Lions go down to narrow tour defeat

If a second midweek defeat of the tour has brought the Lions down to earth, there is equally no need for Warren Gatland to panic.

"You've got to look at yourself in the mirror and say there's no point in doing those things, because it's to the detriment of the team". I'm not sure he's a top end second row.

New Zealand Herald columnist and former All Black prop forward Richard Loe was once more highly critical, suggesting the Lions were "either lazy or cynical" in their play.

Saturday's encounter with the New Zealand Maori promises to not only be another brutal and hard-hitting encounter, but also one likely that will see the majority of the test side in action.

He attributed the Highlanders victory to "better fitness and skill". The Kiwi players are all super pumped to face the Northern Hemisphere giants - it could be their only opportunity to play them, and they will do so in front of stadiums packing with rugby-mad fans.

Jackson Hemopo and Dillon Hunt were two players to really shine, while Gareth Evans and Luke Whitelock were prominent throughout the match.

"First, Joe Marler sat me down and just said, "You've got to stop it", said Sinckler, assessing how he has fought to keep his anger in check.

Defence and discipline, so pivotal against the Crusaders, were considerable blots on the Lions copybook. This will of course feed the talk of a 3-0 whitewash for the All Blacks. They expect the refs to show more understanding.

The Highlanders believe they've uncovered some Lion-busting methods which might be of interest to the All Blacks.

Halfpenny does not offer as much attacking threat as the aggressive running Hogg but is one of the best place-kickers in European rugby.

"And Dan Biggar has been smashing me all morning, so he's fine and ready or tomorrow night". The Lions will be more than ready.

The Lions now have a 2-2 record in New Zealand after arriving in the country two weeks ago.

The Highlanders botched an attempted clearance to hand the Lions a five-metre attacking scrum - and the tourists struck. A number of key players have been ruled out or are just returning from long injury lay-offs. He just didn't have a solid game.

Overall, the rest of the tour is bound to be tough for the Lions.

This leaves them with a two win-two loss record after four matches. They have already beaten the Provincial Barbarians and Crusaders.

Nonetheless, it would be a surprise if they were both named to start against the Maoris this weekend, and it may be that Gatland is holding them back for the first Test.

Will the Lions be competitive against a strong Chiefs side?

"And I think I got sent off in that game as well".

"I thought Jared Payne struggled a wee bit". It was a proper game of chess and was tight.

The back row was always going to be complicated - Taulupe Faletau may be nailed on at No8 but flankers are proving more hard.

"He runs the legs off me and other boys. Stuart is absolutely gutted and we are really feeling for him", he said. Get excited - this tour will be the highlight of the sporting year. The Lions fans are arguably the best in the world and provide the true definition of being a sports fan.

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