Banks penalty gives Highlanders win over Lions

Banks penalty gives Highlanders win over Lions

Tour awareness - Wherever the Lions have gone on this trip to New Zealand so far people have been aware of their presence - but in Dunedin that awareness went up another level.

CAPTAIN Sam Warburton blamed indiscipline for the British and Irish Lions' 23-22 defeat by the Highlanders in Dunedin.

"These are the challenges both as a team and individually that we knew we were going to face and it's an exciting opportunity for myself and us as a backline to try to go out and hopefully get the better of them".

He expects the Christchurch conditions to prevail for the rest of the tour.

Warburton's try lifted the Lions to a nine-point lead but they were unable to hold out the Highlanders, who scored tries through All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo and hooker Liam Coltman.

The Highlanders played the game at a dizzying pace which at times seemed to stretch the Lions, though the tourists also produced their best attacking play of the tour in scoring three tries to two.

Gatland has four days to regain ground lost after the Crusaders win ahead of the Lions' clash with the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua on Saturday.

Jack Nowell makes an early break.

Instead of taking control of the game, the Lions were immediately on the back foot and the Highlanders took full advantage.

"We gave away a line-out for their try after having cleared our lines", head coach Warren Gatland said.

Rhys Webb loses his grip on the ball with the try line in sight. Biggar's shot at goal missed.

Banks had no such problem after the Lions were completely overpowered in the scrum and it proved to be the decisive score, as two late chances for the tourists to salvage a result went begging. Lawes left the field and Sopoaga made it 10-3 to the Highlanders with the simple conversion. When the Highlanders brought it down irregularly, Webb went wide and, after fine-interplay from CJ Stander and Biggar, Joseph was unleashed down his channel.

The Lions produced a brilliant try to Joseph in which their backs at last showed finishing skill. We went in at half time drawing, started well in the second half and then got to 22-13 - we needed to be smarter to finish things off.

"It was very, very frustrating", the 34-year-old said of the scrum officiating on Tuesday.

Warburton said the Lions' discipline was disappointing.

The Highlanders won 10 of 11, with their crucial try to Liam Coltman on the hour mark coming off the back of a ideal lineout drive.

A subsequent huge scrum from the Highlanders saw them win a penalty that gave Marty Banks the chance to edge the Super Rugby outfit in front, knocking over a flawless kick.

HIGHLANDERS: R Buckman; W Naholo, M Fekitoa (M Banks, 11-16), T Walden, T Li (P Osborne, 68); L Sopoaga (M Banks, 55), K Hammington (J Renton, 76); D Leinert-Brown (A Seiuli, 59), L Coltman (G Pleasants-Tate, 68), S Tokolahi (S Halanukonuka, 68); A Ainley (J Dickson, 55), J Hemopo; G Evans, D Hunt (J Lentjes, 59), L Whitelock - captain.

"That's been the mindset from day one, and it's certainly not going to change now. We love that kind of play, we play like that as Highlanders".

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