It’s certainly baffling. Gatland has refused to use any of the six unless for temporary replacements. It raises the question of what they are doing there if they do not come on with a tired Lions side letting a lead slip. It is almost as if he wants them airbrushed from history …
Full time! Hurricanes 31-31 Lions
An excellent match, and it seems a draw is about right. The Hurricanes were too indisciplined throughout but showed their class to come back to 31-31, and the Lions did well to hold on for the draw in the end. It will have plenty of impact on selection for Saturday but savour that match first – it was breathless.
In terms of Lions selection – Lawes and Henderson have cranked up the pressure in terms of pushing for a place in the Test 23. For New Zealand, Laumape was superb. He may not play on Saturday but don’t be surprised to see him in the third Test in Auckland.
The Lions will not be happy with letting such a healthy lead slip. Henderson’s yellow card proved costly in the end but the Lions also profited from Tahuriorangi’s 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
80 mins: North runs up the middle, then Henderson, Nowell shimmies but it’s a maul and it’s a turnover for the Hurricanes. They’ll have a scrum on their own 22 as the hooter goes!
First things first, the Hurricanes need the ball in and out … they do so but the Lions have turned the ball over.
Just let them play to a finish!
The Lions have the ball in the Hurricanes half, with the forwards Biggar has a crack with the drop goal … it’s not very near and Milner-Skudder almost keeps the ball in! But he can’t quite and that’s the game!
79 mins: It’s brought down legally though and Stander wallops into contact. Joseph is stepping and the Lions are making more ground …
78 mins: The TMO tells Poite that there’s been a neck roll by Laumape on Halfpenny. That’s a let-off for the Lions. Biggar finds touch and Kruis takes the throw. Here comes the maul, up and over halfway …
77 mins: Barrett almost gets through. Desperate tackling from the Lions. The Hurricanes are a few metres short on the left but they’ve lost it! Hurricanes knock-on so we’ll have a scrum. Here comes Henderson.
76 mins: The ball squirms out but it’s still with the Hurricanes. Henderson will be back on next time the ball goes dead. Goosen takes the Hurricanes into the 22 on the left. It’s squirmed out again but Gibbins picks it up.
75 mins: Scrum to the Hurricanes, and a dangerous one at that. Inside the Lions half and centre field. Laumape is there again, making ground and the Hurricanes burst through. They’re forced back a bit though as the ball goes to ground.
72 mins: We’re set up for a grandstand finish here. Still Gatland refuses to turn to the Geography Six as Halfpenny brings the ball up and over halfway. Biggar goes to the skies but Barrett takes it cleanly. Milner-Skudder kicks long and Halfpenny coughs it up!
Try! Hurricanes 31-31 Lions (Fifita)
71 mins: Hurricanes lineout inside the Lions 22. Laumape crashes into Biggar again. The Hurricanes are just a metre short … they think they’ve scored again. They’re sure they have but we’ll go upstairs. It’s a definite try from Fifita! Right under the posts. Barrett levels with the straight forward conversion and there’s still more than four minutes on the sin-bin clock!
70 mins: Biggar’s kick is a bit loose and here comes Barrett. The Hurricanes have a penalty advantage. It’s knocked on so we’ll have the penalty. It’s inside the Hurricanes half so Barrett will look for touch … and finds another excellent kick.
Try! Hurricanes 24-31 Lions (Goosen)
68 mins: The Hurricanes will fancy themselves with an extra man. Barrett blasts them into the Lions 22. Here comes Laumape on the crash ball æ they’re just a few metres short … the forwards have it, under the posts. Barrett finally puts some width on it and the replacement Goosen is over. He’s bought a few metres for the conversion too. Barrett makes no mistake.
66 mins: The Lions have it back and have advantage after another high tackle on Nowell. We’re coming back for it. Poite wants to have a look at a bit of foul play by Henderson on Barrett though … Poite seems to think it’s just a penalty but the TMO is advising another look. Henderson gets a yellow card as Poite believes, on second viewing, that Barrett landed on his shoulder. At least he gets a rest with Saturday in mind …
64 mins: A lineout to the Hurricanes then, five metres out. Taken cleanly and the Hurricanes have advantage. Barrett finds touch just inside the Hurricanes half.
