Chiefs feel the pain from Lions midweek side

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Lynn McConnell     20 Jun 2017     Getty Images

Four days out from the first Test it was a welcome fillip for the tourists who hadn't won a midweek game on the tour. For the Chiefs there was no repeat of their 40-7 win over Wales last year.


And there were few chances to seriously test the tourists' defences as every attempted break was well smothered and when they attempted to open up the defences with chip kicks they lacked the accuracy to put the Lions under pressure.

It could have been crucial with 10 minutes remaining when another kick ahead was run back by the Lions and it was only a lamentable pass from replacement back Tommy Seymour to centre Jared Payne that denied the Lions another certain try.

While there was little impact from the performance for the Lions' Test selection, there was a triumph for team systems which will not have gone unnoticed.

The damage was done when the Lions score three second half tries within 10 minutes of each other. The first was from a penalty try after the Chiefs had been reduced to 14 when flanker Mitchell Brown was sin-binned for taking down a maul.

Then, after getting their own chance to reply with a lineout 10m out from the Lions line, the Chiefs threw too long at the lineout and the Lions broke out from defence with the ball moved to wing Elliot Daly on the left flank. He made ground down the sideline before in-passing to centre Jared Payne and then on to second five-eighths Robbie Henshaw.

From the ruck the ball was quickly released and right wing Jack Nowell had the room to step inside his man and find the way for his second try.

Attempting to run the ball from their own 22m area, centre Tim Nanai-Williams attempted a chip kick to space by Nowell recovered the ball and fed fullback Liam Williams who opened up a big gap and when tackled slipped the ball to Payne who scored.

Earlier, in the first half, Williams made a telling excursion into the backline to take a gap and feed Nowell on a run for the corner. However, the cover defence nabbed him and the ball was recycled left. The ball went to a ruck just out from the line but Nowell had come across in cover and picked up the ball and dived over the ruck for the opening try.

It was very much a chess match in the first half although the home side were put under more pressure in their own 22m but took satisfaction from countering one attempt at a driving lineout maul. But from the resulting scrum first five-eighths Dan Biggar was lucky to escape more serious censure than a penalty for a head high swinging arm on Chiefs No.8 Tom Sanders.
Chiefs halfback Finlay Christie proved a lively performer and made one clean break off a planned move which came close to breaking the Lions defences.

The early exchanges saw prop Joe Marlar sin-binned after 11 minutes for a no arms late tackle while in the same movement Chiefs wing Toni Pulu suffered a knee injury after being ankle-tapped having slipped through and he had to be stretchered from the ground.

Scrums proved less of a concern from those earlier in the tour although the best Lions scrum came when Marlar was in the sin-bin with replacement Allan Dell making an immediate impact as the Lions gained a key turnover in their own 22m area.

The Chiefs lineout also suffered an early loss when lock Courtney Lawes got up to contest, and steal, a Chiefs throw from Dominic Bird.

Scorers: Chiefs 6 (Stephen Donald 2 pen) British & Irish Lions 34 (Jack Nowell 2 Penalty try [7], Jared Payne tries; Dan Biggar 3 con, 2 pen). HT: 6-13