British and Irish Lions Tour: Things We Learnt From The First Test


Our rugby scribe takes a look at what we learnt from the All Blacks' 15 point victory over the Lions. 

The first Test is done and dusted and there were some harsh lessons learnt by Warren Gatland and his men. But what can we take away from this clash? We’ll take a look at some of the things that caught my eye below.

Rieko Ioane is the Real Deal
At only 20 years of age, young Rieko has already displaced Julian Savea from the All Black side. The Blues man has been the standout player for the New Zealand sides on this tour, bagging a try for the Blues during their clash with the Lions midweek team and then getting a double against the full strength side in the 1st Test. And I wouldn't be surprised if he adds a few more to that impressive tally this coming Saturday.

Run Lions Run
85-metres out from the All Blacks try line, the Lions mustered one of the greatest off the cuff attacks the rugby world has ever seen with Liam Williams sparking play with a step on Kieran Read; Elliot Daily’s shimmy creating space where there seemed to be none for Robbie Henshaw to link up with Irish compatriot Sean O’Brien.

The Lions actually looked really good with ball-in-hand during the Test and if it wasn’t for some poor decision making, they may have actually pulled off a win. Hopefully, we’ll see Gatland’s men continue to be adventurous come Saturday. That Sean O’Brien try will go down in the annals of history as one of the best ever scored by a Lions team.

Kieran Reed
He’s an absolute freak. I mean, to be out of action since April and then put in a display like he did in the first Test is remarkable. Not only did Read make 19 ball carries but he also was a beast on defence – Owen Farrell won’t forget that monstrous hit on him from the Crusaders man anytime soon. But the thing that impressed me the most about the return of the New Zealand skipper was his captaincy.

Read is undoubtedly a ‘lead through actions’ sort of skipper but there were a few moments on Saturday where you could see his charges lift their intensity after the big man had spoken to them during sporadic breaks in play.

Smith Delivers on the Biggest Stage
I penned an opinion piece last week stating that I thought it was time for TJ Perrenara to take over from Aaron Smith as the All Blacks starting nine. I wasn’t the only rugby writer echoing this sentiment, with a host of New Zealand publications also asking the question. Well, the Highlanders man proved all of us wrong with a brilliant display from the base. He was energetic, boxed-smart - both in terms of kicking from the base and decision making – and his distribution was silky smooth. Another performance like that will go a long way to securing that number nine jersey for the next half decade.

Last Quarter Black Out
The last twenty minutes of New Zealand games are an absolute gift horse for rugby points punters. The Kiwis once again illustrated how dangerous they are during the final quarter, running in two tries while the Lions could only muster one in return. And while most people will tell the All Blacks late try-scoring frenzies are only down to their crazy fitness levels and the opposition tiring, this doesn’t just occur by chance. No, sir, the All Blacks wear their opponents down and then when they bring fresh legs off the bench, run amock.

Written by Darry Worthington for!

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