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Dublin: 15 °C Tuesday 25 September, 2018
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Good morning and welcome along to our live coverage of the Lions’ final midweek fixture of the tour as Warren Gatland’s side face the defending Super Rugby champions four days out from the second Test match.

Kick off at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington is at 8.35am.

The Lions are in the house and CJ Stander looks absolutely pumped!

A view of Westpac Stadium Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

CJ Stander before the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Warren Gatland Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Iain Henderson and Rory Best Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Team news: Before we look at a full run down of the starting XVs for this morning’s game, Jared Payne has been ruled out and is replaced on the bench by Leigh Halfpenny. The Ireland international reported with a headache earlier in the day.

As we saw last week, the Test door is far from shut for those involved in the midweek games and it’s a big night for the likes of Iain Henderson and Robbie Henshaw with it being their last chance to push their case for inclusion.

Rory Best skippers the Lions again tonight while CJ Stander starts in the backrow alongside Justin Tipuric and James Haskell.

Lions:

15. Jack Nowell
14. Tommy Seymour
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. George North
10. Dan Biggar
9. Greig Laidlaw

1. Joe Marler
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Dan Cole
4. Iain Henderson
5. Courtney Lawes
6. James Haskell
7. Justin Tipuric
8. CJ Stander

Replacements:

16. Kristian Dacey
17. Allan Dell
18. Tomas Francis
19. Cory Hill
20. George Kruis
21. Gareth Davies
22. Finn Russell
23. Leigh Halfpenny

Hurricanes:

15. Jordie Barrett
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder
13. Vince Aso
12. Ngani Laumape
11. Julian Savea
10. Otere Black
9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

1. Ben May
2. Ricky Riccitelli
3. Jeffrey To’omaga-Allen
4. Mark Abbott
5. Sam Lousi
6. Vaea Fifita
7. Callum Gibbins
8. Brad Shields (captain)

Replacements:

16. Leni Apisai
17. Chris Eves
18. Mike Kainga
19. James Blackwell
20. Reed Prinsep
21. Kemara Hauiti-Parapara
22. Wes Goosen
23. Cory Jane

Referee: Romain Poite [FFR].

A helicopter has just landed on the halfway line to deliver the match ball. Standard.

With additional seating installed for tonight’s game, a crowd of just under 40,000 are inside the Westpac Stadium and the atmosphere is electric as the teams emerge from the sheds.

There’ll be no haka this evening so we’re just about all set for kick off.

3Mins

The Lions look to put down an early marker with a couple of phases of possession before launching a kick into the Wellington sky. The Hurricanes respond and look to run it wide but Jordie Barrett knocks it on and we’ll have our first scrum of the night.

4Mins

Jack Nowell’s selection at fullback was an interesting one from Gatland and he has been heavily involved in the opening exchanges so far. Nehe Milner-Skudder chips it over the top and Nowell has to come across and cover, before the Lions clear their lines.

7Mins

A pretty scrappy start to proceedings in Wellington as Rory Best becomes the latest player to knock on. The Hurricanes are then penalised at the scrum and Biggar brings play up towards the 22.

9Mins

The Hurricanes are up quickly but Roman Poite says the home side were offside in that last passage of play and Biggar has the chance to open the scoring here.

9Mins

Penalty! Hurricanes 0-3 Lions (Biggar)

No mistake from the Welsh out-half as he registers the first points of the evening.

11Mins

Iain Henderson needs a big performance to put himself in contention for Saturday and the Ulster man made a big carry from the restart. Nowell then takes the ball into contact and wins the penalty after being tackled high by Barrett.

11Mins

The Lions tap and go through Joseph and again the Hurricanes are caught offside, with the natives not happy with the officiating against their side.

12Mins

But they get the decision on that occasion. The Hurricanes have been impressive in defence so far and they do brilliantly to hold Henderson up and force the turnover. 14 minutes gone in Wellington.

12Mins

Good atmosphere inside the stadium but the game has been pretty average so far with little or no intensity to proceedings. All a bit stop-start at the moment.