63 mins: Tahuriorangi is back on but the Lions have a penalty and Biggar finds a good touch. North carries hard off the lineout – the Jamie Roberts role. Joseph grubbers – it’s very well weighted – and North gathers and splashes over! It’ll be checked though. Foot in touch. No try. I think North knew, judging from his reaction.
61 mins: The Hurricanes have the lineout after Biggar finds touch, Marler is down and receiving treatment. The Lions are defending very well here with the extra man as Halfpenny thumps clear. Laumape finds pace on the left though – well moped up by Biggar.
59 mins: The Hurricanes have a scrum and Black goes himself. The ball is out on the left, approaching the 22, Gibbins gets up to the 22 after some clever interplay but Cole flops on the loose ball.
57 mins: Halfpenny puts width on it again and North has a powerful carry. He’s been a lot more involved at centre.
Try! Hurricanes 17-31 Lions (Seymour)
56 mins: We’ll be back underway with a five-metre scrum. Stander picks up and goes himself. Now Henderson again, there’s a penalty coming. Kruis gets an early touch … Biggar puts width on it, finds Nowell and the ball is worked to Seymour who is over in the left corner. Seymour’s second try of the match. Biggar pushes the conversion.
No try. He was short and held up. George Kruis is coming on for Courtney Lawes – not Cory Hill?!?
54 mins: The ball is loose after Laidlaw’s high kick. Henderson snares it and rumbles on. The Lions are up to five metres out near the left. Marler has a go, Henderson is almost there, between the posts but it looks like he’s been held up. We’ll go upstairs … try, yes or no …
Penalty! Hurricanes 17-26 Lions (Biggar)
53 mins: In the buildup to that we saw another offload out of the tackle from Tipuric. He’s the only Lion who does that really. It seems a bit odd how far away from the Test team he is. Anyway, Biggar slots the penalty.
52 mins: Henderson doesn’t so much charge down Tahuriorangi as swallow him up so the Lions have it in the Hurricanes 22, with advantage. Good response from the Lions. Nowell plays scrum-half and is taking high. The Lions can’t work their way over but back we come for the penalty and Tahuriorangi is shown a yellow card. A big blow for the Hurricanes having just got back to within six points.
Penalty! Hurricanes 17-23 Lions (Barrett)
50 mins: Poite, who has had an excellent game so far, is telling the Lions off for not giving the ball back for the penalty. It’s right under the posts so Barrett will kick at goal. He’s getting one or two boos for doing so … but through it goes and the Hurricanes are back to within a score.
49 mins: Laumape makes a dent on the crash ball, Straight into Biggar. The Hurricanes have advantage, Savea makes good ground … but we’re back for the penalty. More niggle off the ball and Marler is in the thick of it.
48 mins: Russell kicks deep and Barrett goes aerial. The ball bounces, Shields pounces on it but his offload does not go to hands. Russell fires the ball to the right. Seymour gathers his chip but Halfpenny is penalised for a shirt pull and the Hurricanes go to the corner. Biggar is coming back on.
47 mins: Penalty to the Hurricanes. The momentum is with the Hurricanes and they will go for goal here. It’ll test Barrett, surely close to his limit. But it’s just wide.
45 mins: Russell is stripped after a little step with his first touch. Scrum to the Hurricanes on halfway.
44 mins: Biggar is having an HIA so Russell is on. Another of Geography Six! The Hurricanes have cleared their lines from the restart and the Lions have a lineout on their 10-metre line.
Try! Hurricanes 14-23 Lions (Laumape)
42 mins: Ridiculously good try. An early demonstration of exactly what the Hurricanes are capable of. It’s finished off by Laumape. Savea with the assist – Biggar has taken a whack to the head trying to stop Laumape but he’s just too powerful. It was a delightful inside pass from Aso that sliced the Lions open though. Bit of hand bags again afterwards. Barrett nails the conversion from wide on the right.
41 mins: Blacks gets us going again. The Hurricanes have an advantage as Shields runs over Laidlaw and up to the 22.
No changes at half-time …
Half-time Hurricanes 7-23 Lions
A very good half for the Lions, all be told. The Hurricanes have been far too indisciplined and the Lions have taken full advantage with tries from Seymour and North. The Hurricanes have looked dangerous at times and have scored a try through Gibbins but on the whole the Lions have defended very well.
