scrum-half’s career. Steve Hansen doesn’t agree …

Related: Gatland’s claims about dangerous All Blacks play are desperate, says Hansen

7.46am BST

Hello!

And welcome to the eighth instalment of the British & Irish Lions tour and the final midweek match for Warren Gatland’s squad.

Warren Gatland’s absolutely blown it https://t.co/wtjIZEE0eN pic.twitter.com/o9JHvF0tdY

11.22am BST

Gerard will be here soon.

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/jun/27/hurricanes-lions-tour-match-live

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

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