The Lions led the Hurricanes by 14 points after 65 minutes before an Iain Henderson yellow card gave the 'Canes an unlikely route back for a draw
The Lions midweekers gave Warren Gatland both questions and answers after a few days in which the head coach has had to wear a tin hat to protect himself from all the invective thrown his way from his own countrymen. A so-so first 15 minutes came to life after Tommy Seymour took a cute pass from Laidlaw to sail away and despite ‘Canes openside Callum Gibbins burrowing over from close-range, it got better for the Lions when George North was on the shoulder of the impressive Iain Henderson to go in under the posts giving them a comfortable 23-7 half-time lead.
After the break, it was the Hurricanes who started the brightest, as Ngani Laumape powered over in the corner. With the hosts threatening a comeback, it was a relief to see a well-worked backline move see the ball work itself out to Tommy Seymour to run in his second try and give the Lions a deserved 14-point buffer. Then, as so often in the tour, the Lions imploded after Henderson was shown the yellow card for a tip-tackle on Jordie Barrett and two tries conceded in five minutes left them hanging on for a draw which will have pleased the hosts more than the visitors.
Made in Scotland
When Greig Laidlaw picked a ball out of the air to intercept a Hurricanes attack, he set off, with most of the watching crowd knowing he didn’t have to pace to run it in from distance, however Laidlaw used his noggin, looked around after 30m and went to ground to pop the ball up to an expectant Tommy Seymour, who certainly did have the wheels to go in under the posts. It was a score that would have been appreciated among the good folk of Scotland
Dan’s the man
Okay Dan Biggar has always been trailing Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton in the selection stakes but the Wales fly-half has let no-one down on this tour. His defensive zeal sets an example, he kicked long and true and when called upon to slot the ball through the sticks he did so without complaint, with one effort from nearly 50m bring admiring glances from the stands. He had to leave the field for a crunching tackle as he tried to bundle Ngani Laumape into touch as he went in in the corner, but typically came back on to marshal the Lions home and finished with 16pts. A decent tour.
Whoever was on the music duties at the Hurricanes has certainly got a sense of humour. When a ruckus broke out, with CJ Stander raising a fist to Fifita Vaea and James Haskell getting to know a few of the Hurricanes pack, temperatures were rising. Cue, the sound system with the Beatles’ classic ‘All you need is Love’ to loud applause from the crowd and laughter. It was very effective as the flash point stopped before things turned ugly.
Putting their hands up for the Tests
Before the Hurricanes game, pundits and fans alike were playing a game of ‘name the likely Test bolter’ and most of the names put forward did their case no harm at all. George North, so tentative for so much of the tour, offered himself as a carrier – especially when thrust into midfield after Henshaw departed – and was rewarded to a run in under the posts after a sweet Iain Henderson offload. Courtney Lawes was effervescent around the pitch, carrying in the tight exchanges, taking clean ball off the top and putting in his tackles. Jack Nowell and CJ Stander were also to the fore in taking the game to the ‘Canes. They’ve given Warren Gatland a welcome dilemma. Iain Henderson was another who did so much to impress.
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Hurricanes blow themselves out early on
The Hurricanes are the great entertainers of Super Rugby with their star-studded backline and coach Chris Boyd likes them to express themselves but time and time again in the first-half they were too sloppy, giving away penalties in an assortment of different area on the field, and gifting the Lions points to extend their lead to 23-7 at the break. It was unnecessary and will have been a great frustration to the management. As we know, things improved in the second-half.
Lions discipline costs them…again
Iain Henderson had been having a brilliant night, trucking it the guts of the pitch, offloading and hitting rucks with venom, leading to in-game calls on social media that he should be parachuted into the Test 23. His night turned on a split second when he executed a tip-tackle on Jordie Barrett on 65 minutes. After much deliberation he sent off for 10 minutes in the sin-bin and in that time the Lions conceded 14 points, through tries for Fifita and Wes Goosen as a once comfortable lead disintegrated before their eyes to leave them with a hugely uncomfortable last ten minutes. It was all so unnecessary.
Lions have a bench, so why not use it?
Warren Gatland has, somewhat unfairly, been vilified from all quarters for calling up a handful of players to cover while he protected his Test 23. The problem is, he didn’t use them when his first-choice team were clearly waning, particularly in light of Iain Henderson’s yellow card as they came under pressure. It seemed odd that he didn’t pep up a side requiring a burst of adrenalin and has led to more questions than answers.
Tries: Tommy Seymour (2), George North
Cons: Dan Biggar (2)
Pens: Biggar (4)
Tries: Callum Gibbins, Ngani Laumape, Vaea Fifita, Wes Goosen
Cons: Barrett (2)
The Hurricanes carried for 540m compared to the Lions’ 460m
The Lions made 134 out of their 144 tackles, with a completion rate of 93 per cent. The Hurricanes trailed with 119 of 142, with an 83 per cent success rate
The Hurricanes conceded 11 penalties to the Lions’ nine
Top metres carried for the Lions were Jack Nowell (62), Tommy Seymour (61), George North (59). For the Hurricanes, Jordie Barrett carried for 114m with Ngani Laumape second with 119m
The game’s top tackler was Justin Tipuric with 20 tackles, followed by Rory Best and CJ Stander with 14. For the Canes, Callum Gibbins (20) Mark Abbott (18) led from the front
British and Irish Lions: J Nowell; T Seymour; J Joseph, R Henshaw; G North; D Biggar; G Laidlaw; J Marler, R Best (captain), D Cole (England), I Henderson, C Lawes, J Haskell, J Tipuric, CJ Stander
Replacements: K Dacey, A Dell, T Francis, C Hill, G Kruis, G Davies, F Russell, L Halfpenny
Hurricanes: J Barrett, N Milner-Skudder, V Aso, N Laumape, J Savea, O Black, T Toiroa-Tahuriorangi, B May, R Ricitelli, J To’omaga-Allen, M Abbott, S Lousi, V Fifita, C Gibbins, B Shields (captain)
Replacements: L Apisai, C Eves, M Kainga, J Blackwell, R Prinsep, K Hauiti-Parapara, W Goosen, C Jane