Surprise switch does it for All Blacks

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 14:16
Large aaron smith all blacks runs 800

B&I TOUR REACTION: All Blacks coach Steven Hansen said the surprise tactical switch of playing the British and Irish Lions at their own game did the trick after the world champions swept to victory in the first Test on Saturday.

Two tries from unexpected wing selection Rieko Ioane broke the game open in the second half as the New Zealand romped home 30-15, with the visitors' score boosted by a try on full-time. 

Rival coaches Hansen and Warren Gatland agreed before the long-awaited Test that it would be a battle of contrasting styles, with the free-spirited All Blacks known for their running game and the Lions favouring forward power and kick-and-chase.

But after a fruitless first 10 minutes for the All Blacks they overcame the much-vaunted Lions defensive line-speed by employing the tourists' close-quarter tactics, with scrumhalf Aaron Smith directing play. 

While Ioane's first try, midway through the second half, put the result beyond doubt, Hansen believed the turning point came much earlier. 

"It was more our ability to play off nine [A Smith] and hurt them, just getting behind them and taking away what they wanted to do. That was more the turning point.

"Once we really looked after the ball and stopped trying to offload and do the stuff we're known to do we built some real pressure by doing that time after time. 

"I don't know what the tackle count was but they had to make a lot of tackles and in the end that fatigues you, and when you're fatigued you make mistakes and that's really the turning point. That was the critical part of the game," the coach said.

When the All Blacks switched to playing tight they put on 10 points in five minutes. At half-time they led 13-8 and the score blew out to 30-8 before Rhys Webb scored a consolation try for the Lions on the stroke of full-time.

A disappointed Gatland had to admit his Lions were outsmarted by a superior forward pack and the All Blacks' decision to abandon their running game.

"They played very well up front. They did a good job of stopping our line speed. They came really hard off nine which got them some front foot ball and were very aggressive at the breakdown.

"The All Blacks haven't played champagne rugby, throwing the ball all over the place. In fairness to them, they were very direct up front so we need to make sure we are better in those areas," he said.

The Lions, who haven't won a Test series in New Zealand since 1971, need to win in Wellington next week to keep the three-match series alive.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 November 2017
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 17h30 Bloemfontein
Ulster v Treviso 19h05 Kingspan Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Leinster v Dragons 19h35 RDS Stadium
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 19h45 Kingston Park
Sat, 25 November 2017
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 12h45 Welford Road
Bath v Harlequins 12h45 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Edinburgh
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 17h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
Sun, 26 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Liberty Stadium
Kings v Scarlets 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 13h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 15h00 Allianz Park
London Irish v Wasps 15h00 Madejski Stadium
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
B&I Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Australia 0 0 0 0 0
Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
NSW-Queensland 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
NZ Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Maori All Blacks 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0