Lions finally show their claws and more talking points after a gripping

first_imgLions finally show their claws and more talking points after a gripping clash with Crusaders A week on from an embarrassing win in Whangarei, Christchurch must feel like the real start of the tour for Warren Gatland’s men. By Sean Farrell Jun 10th 2017, 11:25 AM Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud 24,763 Views 24 Comments THE LIONS GOT back to winning ways on their 2017 tour of New Zealand with a gripping 3 – 12 win over the Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch. Here’s our match report and below are some of our snap post-match reactions.Lions roar into Test modeFrom a long way out, this fixture looked like the most daunting (non-Maori) tour match facing the Lions. After the disappointing late loss to the Blues, the task facing them in Christchurch looked doubly difficult, but they approached it as they would a full on Test with a team that bore many hallmarks of a first-choice XV.Against the unbeaten leaders of Super Rugby, the Lions’ intensity shone through and they were able to nullify the home side’s attacking threat, restricting them to just a single score and only a few clean breaks while creating a host of opportunities of their own.Attacking cohesionThis was a victory built on the solid foundations laid in defence by the tourists and certainly the defensive effort from Gatland’s men was much improve as they learned the lessons from Wednesday’s defeat to the Blues.Apart from one or two glimpses of the lethal attacking threat the hosts possess, the Lions were able to contain the Super Rugby leaders and a large part of that was down to their dominance at the set-piece. But regardless of how good their defence is, 12 points isn’t going to be enough to beat the All Blacks and certainly there is a lot of room for improvement in attack going forward. Source: Photosport/John Davidson/INPHOGatland insisted afterwards that it will take time for his team to click, but even still the Lions butchered several chances they really ought to have converted and their inaccuracy in the opposition 22 could have cost them dearly on another night.On more than occasion, the final pass didn’t go to hand and it’s now just two tries scored in the opening three games of the tour but as Gatland said ‘it’s a step in the right direction’ and he’ll be hoping they can build upon tonight when the Lions travel to face the Highlanders on Tuesday.Magnificent MurrayInjury to Jonathan Davies meant Ireland’s out-half didn’t play as long with Owen Farrell as Warren Gatland would have liked, but in the opening exchanges the half-backs combined as a unit if brilliant fashion. As an individual, Murray’s game management from behind the ruck helped lay the platform for a massive morale-boosting win. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHOThe Munster man is a clear cut above the other nines on tour with his sublime service and assured presence breeding confidence throughout the side. The only thing that might talk Gatland out of starting Murray is if he keeps drawing blood from team-mates with those elbows.O’Brien back with multiple bangsSean O’Brien has endured a frustrating two months or so, but he looked in flying form as he took the field for the first time since Leinster’s Champions Cup quarter-final win over Wasps all the way back on 1 April. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHOOn top of his usual muscular presence with the ball in hand and and at ruck time, the openside showed flashes of supreme athleticism, most notably when he hared after out-half Richie Mo’unga to quell a first-half break. As long as he’s fit, O’Brien will relish the prospect of forcing his way into considerations for the openside slot, more performances like this will certainly make Gatland think how his captain will fit in.A performance that demands respectThere hasn’t been much for New Zealand head coach to fear so far from the Tourists, but this morning they went toe to toe with Sam Whitelock and the form team in Super Rugby and completely negated the home side, restricting them to just a single score.The All Blacks, of course, will pose a much greater variety of threats to that Lions defence, but a week on from a dispiriting win over the NZ Barbarians, Gatland’s side dug deep for victory despite being forced into an early back-line reshuffle and grew in confidence the longer the contest went on.It won’t exactly have Hansen losing sleep, but it ought to shake a bit of complacency off those silver ferns.- Additional reporting by Ryan Bailey. Farrell boots Lions to momentum-boosting victory against CrusadersFolau, Speight try doubles as Australia beat Fijicenter_img Share Tweet Email2 Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO Saturday 10 Jun 2017, 11:25 AM Short URL Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO https://the42.ie/3436908 Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this articlelast_img


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