Lions struggle to 13-7 win in New Zealand tour opener

  • Lions struggle to 13-7 win in New Zealand tour opener

Lions struggle to 13-7 win in New Zealand tour opener

Admittedly, there was always likely to be some rustiness on show in the opening match of this ten-game tour, and Gatland's men looked every inch a side that stepped off the plane just three days ago.

The high ball which was rarely seen in the first half again proved a useful weapon for the Lions in the second half as the Barbarians wingers, who were so risky in attack did not look as composed under the aerial threat.

Though Johnny Sexton registered the first points of the tour with a penalty, the opening try came from the hosts as Sam Anderson-Heather bundled his way through.

They'll need to quickly rectify those errors to defeat the Blues on Wednesday.

"We said we'll never get this chance again. Some things to work on but a win is a win".

Asked if his main emotion after the match was one of relief, Gatland answered: "No, not really. That's a learning from tonight, there's a few things collectively, but definitely individually some of the decision-making that will help us improve moving forward in the next few games". They would have seen the Lions profligacy and struggles under the high ball, but will be facing an altogether different team on Wednesday at Eden Park.

The head coach said some players were still struggling to adjust to their sleep patterns after their long-haul flight that took in an extra stop in Melbourne as part of their Qantas sponsorship. The Saracens fly half's first contribution was to release Ross Moriarty - another of the few players who can be pleased with his contribution - into the Barbarians 22, with the ball eventually finding its way back onto Farrell's hands to ship it to Watson to cross the line.

The last time the Lions were in New Zealand, in a 2005 tour, they were held to 17-all at half-time in their first match against the provincial Bay of Plenty side before pulling away to win 34-20.

"If coach Warren Gatland had a worst case scenario in mind for the Lions performance, his team surpassed it".

Tries: Sam Anderson-Heather. Cons: Gatland.

"We got up this morning and we remembered what we were like as kids, looking at games like this", Bryn Gatland said.

Harlequins' Kyle Sinckler got through plenty of work in the loose on his very first global start and was one of the stand-out performers in the Lions front five. Interpretation will not be such an issue with neutral refs in the tests but in the dirt tracker games it doesn't look like the tourists will be allowed to flex their muscle. You'd much rather have that than a 50-point win.

Gatland's Lions now go to Waitangi for their welcome ceremony before travelling to Auckland to start preparations for the Blues.

"We knew it was going to be hard in terms of adjusting to that and preparing in such a short period".