The New Zealand Maori tour of England has got off to a bad start, losing 32-24 to club side Leicester Tigers this morning.
Former Taranaki first five-eighth Willie Ripia converted an opening try from Frae Wilson for the Maori in the sixth minute.
It was the last time the tourists were in the lead, however, as the English club side ran out to a 22-7 lead after 30 minutes.
New Zealand Maori hit back with Tim Bateman's converted try just before half-time and a score for Charlie Ngatai after the break.
But George Ford's two second-half penalties in a personal tally of 22 points kept the scoreboard ticking over and secured the win.
It was a poor start for the tourists against a club side which was missing 10 first choice players because of international commitments.
Taranaki's Andre Taylor, Kurt Baker, Jarrad Hoeata and Jason Eaton all started for the Maori, with halfback Jamison Gibson-Park replacing Wilson in the second half.
The tourists did get close in the second half and reduced the score to 29-24 after Charlie Ngatai's try but the turning point came when Hoeata was yellow carded for killing the ball.
Leicester Tigers 32 (Niall Morris, Adam Thompstone tries; George Ford 2 con, 6 pen.) Maori All Blacks 24 (Frae Wilson, Tim Bateman, Charlie Ngatai tries; Willie Ripia 3 con, pen.) HT: 26-17
- © Fairfax NZ News
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