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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 26 November 2020


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Good morning and welcome along to The42‘s live coverage of the Lions’ clash with the Maori All Blacks from the Rotorua International Stadium.

With just seven days until the first Test against the All Blacks, this morning’s game — the fifth of the tour — is seen as the big litmus test ahead of the return to Eden Park in Auckland next Saturday.

Warren Gatland’s side have had a mixed time of it of late and a big performance here would be a huge boost heading into the series with the world champions.

Kick off is at 8.35am and we’ll have all the build up right here.

The teams are in the house and the scene is set. It’s a big night for Peter O’Mahony, who captains the Lions.

A view of Peter O'Mahony's jersey Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of Lions players arriving into the changing room Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Peter O'Mahony Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Peter O'Mahony and Ash Dixon with Jaco Peyper at the coin toss Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of the game between the New Zealand Black Ferns and England Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

If you’re just waking up, there’s a few bits of news we ought to fill you in on before we go any further.

Wales back row Ross Moriarty has been ruled out of the remainder of the tour with a back injury, while Warren Gatland has added four Welsh players to his squad and is expected to confirm the addition of two Scots later.

Hooker Kristian Dacey, second row Cory Hill, tighthead Tomas Francis and scrum-half Gareth Davies have been officially been called up and Scotland’s Finn Russell and Allan Dell are expected to follow.

Ireland’s summer tour of USA and Japan continued this morning as Joe Schmidt’s men strolled to a comfortable 50-22 victory in the first Test against the Brave Blossoms, as Keith Earls continued his sensational form.

We’ll have a full report from the Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka shortly.

Keith Earls scores the first try of the game Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Time to take a check on the teams.

The Maori All Blacks have named a lethal-looking backline and certainly Colin Cooper’s side will possess huge threat all over the field, with Leinster fans sure to keep a close eye on fullback James Lowe.

Elsewhere, however, there is a sprinkling of quality with the likes of Milner-Skudder and Rieko Ioane starting.

inpho_01220669 Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The Lions, meanwhile, looked to have selected something close to their Test team with the injury to Owen Farrell giving Johnny Sexton another chance to stake his claim for Auckland.

Munster’s Peter O’Mahony captains the side while Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong and Sean O’Brien also start.

Māori All Blacks:

15. James Lowe
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder
13. Matt Proctor
12. Charlie Ngatai
11. Rieko Ioane
10. Damian McKenzie
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow

1. Kane Hames
2. Ash Dixon (captain)
3. Ben May
4. Joe Wheeler
5. Tom Franklin
6. Akira Ioane
7. Elliot Dixon
8. Liam Messam


16. Hika Elliot
17. Chris Eves
18. Marcel Renata
19. Leighton Price
20. Kara Pryor
21. Bryn Hall
22. Ihaia West
23. Rob Thomson


15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Ben Te’o
11. George North
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Maro Itoje
5. George Kruis
6. Peter O’Mahony (captain)
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Taulupe Faletau


16. Ken Owens
17. Jack McGrath
18. Kyle Sinckler
19. Iain Henderson
20. Sam Warburton
21. Greig Laidlaw
22. Dan Biggar
23. Elliot Daly

Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens while Murray Kinsella is in position in Rotorua as we bring you minute-by-minute coverage of the 2017 Lions tour.

As always, if you want to join the conversation, tweet us: @The42_ie, e-mail or post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Warren Gatland has been speaking to Sky Sports ahead of kick off:

Warren Gatland before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“We are knocking on the door. You can see why this is the best rugby nation in the world. It’s always going to be tough but it’s about preparing to win a Test series because that’s the most important thing.

“We are really happy with the quality of opposition we’re getting and it’s really preparing us nicely. You couldn’t ask for better preparation.”

Both teams have emerged from the tunnel and before we have the New Zealand national anthem and the traditional pre-match haka, we’re going to stop to remember those who were affected by the recent fire in London.


Strong start from the Lions and this is exactly what the tourists would have wanted as they apply some early pressure. Excellent ball retention and eventually Sexton picks the gap and he has Furlong on his shoulder, before the Lions win the penalty.