14Mins

The Lions put the pressure on the Hurricanes’ scrum but the hosts stand firm and eventually run it out of their own territory through Ngani Laumape, who wins the penalty after a red shirt fails to roll away.

The Super Rugby outfit win the lineout and for the first time look to stretch the Lions but Jack Nowell does well to take Julian Savea down.

Flag 15Mins

TRY! Hurricanes 0-10 Lions (Seymour)

Smash and grab from the Lions! Seymour makes a big hit in defence and Greig Laidlaw reads it brilliantly to intercept and streak clear. He doesn’t have the pace but offloads superbly to Seymour who runs it under the posts.

16Mins

Oh no this isn’t good as Robbie Henshaw gingerly limps off and is replaced by Leigh Halfpenny, who wasn’t in the original 23 for this game. That change means a slight reshuffle in the Lions backline with North shifting to centre and Nowell out to the wing.

20Mins

The Lions enjoying the best of this contest so far and win another penalty as Joseph is taken out in the air. Biggar is lining this one up from range.

23Mins

Penalty! Hurricanes 0-13 Lions (Biggar)

And he nails it! A superb kick from the out-half as the Lions stretch their advantage.

24Mins

The Hurricanes have yet to get going as their indiscipline continues to cost them but Laumape looks to inject some life into his side’s performance with an explosive burst through midfield but again the Lions scramble and shut the door.

Flag 27Mins

TRY! Hurricanes 7-13 Lions (Gibbins)

The pressure eventually pays off as Callum Gibbins burrows his way over from close range. Barrett adds the conversion.

28Mins

A chance for the Lions to respond with a score of their own as the ‘Canes concede another silly penalty with Ben May pinged for blocking. Biggar calls for the tee.

30Mins

Penalty! Hurricanes 7-16 Lions (Biggar)

Three from three for Biggar as he slots it between the posts.

38Mins

TRY! Hurricanes 7-23 Lions (North)

Biggar misses touch with a penalty from hand but the Lions get possession back and the out-half’s up-and-under causes the Hurricanes problems. The loose ball falls for Henderson, who deftly offloads for the supporting North to run it under the posts.

40Mins

The Hurricanes looking to finish an otherwise poor half with a bang as Julian Savea charges down the left, but Henderson is immense in defence again. We’re going back for a penalty on the far side and the hosts kick for the corner.

Flag 41Mins

Half time! Hurricanes 7-23 Lions 

The Lions stand firm and hold out to take a 16-point advantage into the break.

47Mins

A fine half of rugby from the Lions and a couple of players — Henderson and Nowell, in particular — have put their hands up with impressive showings so far.

Tommy Seymour and George North crossed for the tourists in that opening 40 minutes, with Dan Biggar nailing a couple of penalties to hand the Lions control of this contest.

41Mins

We’re back underway! Henderson and Lawes reappear for the second half with both hoping to be pulled aside sooner rather than later.

43Mins

TRY! Hurricanes 14-23 Lions (Laumape)

What a start from the Hurricanes. Vince Aso sets Julian Savea free and into space, before he finds Laumape outside him to power over in the corner. The Lions were cut open there.

43Mins

Biggar bounced off Laumape has he looked to make the covering tackle and the Welsh 10 is going off for a HIA with Finn Russell on in his place.

45Mins

The Lions concede a scrum penalty and Barrett decides he’s going to have a shot at the posts here, but just pulls his effort from 50 metres out and it’s as you were.

47Mins

Biggar is back on after that HIA as the Hurricanes continue to knock on the door. The Lions really up against it here.

49Mins

The Hurricanes are starting to motor now and Savea looks to cut through again but the Lions scramble well and close off that avenue. We’re going back for the penalty and Poite has a word with Rory Best.

49Mins

Penalty! Hurricanes 17-23 Lions (Barrett)

And now we have a one-score game as Barrett makes no mistake this time.

49Mins

Brilliant again from the imperious Henderson as he charges down the attempted clearance and the Lions have a penalty advantage inside the Hurricanes 22.

50Mins

Yellow! Poite loses patience with the ‘Canes and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi is the man sent to the bin.

