Lions tour: How the All Blacks triumphed in the first test
First blood to the All Blacks' in the wake of their 30-15 triumph over the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park on Saturday night. The post-match reviews, assessments, plotting and planning ahead of the second test in Wellington will already be well underway. Here's a re-cap of the action in Auckland and what needs to happen ahead of the match at the Cake Tin.
TOP FIVE MOMENTS AT EDEN PARK
1. That five-pointer by Lions flanker Sean O'Brien could prove to be the try of the tour. The movement started inside the 22m, Liam Williams searing 45m upfield. Jonathan Davies handled several times, Elliot Daly once. O'Brien ran his line perfectly to take the inside ball from Davies. A moment to savour, regardless of which team you support.
2. Rieko Ioane's second try vindicated the All Blacks' selectors decision to name him on the left wing ahead of Julian Savea. He had to take Daly on the outside and just accelerated away. Another wing, Anthony Watson, put the pedal flat. No chance of catching Ioane.
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3. Israel Dagg's tackle on Daly in the opening minutes was outstanding. Daly looked to have done enough to score, but the All Blacks fullback somehow prevented him getting the ball down near the corner flag.
4. Ben Te'o's mind explosion in the 44th minute will require some explaining when the Lions have their post-match debrief. The ABs were back-pedalling furiously when Te'o elected to duck inside - and slipped - rather than fling the ball to his right where Sean O'Brien and Taulupe Faletau were waiting. He blew a try.
5. Codie Taylor's try in the 18th minute. Alun Wyn Jones was penalised for slowing ruck ball, and the alert Aaron Smith took a quick tap 5m from the line. Within seconds Taylor was over in the right-hand corner. Fast hands by Beauden Barrett and Dagg, and a dynamite pick-up by Taylor, were all part of the fun.
THE BEST ALL BLACKS
1. Brodie Retallick
A machine in the tight, carried around the ruck edges. Just kept on going.
2. Kieran Read
First game in a couple of months. Made it look relatively easy. A superb athlete.
3. Sam Whitelock
Made 11 tackles - the most for the ABs. Not prominent with carries, but always willing to use his big body to barge into rucks and never took a rest.
THE BEST LIONS
1. Liam Williams
Yes, it was his blunder that led to Ioane's second try. But what about his running from broken play - put paid to talk of "Warrenball" being such a one-dimensional game plan.
2. Taulupe Faletau
Match-high count of 20 tackles. ABs mighty defence put paid to his running game.
3. Jonathan Davies
Good with the ball in hand. Carried strongly in the midfield. Missed some tackles, but wasn't alone there.
Seven out of 10. Had the Lions stayed in the fight, we would have been more generous. No complaints about the test lacking hype, excitement and tension. Both sides contributed to the narrative. Only one team in it in the end, though.
INJURY WARD UPDATE
The major concern for the All Blacks is that ace fullback Ben Smith suffered another concussion, leaving the field in the first half. His third this season. Damian McKenzie joins the squad as cover.
Centre Ryan Crotty will definitely miss the second test in Wellington because of the hamstring injury that forced him off. Crusaders team-mate Jack Goodhue remains with the squad as cover.
Matt Todd strained a calf in training. Akira Ioane has been told to stay with the squad to provide insurance.
Hooker Dane Coles will play no part in the series. He was named in the original squad despite being concussed. Symptoms are gone, we are told. But no way he will be match fit for the remaining tests.
Quiet night for the citing commissioner. We should be thankful for that, given the massive controversy that blew-up after Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu tried to bury Brian O'Driscoll head-first in the Lancaster Park soil in that first test 12 years ago.
WORK-ONS FOR ALL BLACKS
1. First thing is to sort out the backline, now Ben Smith and Crotty are injured. Dagg (who played very well on the right wing) is likely to go to fullback, and Waisake Naholo will probably be asked to start in that vacant spot. Anton Lienert-Brown will start at centre in place of Crotty.
2. Lineout footage will be pored over this week. A return of eight successes from 12 throws wasn't ideal.
3. Determining how French ref Jerome Garces will interpret the confusing rugby law book will be something to ponder. As will the scrum engagement - rulings may may differ from those offered by South African ref Jaco Peyper.
WORK-ONS FOR LIONS
1. Don't panic. Coach Warren Gatland must ensure his men remain upbeat, even though they will know the ABs will only get better. It is a fine line for a coach to tread. Gatland must demand improvements, but not at the expense of team morale.
2. Game plan. The Lions were determined not to rely on lineout drives - often electing to distribute quick ball off the top, instead - or a one-dimensional attack by repeatedly going up the guts with their big forwards. It didn't work. Time for a Plan B, C or D.
3. Get better at the breakdown. The ABs jumped ahead in this contest with their physical approach, determination and refusal to allow the Lions to harvest fast ball. Will Sam Warburton come back at No 7? And is he the answer anyway?
Jaco Peyper did many things well. Scrums rulings were fair, kept an eye on the offside line. Ben Te'o got penalised for a tough tackle on SBW. Could have easily been play on. Rating: 8.
With 25 minutes remaining the Lions were in with a shot of being the first team to clobber the All Blacks at Eden Park in 23 years.
Then precocious left wing Rieko Ioane struck for the All Blacks; he scored in the corner pocket, Beauden Barrett's conversion was successful and the hosts led 20-8.
That extinguished the Lions hopes of winning the first test.
And they have probably blown their best chance. The likelihood of the tourists claiming a positive result against a team that will probably be much better in the next two games seems remote.
With 10 minutes remaining Ioane snaffled his second try, putting the result beyond doubt. He had to work for that one. Lions fullback Liam Williams fluffed a high kick from TJ Perenara, Ioane pocketed the loose ball and gassed away from Elliot Daly.
It would be scant consolation to the Lions, but they scored the try of the game when Sean O'Brien finished off a lovely long-range movement late in the first half.
Williams kicked things off from inside his 22m, blasting off on a long run and eventually Jonathan Davies contributed with a terrific offload to O'Brien.
Something for the northerners to cheer about, for sure.
But the All Blacks deserved this win. Too clinical with that game plan of using runners close to the rucks to negate the blitz defence, too good with the ball in hand.
Rieko Ioane 91
Kieran Read 59
Sonny Bill Williams 49
Israel Dagg 48
Sam Whitelock 11
Joe Moody 9
Sam Cane 9
Kieran Read 8
Penalties conceded: 6
Missed tackles: 17
Kicks from hand: 33
Liam Williams 80
Jonathan Davies 77
Anthony Watson 53
Sean O'Brien 44
Taulupe Faletau: 20
Jamie George: 17
George Kruis: 16
Peter O'Mahoney: 13
Penalties conceded: 11
Missed tackles: 21
Kicks from hand: 25