Chiefs vs Lions: Five things we learned

International
by Sam Phillips

The Lions found a new gear in Hamilton tonight.

Here's what we're talking about after the 34-6 win.

1. Lions find attacking flair

It was happy days for Greg Laidlaw and Jared Payne. Photo: Getty ImagesThe tourists had the set piece and defensive game down pat against the Maori All Blacks but it was the addition of some extra flair in attack that caught the eye tonight.

Greg Laidlaw and Dan Biggar played with more width while maintaining possession, a deadly combo against even the best of teams.

That's exactly what the All Blacks are and while this pair are unlikely to be the starting halves come Saturday, the blueprint is now there.

There were two long range tries in the second term and though the Chiefs looked to be out on their feet, these are only positive signs for Saturday's first Test.

2. Never say no to Nowell

Nowell was the star of the show on Tuesday. Photo: Getty ImagesJack Nowell was the best player on the ground tonight.

The English winger was threatening with every touch and scored a pair of tries to go with six tackle busts and two line breaks.

Speed is rugby's most potent weapon and he has stacks of it.

He may not start on Saturday but the 24-year-old should be on Warren Gatland's bench, as he has an X Factor you need to match it with the Kiwis.

3. Midweek team hits their straps

Stephen Donald's Chiefs couldn't get into their groove on Tuesday. Photo: Getty ImagesThis is Warren Gatland's second best starting XV and they've fallen short against the Blues and Highlanders.

This was a well deserved win that was narrowly beaten in those two matches.

It took three games but it all clicked tonight.

4. Lawes looks the part

Courtney Lawes would have been in most pundits' starting XV before a ball was kicked on this tour but the fact that he started tonight doesn't bode well for his chances of a starting spot on Saturday.

That may be misguided, though, as he was a standout again tonight.

He led the tourists defensively for 75 minutes and had nine solid runs for a pair of tackle busts and two offloads to boot.

His work at the lineout was crisp and the Lions scrum was dominant.

Maro Itoje has locked up one second row spot but if it's between George Kruis and Lawes, Gatland should look to the latter.

5. First Test finally here

After six tour matches, the time has come.

Lions series are special spectacles and this clash should be no different.

Bring it on.

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