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Highlanders 23 British & Irish Lions 22

Sam Warburton

The British & Irish Lions lost their second match on the tour of New Zealand with a pulsating 23-22 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The Lions led until the last five minutes of the match when the Highlanders forced a penalty on the Lions own scrum just outside their 22 yard line that Marly Banks kicked from out wide.

The Lions gave away penalties at crucial times and so it was the penalty count that cost the Lions in the end.  The team had targeted a low penalty count as being crucial to win the game and 12 penalties is too high against an excellent Highlanders side.

In reply the Lions missed two crucial penalty kicks from Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly who were unable to reverse the score in the last few minutes.

The positives for the Lions that they scored three good tries from Jonathan Jospeh, Tommy Seymour and Sam Warburton.  Joseph’s try came from a good break by fly half Dan Bigger stepping inside his man and threading the ball to Joseph who beat three men to score.  Tommy Seymour benefitted form a loose cross field kick to scoop the ball in the air and run in unopposed, and Sam Warburton scored under the posts following some excellent pressure from the Lions on the Highlanders line.

Lions captain Warburton said “We’ve got to keep our penalty count to single figures and we didn’t do that.  You’ve got to give Highlanders credit for that, but we’ve got to keep that figure down. We will review the game in detail and hopefully come back on Saturday and win.”

British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland said “We didn’t nail a few big moments that were important to us.  Unfortunately we let them back into it with the penalty count quite heavy against us. We need to be better in those moments in order not to compound pressure on ourselves.  We were a little bit inaccurate at times.  They kicked the ball quite smartly and we’ve got a couple of guys who are normally excellent in the air and we’ve not retained those balls at key times.  We felt at 22-13 we should be smart and see the game out and unfortunately we didn’t do that.”

Next up the British & Irish Lions face the sternest test on the tour so far against the NZ Maori at Rotorua international Stadium on Saturday.

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