50Mins

Penalty! Hurricanes 17-26 Lions (Biggar)

Biggar is fine and back on and slots over the penalty from in front of the posts to extend the Lions’ advantage back to nine points.

51Mins

Henderson is surely playing himself into the 23 for Saturday as he makes another charging break and very nearly finishes off the move under the posts but is just held up. The Ulster second row has been everywhere this evening.

52Mins

The TMO is taking a close look at this grounding from Henderson but it’s hard to see if he got the ball down or whether Barrett did enough to hold it up. We’re going back for a five metre scrum.

Flag 54Mins

TRY! Hurricanes 17-31 Lions (Seymour)

Stander peels away off the back of the scrum and after the forwards chip away, the ball is spread wide where Seymour runs in his second try of the evening. Biggar’s conversion drifts wide.

57Mins

George North celebrates scoring their second try with Justin Tipuric Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Tommy Seymour on his way to scoring their first try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Dan Cole with Julian Savea and Ben May Source: Photosport/Raghavan Venugopal/INPHO

61Mins

20 minutes remaining and the Lions are in a very commanding position now.

63Mins

North is almost in for his second after latching onto Joseph’s grubber through but the Welsh winger’s foot is just in touch as he collected and dived over. The Lions are then penalised at the line out and the ‘Canes pump it downfield.

68Mins

Yellow! Iain Henderson is in trouble here as he’s penalised for a dangerous tackle on Jordie Barrett. After consulting with his TMO, Poite sends the Ulster man to the bin.

Flag 68Mins

TRY! Hurricanes 24-31 Lions (Goosen)

Barrett launches the penalty deep into Lions territory and then he spreads it wide with a glorious looped pass to give Goosen the simple task of running it in. All to play for now with 12 minutes remaining.

69Mins

The Lions look out on their feet and are really being stretched with just 14 men on the field. Gatland still refraining from bringing any of the six call-ups on the field.

70Mins

The Hurricanes have all the momentum now and after North is pinged for going off his feet, the hosts kick to the corner.

Flag 71Mins

TRY! Hurricanes 31-31 Lions (Fifita)

And we’re level! The Hurricanes have the extra man and are making it count as Fifita dives over under the posts.

72Mins

Three minutes to go on Henderson’s sin bin, but Halfpenny has dropped a regulation catch inside the Lions half and now the Hurricanes have an attacking scrum.

74Mins

Laumape finds the hole and bursts through but the Hurricanes are stopped for now as the Lions filter back and stand firm. Henderson is ready to come back on.

76Mins

Desperate defence from the Lions as the ‘Canes inch towards the line — but they knock it on and the Lions hold on! Henderson is back on for the final three minutes.

78Mins

Poite is again going upstairs to look at possible foul play during those 21 grueling phases of play, and Laumape is penalised for a neck roll on Halfpenny. Biggar has the chance to bring play back up towards halfway.

79Mins

The Lions win the line out and drive towards the Hurricanes 22 as they look to snatch victory in the dying embers.

80Mins

Nowell is held up and the referee calls a maul before awarding the scrum to the ‘Canes. The hooter goes off but we’ll have time for this final passage of play.

81Mins

The Hurricanes look to run it from deep but Biggar steals it and now the Lions are throwing it around.

81Mins

Biggar goes for the drop goal but doesn’t strike it cleanly and it falls short!

87Mins

A brilliant second half of rugby as the Hurricanes conjured a thrilling comeback to claim a share of the spoils. Read Murray Kinsella’s report from the Westpac Stadium here.

89Mins

Some reaction from Lions captain Rory Best, who was speaking to Sky Sports at full time:

“It’s very frustrating, they are the Super Rugby champions and a very good side. We’ll look back at mistakes that let them back into it.

“But to build two leads the way we did at this stage in the Tour, we’ve got to look at a few positives as well. You cannot fault the effort but we needed to be maybe a little more clinical at times.”

Tommy Seymour celebrates his try with Rory Best Source: James Crombie/INPHO

99Mins

Thanks for joining us this morning and we’ll have lots more reaction from Wellington throughout the day, including live analysis over on Facebook with Murray Kinsella and Eddie O’Sullivan.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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