Flag 4Mins

PENALTY! Maori All Blacks 0-3 Lions (Halfpenny)

Halfpenny has been given the kicking duties and he makes no mistake with his first effort to give the Lions an early lead.


North fumbles Murray’s offload after the Ireland scrum-half peeled away from the back of a scrum and the Maori suddenly have a bit of space. Rieko Ioane has his first chance with ball in hand but Halfpenny scrambles well to make a brilliant tackle on that far side.

Murray’s box-kick then causes problems and Ioane, under pressure from Watson, knocks on and then one of his team-mates tries to gather the loose ball from an offside position.


PENALTY! Maori All Blacks 0-6 Lions (Halfpenny)

It wasn’t the easiest angle for the right-footed Halfpenny but he struck it well and the flags are raised. A strong start by the Lions.

Flag 11Mins

TRY! Maori All Blacks 7-6 Lions (Nessam)

Out of nothing, the Maori All Blacks strike. Nehe Milner-Skudder stabs through a grubber and it appears George North is there to cover but as he slides in to field the ball, he lets it slip from his grasp and Liam Messam kicks on and then dives on it. Damian McKenzie adds the extras.


A cheap, cheap score to giveaway from a Lions point of view. North had made up the ground to get across and cover but there was a lack of communication with Halfpenny, and the Welsh pair made an almighty mess of it.


Jonathan Sexton with Akira Ioane Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Maori All Blacks perform the Haka Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Leigh Halfpenny kicks a penalty Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


Bit of tennis here as Lowe and Anthony Watson exchange kicks before the Lions secure possession in midfield. It’s all a bit static but Jonathan Davies throws a glorious dummy to cut through but he’s hauled down just short of the line, and the Maori are then penalised for being offside.

O’Mahony consults with his team-mates and they’re going for the posts but that was another missed opportunity for the Lions, who really should have come away from that with more than three points.


PENALTY! Maori All Blacks 7-9 Lions (Halfpenny)

Three from three for Halfpenny and the Lions have restored their early lead.


PENALTY! Maori All Blacks 10-9 Lions (McKenzie)

The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Maori hold up Maro Itoje and force the turnover. McKenzie slots a penalty over from 40 yards out.


Another Sexton line break and offload, but Davies is isolated and knocks on.


Liam Messam scores their first try Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Liam Messam scores their first try Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Liam Messam scores their first try Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO


Oh that’s superb from Sexton. Halfpenny initially claims the high ball brilliantly and the Leinster out-half then spots the space in behind, pinging the kick into touch on that far side.


The Lions have been very solid defensively again and on that occasion Mako Vunipola was the man to get over the ball and win the penalty. Sexton finds a good touch in the corner and the Lions will have a lineout 15 metres out.


PENALTY! Maori All Blacks 10-12 Lions (Halfpenny)

The Lions win the lineout and look to inch towards the line via the rolling maul before the Maori concede another penalty in front of their own posts. Halfpenny does the honours and the Lions lead by two.


Who said New Zealand teams always kick penalties to touch? The Lions are penalised at the breakdown and McKenzie opts for a shot at goal from inside his own half.

He has plenty of distance on it but the accuracy is a little off and the flags stay down. Four minutes until the break.


The Lions concede another penalty within McKenzie’s range but the Maori out-half changes tactics and kicks for the corner. It’s all a bit scrappy from the lineout but hosts do enough to retain possession.


One unfortunate error from George North apart, that was a very solid half from the Lions and they go into the break with a two-point advantage.

All the tourists’ points have come from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny and, once again, the Lions have had missed opportunities in opposition territory. They could and probably should be further ahead and a combination of indiscipline and poor defending has allowed the Maori remain in touch.

A big 40 minutes of rugby coming up for Gatland’s side.


A view of a scrum Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

George North Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Jonathan Davies with Matt Proctor Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


We’re back underway!


The rain is absolutely hammering down in Rotorua now as the Lions make a bright start again. The Maori collapse the maul and Sexton finds a good touch on this near side.

From there, the Lions win another penalty after Kerr-Barlow goes through the ruck and Jaco Peyper is having a word with Ash Dixon. A final warning from the referee as Halfpenny lines up the kick.


