The NZ Media React As The Lions Suffer Another Late Defeat
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Another tough day at the office.
The Lions will be really disappointed after today’s game as they really should have came away with a win. The Highlanders started well but Gatland’s men came back into the game, grabbing three good tries.
While they converted three chances, once again several went begging. The Lions really should have closed this game out, with Gatland’s Test team now really shaping up when you compare this and the Blues game to the win over the Crusaders.
Here’s how the New Zealand media reacted.
Gregor Paul – NZ Herald
It’s one small step back for the Lions and one giant leap forward for New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders.
The men from the South played with everything, showed all they had, mixed it up between smart back play and crunching forward work and held on with the best, best defensive effort.
It was a magical night for the Highlanders – another win against the Lions to match the one Otago secured in 1993.
Just as brave, just as creative and just as damaging for the visitors who might feel they have gone back to square one, or close to it.
Mark Reason – Stuff
Sam Warburton reached out and somehow planted the ball over the line. It seemed like a metaphor for his tour. Held together by bandages Warburton is stretching every sinew to captain the test side.
The Welshman is a very fine man, a top leader and, at his best, a marauding flanker. But at the moment he is a metre off his usual pace and at this level that loss of gas is catastrophic. No one has ever accused Warren Gatland of romanticism, so it will be a huge call if he includes his captain in the Saturday side on the strength of one try.
Biggar is Warren Gatland’s selection, a Welshman off his best form who plays a percentage game. But he has not come close to the rugby that George Ford is capable of. The England first five languishing in Argentina where he guided a virtual B side to victory
Patrick McKendry – NZ Herald
Warren Gatland reckons there isn’t much difference between New Zealand Super Rugby teams and the All Blacks. Many would disagree with that, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Lions’ so-called mid-weekers are nowhere as good as those who will start the first test.
The Lions should have killed this game off at 22-13. They had the momentum, the ball and the territory, but you can’t switch off for a minute against this mob, who, incredibly, were missing nine of their front-line players to the All Blacks or Maori.
Liam Coltman’s converted try changed everything, with a penalty from cult hero Marty Banks getting them across the line.
If any match proved the value of a stadium with a roof on it in this part of the world it was this one. Some of the handling was outrageously good. There were mistakes, yes, but the dry conditions allowed the Highlanders to have a go as they promised to do, and they didn’t disappoint.