'Down and dirty' All Blacks have tip for Lions

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 08:02

REACTION: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has fired up the verbal war with the British and Irish Lions again, suggesting they play New Zealand's style to be competitive in the second Test in Wellington next week.

The world champion All Blacks put away their razzle dazzle to get "down and dirty" when they beat the Lions 30-15 in the first Test in Auckland on Saturday. 

With the Lions outsmarted at their own game, and losing the crucial forward battle, Hansen recommended they run the ball more often because that was when they were at their most dangerous.

They were a whisker away from scoring in the opening minute when they took the All Blacks by surprise and went wide only for Elliott Daly to be rolled on his back and forced into touch as he dived for the line.

The Lions then stunned Hansen with an 85-metre sweep featuring Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies and Daly before flank Sean O'Brien finished the move with a try. 

"When they can score tries like that first one you're sitting there thinking they should be doing that more often," Hansen said. 

"That was probably one of the best Test tries I've ever seen."

It was an observation taken on board by Gatland who regretted his Lions suffered from a lack of finishing skills.

"You could argue that Ben Te'o's an option to shift the ball and create an opportunity for an overlap chance," he said.

"You finish those chances and it changes the whole mindset and momentum of the game and unfortunately we created those and didn't quite finish them off."

Instead, the Lions persisted with trying to prove their declared aim of being the best forward pack in the world and Hansen said they lost that battle too.

"Our tight five were very, very good. If your tight five do the job everyone else can play. The Test was always going to be won in the tight five and I think we won that battle ... we've got to be extremely proud of what they did," he said. 

"I always find it amusing when everyone tells us they're going to beat us up in the tight five because we're not just a team that plays flashy rugby, we can play down and dirty rugby if we have to, and I mean that in the most respectful way."

With the Lions needing to win the second Test in Wellington next week to keep the series alive, Gatland said the tourists now "know what to expect".

But All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster warned the world champions had not shown their full arsenal.

"We went into this game with a plan to combat them and we showed everything we needed to show," Foster said.

"There's some things we can improve, you'll just have to wait and see."

The first Test win came at a price for the All Blacks with Ben Smith failing a concussion Test and Ryan Crotty suffering a hamstring strain.

Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie has been called up as cover for Smith, with uncapped Jack Goodhue, the Crusaders centre, filling the vacancy in the midfield.

Agence France-Presse