Lions score 4 tries to claim victory over Chiefs

Dan Biggar kicks 12 points as The British & Irish Lions warmed up for the Test series against the All Blacks in fine style with a stylish victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Nowell dived over from close range inthe first half while Dan Biggar booted the rest of the points as the Lions led 13-6 at the break. 

But in the second half Warren Gatland’s side turned on the style, the forwards earning a penalty try before Nowell and Jared Payne both went over after fine attacking moves.

The Chiefs – Super Rugby champions in 2012 and 2013 – were held tryless to end their seven-match winning streak on their home ground and ensure the Lions head to Auckland to take on the All Blacks with a spring in their step.

The tourists had lost on their two previous visits to Waikato but they hit the ground running this time around, the impressive Elliot Daly putting in a huge hit from Biggar’s kick off to signal his intent.

Courtney Lawes was enormous in the opening period and his lineout steal relieved some early Chiefs pressure and the Lions went up the other end and made their first inroads.

Nowell got free down the right and offloaded to James Haskell and when Mitchell Brown went offside Biggar slotted the first penalty of the night.

Joe Marler then saw yellow for the Lions for a late tackle – bringing on Allan Dell for his Lions debut – but despite the numerical disadvantage it was the tourists who struck next, Daly and Greig Laidlaw working the short side to earn another penalty that Biggar slotted.

The Lions defence was causing the Chiefs all sort of problems in the first half – Iain Henderson tackling everything in sight – but World Cup winner Stephen Donald replied with a penalty for the hosts when Lawes was penalised for hands in the ruck.

When Marler returned from the bin, the Lions did not take long to claim the first try of the match.

Nowell and Liam Williams got free down the right and after CJ Stander and Biggar had gone close, it was Nowell who dived over the breakdown from short range to dot down his first try of the Tour.

Biggar’s simple extras made it 13-3 and it could have been more before the break when a rolling maul came close to the line.

But the Chiefs held out and with the last play of the half Donald trimmed the lead to 13-6 with a penalty from bang in front when Daly went offside.

The driving maul, as it had on Saturday against the Maori, continued to do damage after the interval but a couple of misfiring lineouts from Rory Best halted the Lions progress.

The Chiefs then enjoyed their best period of sustained territory but when Finlay Christie knocked on, Laidlaw dummied and broke clear to relieve the pressure.

Alun Wyn Jones was then introduced temporarily for Lawes and the Lions maul got back to work and this time the Chiefs sacked it illegally, forcing referee Jerome Garces to award a penalty try and the Lions were 20-6 to the good.

Best and Stander then both conceded penalties in quick succession at the breakdown to put the Lions on the back foot but the tourists then turned defence into attack in sublime style for the try of the night.

The Chiefs overthrew the lineout and Justin Tipuric was the first man on the spot to steal the ball and spread it left, and from there the Lions went into overdrive. Biggar saw it was on to run it and Daly seared clear down the left before offloading to the supporting Henshaw – and when the ball found its way back to Nowell down the right, the winger cut back to go over for an end-to-end effort.

Biggar’s extras came before the hour mark for a 27-6 lead and the Lions were now in total command. The fourth try of the night followed soon after, Williams breaking from deep before offloading to Payne to burst clear.

The final quarter of an hour saw replacement Tommy Seymour go close for the Lions but the game was over as a contest and, despite the Chiefs’ best efforts, the Lions defence was impenetrable and a late Dan Cole turnover sealed a 34-6 victory.