PENALTY! Maori All Blacks 10-15 Lions (Halfpenny)

And the lead is out to five pints as Halfpenny slots another penalty over.


The Maori have yet to really get going and McKenzie’s restart doesn’t go ten and we’re going back for a Lions scrum on halfway.


Sexton launches an up and under high into the night sky and James Lowe has loads of time to field it comfortably but he fumbles the greasy ball and this is a good attacking platform for the Lions.


The Lions go down the short side and Halfpenny has space here but he’s hit by a Kerr-Barlow and we’re going upstairs to have a look at this tackle. It certainly looked bad in real time and the referee has asked the TMO if there was any foul play.


Yellow! Jaco Peyper sends the scrum-half to the bin for not wrapping his arms, deeming the tackle on Halfpenny as dangerous. A fair decision.


It looks like the Lions are over as Ben Te’o picks McKenzie out and smashes his way through before Jamie George picks and drives. The Lions are convinced the hooker got it over but the South African officials agree that there’s no conclusive evidence to award the try.


We’re going back for a five metre scrum and the Lions get a push shove on. It looks like they could rumble on and force their way over the line but Murray decides to use it and is stopped just short.

The Maori concede another penalty as they scramble defensively and the Lions turn down the points to go for another scrum.


PENALTY TRY! Maori All Blacks 10-22 Lions

The Lions have been dominant at the set piece all night and the referee awards the penalty try after the Maori halted it illegally. The Lions have a 12-point buffer after 52 minutes.


All the momentum is with the Lions now. They kick in behind and while the Maori do well to filter back, Ioane is then forced back over his own line after being tackled by four red shirts.


The Lions prepare for a scrum Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Lions' players celebrate a Jamie George try that was ruled by the TMO as inconclusive Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Nehe Milner-Skudder with George North and Jonathan Davies Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Flag 58Mins

TRY! Maori All Blacks 10-29 Lions (Itoje)

The Lions are motoring now. It all comes from another scrum and after Faletau is stopped just short, there’s no stopping Itoje from close range and the Lions have their second try. Halfpenny adds the extras.


The Lions are in complete control and have over-powered the Maori All Blacks from the first whistle. The forwards produce another powerful maul but the move breaks down when Te’o and O’Brien look to combine.

Gatland, meanwhile, has made his first chances with Jack McGrath and Iain Henderson on for Vunipola and Kruis.


The Maori are really struggling to contain the Lions and the tourists have another five-metre scrum.


Concern here for Peter O’Mahony as he goes down and needs treatment on his knee. He looks be okay and is able to jog off the field as he’s replaced by Sam Warburton. A huge performance from the Munster man.


The Lions continue to plug away as Gatland makes a couple more changes in the front row with Ken Owens and Kyle Sinckler on for George and Furlong. 15 minutes remaining.


The Maori turn it over and look to counter from deep but the Lions have numbers and cover to close the door. Murray and Sexton are given the final 13 minutes off, with Laidlaw and Biggar entering the fray.


inpho_01225541 Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Damian McKenzie Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Sean O'Brien with Damian McKenzie Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


PENALTY! Maori All Blacks 10-32 Lions (Halfpenny)

This has been an utterly dominant performance from the Lions and Halfpenny extends the lead. Into the final 10 minutes in Rotorua.


Smashing break from Te’o, who has again been excellent tonight, as the Lions look to finish with a flourish — but the Maori stand firm on this occasion.


Brief pause in play here after a flash point involving Sean O’Brien, Dan Biggar and James Lowe off the ball. The referee asks the TMO to have a look but there’s no suitable camera angle for us to see exactly what went on. The two captains are summoned by the official and we’re back underway.


A big, big win for the Lions and it was badly needed heading into the first Test this day next week. They dominated up front and over-powered the Maori All Blacks, who never got going and were unable to unleash their explosive backline.

A penalty try, a score from Maro Itoje and 20 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny sealed victory for Warren Gatland’s side in Rotorua and it was a very solid night’s work for the tourists.

You can read Murray Kinsella’s on-the-whistle report here


We’ll have plenty more reaction from Rotorua to come throughout the morning, as well as live analysis with Murray Kinsella over on Facebook, but until next time, goodbye!

About the author:

Ryan Bailey