Saturday 20 January 2018

Test XV unlikely to be affected - Five things we learned from the Lions 34-6 win over the Chiefs

Jared Payne
Jared Payne
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

The Lions were comprehensive 34-6 winners over the Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton this morning. Here's what we gleaned from the game.

1. Lawes and Henderson dominate the opposition lineout

The fact that Iain Henderson and Courtney Lawes appear to be behind George Kruis, Alun Wyn-Jones and Maro Itoje in the pecking order shows the strength-in-depth in this area.

The Ulster lock looks a different player from the one that performed so abysmally against the Provincial Barbarians and his form means he must be in the mix for a place in Warren Gatland's matchday 23. His pass for Nowell's second try was perfection.

The Chiefs were not helped by the throwing of Liam Polwart which was awful. Nowell's second try came directly from an over-throw.

A couple of crooked throws from Rory Best in the second half will not help his cause for test inclusion.

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17 June 2017; Iain Henderson of the British & Irish Lions in action against Nehe Milner-Skudder of the Maori All Blacks during the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
 

2. CJ Stander gets forward momentum

The Munster number 8 carried frequently last week against the Highlanders but was ineffective and was turned over repeatedly.

It was a different story today with the South African-born back rower consistently getting over the gainline as well as being a gargantuan presence in defence.

He carried 22 times for 48 metres last week but was more effective in Hamilton today.

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British and Irish Lions' CJ Stander is tackled during the tour match at the FMG Stadium, Hamilton.

3. Did anyone put up their hand for selection?

The back three is the area where players had the opportunity to raise their hands for selection.

Jack Nowell finished both his tries brilliantly but his defence woes against the Blues have not been forgotten and will count against him.

Liam Williams ran some brilliant lines, in particular his mazy run that led to Jared Payne's score but Halfpenny may be retained for his goalkicking. He never had to make a tackle all day but carried nine times for 87 metres.

George North will face an anxious wait to see if he manages to cling on to his place on the wing.

It looks like Gatland has already decided on 21-22 players for his squad on Saturday but he'll be delighted to see so many players playing well.

Henshaw and Payne played very well but are unlikely to dislodge Ben Te'o and Jonathan Davies.

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British and Irish Lions' Jared Payne goes over for a try during the tour match at the FMG Stadium, Hamilton.

4. Penalty the joint top tryscorer on Tour

Such has been the lack of penetration in the Lions attack that no player has scored more tries than the number of penalty tries awarded to the tourists. Two.

Jack Nowell's brace today means that he is level with 'PT' at the head of the standings.

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Jack Nowell of the British & Irish Lions score his side's third try during the match between the Chiefs and the British & Irish Lions at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

5. Scrum power will worry Steve Hansen

The Chiefs scrum was completely obliterated by the Lions' midweek front five. The Lions have been on top in this area over the six games so far.

Warren Gatland will be hoping for wet conditions and a stop-start encounter at Eden Park this weekend.

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Rory Best of the British & Irish Lions speaks with referee Jerome Garces following a scrum during the match between the Chiefs and the British & Irish Lions at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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