Week Lions team in for Chiefs clash

Gwen Vasquez
June 19, 2017

British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has insisted his players for Tuesday's clash with the Chiefs can still aspire to "double up" and play Test rugby next weekend - despite all evidence to the contrary.

Maori's misery at slipping further behind was compounded soon after; Tawera Kerr-Barlow's unsafe tackle on Halfpenny in the 48th minute was predictably punished with a yellow card by referee Peyper, who awarded the Lions a penalty try three minutes later after the Maori turned the ball illegally.

Yet against the Maori, it was utterly in control, with the Lions from the outset laying down their marker by finally getting the maul in forward gear, winning penalties along its steady march.

British and Irish Lions tour match 2017 at the Rotorua International Stadium, New Zealand.

Hamilton native Gatland coached former All Blacks playmaker Stephen Donald in his early days at Waikato, and the two will go head to head on Tuesday, a game in which five Ireland players will start.

The All Blacks big men linked beautifully with the backs and at times out-shined them.

Halfpenny kicked his fourth penalty of the evening, whilst Damian McKenzie missed narrowly to the left of the posts, as the men in red and white held on for a narrow 12-10 half-time advantage. Taulupe Faletau drove close, and Itoje finished off.

Captain Sam Warburton also played a reduced role on Saturday, but Gatland has high hopes that the pair will return to face the All Blacks.

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With Owen Farrell an injury doubt for the first Test, England centre Ben Te'o produced the ideal audition to nail down the number 12 jersey.

It leaves the Lions with the positive conundrum of fitting Sexton, Farrell, Ben Te'o, Jonathan Davies and Jonathan Joseph into their 10-12-13 combination for Saturday's first Test.

"Playing at this level you are always going to get bumps and bruises, but we are in pretty good shape at the moment". Just look at the way we defended against the Maori. "We've improved game on game just from the pure quality of the opposition that we've come up against".

"Because it was picked up on a couple of occasions [on Saturday] they stopped doing it as much".

"I think they're going to write another movie about him.", Messam said.

Warburton continues to chase full match sharpness, and could well take a seat on the bench for Saturday's first All Blacks Test in Auckland.

L Williams (Wales); J Nowell (England), J Payne, R Henshaw (both Ireland), E Daly (England); D Biggar (Wales), G Laidlaw (Scotland); J Marler (England), R Best (Ireland, capt), D Cole (England), I Henderson (Ireland), C Lawes (England), J Haskell (England), J Tipuric (Wales), CJ Stander (Ireland).

Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones and Scotland winger Tommy Seymour are among the reserves which may indicate they retain some chance of making the test lineup as replacements.

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