Lions tour: Lions win sticks two fingers up to 'poisonous Kiwi critics' - UK media
The Lions stuck two fingers up to poisonous Kiwi critics after hammering the Chiefs in Hamilton, according to buoyant British media.
Warren Gatland's Lions won their first midweek game on tour by beating the Chiefs 34-6 in Hamilton on Tuesday.
It was their final outing before the first test at Eden Park on Saturday and the result was "the perfect springboard" for their first encounter with the All Blacks.
Owen Slot of The Times said the midweek men had given Gatland food for thought when picking his test team, as well as hitting back at criticism from within New Zealand.
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He wrote: "It was something of a relief, it triggered a big old sing-song in the changing room afterwards, it may just about have forced Warren Gatland to tinker with his squad for the first test and, though it was never remotely the intention, it stuck up two fingers to their poisonous Kiwi critics.
"Like the Saturday team, the midweek Lions' win over the Chiefs was built on defence. The Lions have now stopped two teams on this tour from scoring a try and the one they conceded against the Maori on Saturday came gift-wrapped after an error.
"Yes, these Chiefs were a weakened unit, but they never got close to a score.
"The Lions will continue to drive the same defence-wins philosophy. Now it is working, why change it? Here, though, was highlights-reel evidence that they are more than one dimensional.
Mick Cleary in the Telegraph said the Lions are "beginning to pen an entirely different narrative in a country where praise is only ever begrudgingly given."
He wrote: "The win, forged on the back on three tries in a 12-minute spell in the second-half, featured several splendid sequences of play, including a sweeping length-of-the-field collective try by Jack Nowell, his second of the night, that would have had the world genuflecting if it had been scored by the All Blacks as if pace, imagination and daring are the sole preserve of Kiwis."
Cleary added that this Lions group proved their "one-for-all" ethos existed despite the controversy surrounding Gatland's call-ups of four Welsh and two Scottish players based on practicality.
"There was enough evidence right throughout the evening of spirit and guts and togetherness to suggest that the entire group is on-message," he said.
"The test team will take great heart from the manner and the measure of this performance. New Zealanders are on alert. A cracking series is in prospect."
The Lions scored four tries - their best return on tour - against a depleted Chiefs outfit as the tourists continued to "suffocate" everyone they meet.
Robert Kitson of the Guardian said there was something about the body language of the Lions that "boded well" for the first test.
"The Lions clearly think they are a team on the up, and winning rugby matches in New Zealand is highly addictive," he said.
"In the past week they have played 240 minutes of rugby against the Crusaders, the Maori and the off-colour Chiefs, scoring 78 points and conceding 19, with just one solitary try conceded from a fumbled kick ahead.
"Suddenly it is the home teams who cannot get out of first gear or cross the try line."
Jack Nowell scored twice as the Lions crossed the line four times, with Jared Payne and a penalty try condemning the Chiefs to a heavy defeat.
But it's England winger Elliot Daly who stood out and The Independent's Jack de Menezes pointed to a possible hint of a spot on a bench for Saturday's test against the All Blacks.
"The big winner of the day looks like Elliot Daly though, with the Wasps back taken off in the 60th minute in what looks to be a sign from Gatland that he will play some part in Saturday's match at Eden Park."
3 June: NZ Barbarians v Lions - Toll Stadium, Whangarei
7 June: Blues v Lions - Eden Park, Auckland
10 June: Crusaders v Lions - AMI Stadium, Christchurch
13 June: Highlanders v Lions - Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
17 June: Māori All Blacks v Lions - Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
20 June: Chiefs v Lions - Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
24 June: All Blacks v Lions - Eden Park, Auckland
27 June: Hurricanes v Lions - Westpac Stadium, Wellington
1 July: All Blacks v Lions - Westpac Stadium, Wellington
8 July: All Blacks v Lions - Eden Park, Auckland