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Fighting Lions go down to first tour defeat

Sonny Bill Williams

(Sonny Bill Williams gave inspirational display)
Blues 22, Lions 16:
THE British and Irish Lions suffered their first defeat of the 10-match tour this morning when they conceded a winning try to the Blues seven minutes before the finish. In a thrilling game, the home side took the lead with a try from left wing Rieko Ioane but seven minutes later CJ Stander got on the end of a Lions drive near the line to touchdown with Leigh Halfpenny adding the conversion. Halfpenny kicked a penalty to put the tourists 5-10 in front and Ioane raced in for a second touchdown close to the break but the score was disallowed for offside. With seconds remaining the Blues went into the lead for the first time. Perofeta’s penalty hit the upright and in the resultant scramble, Sonny Bill Williams won the race for the touchdown with Perofeta landing the extras that gave his side a 12-10 lead at the break.
The second half was a hard-fought thriller. Left wing Rieko Ioane was deprived again after he grounded near the flag but replacement out-half Ihaia West pushed the home lead to 15-10 with a penalty with 51 minutes played. There was a further blow for the Lions when Liam Williams was shown yellow for a tackle in the air but a Leigh Halfpenny penalty saw them reduce the lead to two points with 12 minutes remaining. A big ‘Munster-style’ scrum forced another kickable penalty for the Lions and Halfpenny’s accurate strike set up a tight finish with just one point between the sides at 15-16.
A piece of New Zealand brilliance decided this tie, Sonny Bill Williams’ slick off-load sending Ihaia West away on a mazey break that left red shirts sprawling in his wake and he touched down under the posts and added the conversion for a 22-16 lead.
The Lions needed a converted try and they certainly made every effort to achieve that. The pack forced a penalty on the ten metre line, Jonathan Sexton found good position eight metres from the line but Rory Best’s throw went into a Blue hand and the chance was lost.
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu; 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 3 Charlie Faumuina, 4 Gerard Cowley Tuioti, 5 Scott Scrafton, 6 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 8 Steven Luatua. Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TJ Faiane.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb; 1 Jack McGrath, 2 Ken Owens (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 6 James Haskell, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 CJ Stander. Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Greig Laidlaw, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 Liam Williams.

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