Lions left licking their wounds as All Blacks cruise to win

International
by Sam Phillips

The All Blacks have flexed their all-conquering might in a dominant 30-15 win at Eden Park.

This match was an incredible display of rugby as it should be played and one of the best All Blacks performances in recent memory.

Perhaps the most impressive part was the simplicity in which the home side identified the Lions' threat, nullified it and proceeded to take complete control of the game.

That threat was the Lions' back three.Liam Williams was a major threat in attack. Photo: Getty ImagesLiam Williams, Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly all starred for the tourists but they were the only three, with the exception of Jonathan Davies, that were able to threaten the All Blacks line.

It was the said trio that, with the score at 13-8, launched two counterattacking raids from which they could have and probably should have scored.

The All Blacks staved those raids off with some desperate defence, quickly stopped kicking it down their throats and never looked back.

Both backrows were massive.

Sean O'Brien is a breakdown beast, Taulupe Faletau is a monster with ball in hand and Peter O'Mahony gets through plenty of work that typically goes unsighted.

Kieran Read had 17 gain line busting runs, Jerome Kaino looked similarly dangerous and Sam Cane did his best Richie McCaw impersonation in a stellar performance.Jerome Kaino was at his gain line busting best. Photo: Getty ImagesWhereas the Lions relied on the counterattack as their only way to the tryline, the All Blacks produced offload after to offload to ensure a lightning quick pace and it was those offloads which won them the game.

There were 10 Kiwi offloads in the first 40 but it was some quick thinking from Aaron Smith which created the first try.

With the Lions switched off in preparation for a simple Beauden Barrett penalty, Smith showed terrific initiative to spot Cody Taylor on his lonesome on the right wing and send the ball his way.

A couple of crisp passes from Barrett and Israel Dagg and a spectacular Taylor pickup later and the All Blacks had opened up a 10-0 lead.

Owen Farrell and Barrett traded a penalty each soon after but in the 33rd minute, the Lions scored a magical try - one of the best seen around the world this year.

It started with a Liam Williams break, the fullback leaving Sonny Bill Williams clutching at air as he steamed into open play and found Daly, who offloaded to Davies, who found a beautiful support line from Sean O'Brien for a stunning try.Cody Taylor scored the first try of the night. Photo: Getty ImagesThat left the score at 13-8 as both teams headed for the sheds, the game poised for a fantastic final 40 minutes.

Davies, Liam Williams and Watson were spectacular at the start of the second half.

That trio launched two counterattacking raids which went agonisingly close to adding the tourists' second but the All Blacks held on by the skin of their teeth.

Had Ben Teo shifted the ball to a two-on-one at the end of the first raid, the Lions may have had their noses in front.

The All Blacks wrestled ascendency back and a monster scrum was the catalyst for Rieko Ioane's try.

Aaron Smith picked the ball up off the back of the big shove from 30 out and found a flying Dagg, who dished to Cruden, who hit Ioane on the chest for a very well worked try.

That was followed by another Barrett penalty, which proceeded what would be the final nail in the Lions' coffin.

A TJ Perenara box kick was dropped by Liam Williams, with Ioane cleaning up the loose ball and running 50 metres to score a scintillating try.

Rhys Webb came on and scored a consolation try after the siren but this was an ominous performance from the All Blacks.

They figured the Lions out in the space of 50 minutes and never looked back.

Whether Warren Gatland makes changes or not, an intriguing second Test awaits.

RESULT

All Blacks 30

Tries: Taylor, Ioane 2

Cons: Barrett 3

Pens: Barrett 3

British and Irish Lions 15

Tries: O'Brien, Webb

Cons: Farrell

Pens: Farrell

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