Missed chances cost Lions

The British & Irish Lions were made to pay for not taking their try-scoring opportunities in Auckland, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.

The Lions slumped to a disappointing 30-15 defeat in the first Test, but the result could have been different had they scored a try early in the first half, and again early in the second.

In the first minute of the match, Jonathan Davies broke through the All Blacks defence and put Conor Murray into space. The scrumhalf was brought down just short of the tryline, before the Lions sent the ball wide to Elliot Daly, who went over in the left-hand corner. But replays showed that Israel Dagg's cover tackle had forced the winger to put a foot into touch before dotting down. Murray may also have wondered whether he could have gone over himself had he had a proper crack.

What a boost an early try would have been for the Lions. Instead, it was the All Blacks who went on to lead 10-0 after 17 minutes.

The Lions fought back well to trail 13-8 at half-time, thanks to one of the all-time great tries. Aaron Cruden's kick into the Lions' 22 was picked up by Liam Williams, who stepped Kieran Read, brushed off Cruden's tackle and took play up to halfway before finding Davies. He passed to Daly, who returned the favour, and Davies put Sean O'Brien over for the try.

It showed what these Lions are capable of.

Unfortunately for them, they didn't take another try-scoring chance early in the second half that would have changed the complexion of the game.

Having won a turnover inside their own territory, the tourists sent the ball wide to Davies, who broke through Taylor's poor tackle. There was good interplay between him and Daley, and then between Murray and Anthony Watson, who was tackled just 4m out. When the Lions were unable to cross the line a couple of phases later, the referee went back for a penalty. They kicked for touch, won the lineout and then lost possession close to the tryline.

The Lions made another costly error five minutes later. Watson received the ball near halfway and beat four defenders to take play into the 22, but his pass failed to go to hand.

That was also the case in the 27th minute of the match, when Daley did well to collect Owen Farrell's cross-kick and burst away down the left-hand touchline, but couldn't find Davies on his inside.

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In contrast, the All Blacks took three of their four clear try-scoring chances.

Codie Taylor scored after a quick penalty tap from Aaron Smith, Rieko Ioane after Read's brilliant pass off the ground from a dominant scrum, and Ioane again after Williams failed to take a high ball.

On only one occasion did the hosts blow a five-pointer, when they knocked on close to the line in the second half.

If the Lions are to level the series in Wellington next Saturday, they will have to take the scoring chances that come their way, and put the All Blacks under scoreboard pressure going into the last quarter, when the world champions tend to lift their game.

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt