The Lions fell to Super Rugby outfit Highlanders in the fourth match of their tour of New Zealand, as the first test against the All Blacks looms. Here, we look at five takeaways from an ultimately disappointing showing in Dunedin.
Lions ability to close out a game called into question
This is the second time in a week that the tourists have let a lead slip.
Nine points to the good in the second half, Warren Gatland’s side were incapable of closing out the tie. Had one of the missed kicks from Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly gone over, the Lions may have won and the narrative would be far different.
This will be a worry for Gatland.
Lack of back three bolters
Does anybody want those test jerseys?
Today, Jared Payne, Jack Nowell and Tommy Seymour all struggled to make a meaningful impact. With Stuart Hogg injured, there are few standout candidates to start against the All Blacks.
Gatland will be hoping that somebody will excel in this department on Saturday.
Sinckler has a stormer
The Lions continue to fare well at scrum-time, and it only fell apart once the Harlequins tighthead departed from the field.
Sinckler continues to impress as he looks to force his way into test contention, as his storming run down the field in the first half showed he is so much more than just a good scrummager.
To put it simply, today’s game was lost due to poor discipline. The Highlanders were 12-7 to the good on the penalty count, and discipline is quickly becoming a major worry.
The key to beating the All Blacks is staying on the right side of the referee; Ireland only conceded four penalties in Chicago last November.
Perhaps the tourists are struggling with the interpretations of southern hemisphere referees, but it needs to be sorted quickly.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom in Dunedin. The performance of Sinckler was remarkable, while Iain Henderson, Robbie Henshaw, Jonathan Joseph and Rhys Webb all impressed, offering Gatland and Co. food for thought.
Surely the starting test team is starting to come together in the Kiwi head coach’s mind.
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