25 Jun 2017

All Blacks beat Lions to take one-nil series lead

12:03 am on 25 June 2017

The All Blacks have beaten the Lions 30-15 in Auckland after a dominating second half, which included two tries from bolter Rieko Ioane.

Watch match highlights here:

They now have a one-nil lead in the three-Test series.

The first half at Eden Park was a tight affair, but the British and Irish Lions were not able to capitalise on their opportunities in the second period.

Rieko Ioane after scoring his second try, celebrating with TJ Perenara.

Rieko Ioane after scoring his second try, celebrating with TJ Perenara. Photo: PhotoSport

The All Blacks survived an early scare after a Jonathan Davies line-break and a good run by Conor Murray, but Israel Dagg was able to hold Elliot Daly off the line with a superb tackle.

See how the game unfolded with Jamie wall's live blog here.

First blood went to the All Blacks when the Lions were pinged at the ruck. Beauden Barrett kicked the penalty to put the first points on the board.

Codie Taylor goes in for the first try.

Codie Taylor goes in for the first try. Photo: PhotoSport

A few minutes later Aaron Smith made the most of a quick tap, then Dagg sent a pinpoint pass out to Codie Taylor, who scored the first try of the game.

Barrett's conversion gave the All Blacks a 10-0 lead.

Full-back Ben Smith had to leave the field with a suspected concussion, which meant Barrett shifted back, and Aaron Cruden came on at first-five.

In the 30th minute the Lions got on the board, courtesy of an Owen Farrell penalty.

All Black Ryan Crotty had to limp off with a hamstring injury and was replaced with Anton Lienert-Brown.

Barrett landed another penalty to give the All Blacks a 13-3 lead.

The Lions then executed a glorious try, which started with a Liam Williams break and was finished off by Sean O'Brien.

The All Blacks had a 13-8 lead at half-time.

Sean O'Brien scores the Lions' first try.

Sean O'Brien scores the Lions' first try. Photo: PhotoSport

Just after the break, the Lions went on the counter-attack after Williams made another impressive break and the Lions created a couple of opportunities early, but failed to finish them off.

In the 54th minute, rookie Rieko Ioane scored the All Blacks' second try, which was set up by a superb scrum and the All Blacks extended their lead to 20-8.

Minutes later Barrett kicked another penalty and the Lions started to struggle, holding off a relentless All Blacks attack.

Ioane put his blistering speed to full use when he scored his second try off a turnover, and with Barrett's conversion the All Blacks went up 30-8.

In the last minute of the game, Rhys Webb scored a consolation try for the Lions.

After not having played in almost two months, captain Kieran Read made an outstanding return.

Hansen told reporters the performance was proof the All Blacks could find multiple ways to win - from razzle-dazzle to tactical nous and front-row muscle.

They'd also neutralised the Lions' much-vaunted line speed by playing astutely off halfback Aaron Smith, which tired their opponents.

The Lions made 165 tackles to the All Blacks' 97.

"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 can play flashy rugby. We can play down-and-dirty rugby too if we have to," Hansen said.

"Since Adam was a cowboy, if your tight five do a job, everyone else can play - tonight's Test was always going to be won in the tight five and I think we won that battle, but that doesn't guarantee we'll win it next week."

While the Lions failed to seize on their 20 minutes of ascendancy, the All Blacks ruthlessly took their opportunities.

Codie Taylor emulated incumbent No.2 Dane Coles by collecting a pass off his bootlaces to score the side's first five-pointer in the 18th minute, before freshly introduced props Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumuina helped create Ioane's first by monstering their counterparts at an attacking second-half scrum.

Ioane, in his first Test start, then capitalised on a Liam Williams dropped ball to streak away and place the match beyond the Lions' reach.

They'll need to find a second attacking gear - and quickly - to turn the three- Test series around next week in Wellington.

Hansen expected that to be the case.

"So many times in sport, the winning team gets knocked over the next week. So, this team has always worked on the mantra that we want to be better, and we don't always achieve that but that's what we strive to do," Hansen said.

"The team executed the plan very, very well. It wasn't perfect but it is only our second Test for the year, so we'll build from that."

However vice captain Ben Smith and centre Crotty are injury concerns for the rest of the series.

Fullback Smith failed a head injury assessment during the first half, while Crotty limped off later in the spell with a hamstring injury and will definitely miss next week's test in Wellington, coach Steve Hansen said.

"Ben Smith failed a concussion test and he will go through the protocols," Hansen told reporters. "Ryan Crotty has pulled his hammy, so we already had Jack Goodhue in as a replacement to help him out with his ribs.

"Jack will be staying with us, and we will try to get Ryan ready maybe for the last test if we're lucky."

Hansen said earlier on Saturday that hooker Dane Coles had been ruled out of the series due to fitness issues after he had been unable to train since March with knee and calf injuries and then concussion symptoms.

The Lions play the Wellington Hurricanes on Tuesday before the second test next Saturday in New Zealand's capital.

The series concludes on July 8 with the third test in Auckland.

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