Thursday 14 December 2017

Liam Williams and Elliot Daly confident they have found chink in All Blacks armour despite defeat

British and Irish Lions' Liam Williams tries to get past New Zealand's Rieko Ioane (left) during the first test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park
British and Irish Lions' Liam Williams tries to get past New Zealand's Rieko Ioane (left) during the first test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park

Jack de Menezes

Liam Williams and Elliot Daly believe that the way they cut open the All Blacks proves that they are vulnerable and can be beaten in the second Test next week in Wellington, which is already a must-win scenario for the British and Irish Lions.

The Lions suffered a 30-15 defeat by New Zealand at Eden Park but they lit up the Auckland stadium shortly before half-time when Williams started a counter-attack that resulted in the ball going through four pairs of Lions hands before seeing Sean O’Brien finish one of the all-time great tries.

Williams was selected by Warren Gatland at full-back ahead of Leigh Halfpenny due to his ability to create something out of nothing, and he more than delivered in the 36th minute with the flowing move that got the Lions back into the game.

“I love playing 15 and I love having the ball in hand and I love having a run,” Williams said after weighing up the highs and lows of the first Test. “There are times when you have to stick it long or go up to the air. It was on and I had a go and at the end of that move we’d scored in the left-hand corner.

“I looked up, I saw a bit of space and I just stuck my head down. I think it was [Aaron] Cruden [in front]. I had the ball, I had loads of chat off the blind winger, the open winger, all of the team. I looked up and there was a bit of space there.

“I literally lifted up my head, I’ve seen a bit of a mismatch and I just took him on the outside.”

The move saw the ball go through all two of the back-three’s hands in Williams and then Daly, before the ball was passed in side to Jonathan Davies and finally to flanker O’Brien.

Williams, Daly and Anthony Watson linked up again in the second half with another flowing move that nearly produced a second try in the space of 10 minutes, and the backs are taking confidence even in defeat that they have found a chink in the armour of the reigning world champions.

“It has given us the belief that we can do it,” said Daly. “You’ve got to attack the All Blacks. When we did in large parts we played well when we got through our phases. We just have to look at opportunities where we can score a few more tries.

“I definitely feel this series is still alive. We’re really looking forward to building as a team. We know we’ve got to go there and win now. It’s still a good chance for us.

“We really back our attack, especially our counter-attack.  At the back we are very quick and we like to counter-attack as much as possible. We created chances but we need to convert them into tries when we do get those chances.”

Despite the 15-point margin, the match was a much closer affair and, had it not been for three lapses in concentration that cost the Lions dear, the result could have been a very different story.

The Lions still left points out on the pitch though, and Daly admitted that the Lions squad need to take a leaf out of the All Blacks’ play book on order to maximise their scoring potential.

“I didn’t think we were that far away,” Daly added. “They just took their chances, they had three good chances and took them and we will have to look at how they got that and got into those situations.

“I think in large parts of the game they played well. I think we will look at it and see what we need to work on next week. We know we have to win and we are looking forward to it.”

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