Lawes and Henderson have both been excellent so it’ll be interesting to see if either is taken off. Henshaw has had to go off injured which has brought Halfpenny on at fullback and Nowell, who was impressing in the No15 shirt, to the wing. North has gone to centre, from where he managed his first try of the tour which will be a huge confidence boost.
It’s a very healthy lead for the Lions but the Hurricanes are so dangerous that if they can stop giving away penalties they are still very much in the game. Here’s more on Clown-gate.
40 mins: Hurricanes have advantage as Savea tries to find space on the left. Barrett frees Shields on the right – Savea comes off his wing and then offloads to Fifita. He’s not going to get there though so we’re back for the penalty. Black will go to the corner.
Cole comes away with the ball from the Hurricanes maul but it’s a penalty to the Hurricanes again. Back it goes to the corner. The Hurricanes maul goes nowhere fast though and it’s held up. Well defended.
39 mins: Black kicks off. North takes it again. Biggar boots clear and into touch but it’s taken quickly. Halfpenny takes Black’s kick. Laidlaw is charged down but Black has knocked it on and Biggar clears.
Try! Hurricanes 7-23 Lions (North)
38 mins: Biggar goes to the skies, Halfpenny chases well and taps it back. The loose ball falls to Henderson, who offloads to the onrushing North. Try time!
37 mins: Barrett chases well and hits Halfpenny hard. Haskell carries up the left. Tipuric almost breaks the tackle and offloads. It almost leads to Nowell getting clear on the right but the ball is loose and Barrett clears.
36 mins: North takes it but is stopped in his tracks. Riccitelli has put himself about in this first half. Savea drops Laidlaw’s box-kick but does so backwards. The Lions have it back though, Tipuric feeds Biggar, who has won another penalty. These penalties are killing the Hurricanes. Biggar goes for the corner but can’t find it. Barrett clears.
34 mins: North takes the restart, carries hard. Then Lawes. Halfpenny slips when clearing and Fifita brings the Hurricanes up to the Lions 22. The Lions have it back though. It’s a mess so we’ll have a scrum. Laidlaw to put in.
Penalty! Hurricanes 7-16 Lions (Biggar)
33 mins: Biggar takes full advantage. Foolish from May.
31 mins: Milner-Skudder sets off after taking the restart but doesn’t get very far. Barrett thumps clear but May has been penalised for holding Laidlaw so it’s an easy chance at three points.
Try! Hurricanes 7-13 Lions (Gibbins)
29 mins: Just a couple of metres short now. Gibbins thinks he’s push his way over … he has. Glasgow-bound Gibbins with try and Barrett with the conversion to get the Hurricanes back into the match.
27 mins: Free-kick to the Hurricanes and Shields goes quickly. Tahuriorangi tries to put his runner through with a delayed pass. The forwards are up to five or six metres from the posts, with advantage.
26 mins: Lawes does get his hand to this lineout … but he knocks it on so it’s a scrum to the Hurricanes on the Lions 22.
25 mins: Hurricanes have a lineout on halfway. Lawes nearly pinches it but cant and Black feeds Laumape who races through a gap! He can’t find the offload though and the Lions have it back. That’s well defended by the Lions and Laidlaw finds touch.
Penalty! Hurricanes 0-13 Lions (Biggar)
23 mins: Biggar lines one up at goal from just inside the Hurricanes half, and it sails through.
Halfpenny appears to have gone to full-back – Nowell switching to the wing.
22 mins: The Hurricanes have a lineout outside the Lions 22 but Best turns it over. North has a crack up the middle. Biggar chips over the top and Joseph takes it. Joseph is taken in the air so the Lions have an advantage. Back we come.
21 mins: Biggar is under pressure near his own line, scampering back but Laidlaw does well to clear. the Sky Sports clock is stuck so I’m guessing a bit. In the meantime …
19 mins: Henshaw has a shoulder problem and is going off. Halfpenny is on as Gatland continues to keep the Geography Six on the bench. Looks like North will come into the centres.
Try! Hurricanes 0-10 Lions (Seymour)
18 mins: Interception though … it’s Laidlaw with it – he’s moving his legs as fast as he can. He’s got no chance of getting there but he pops it up to Seymour who streaks clear under the posts! Biggar can’t miss the conversion.
17 mins: Savea has his first real burst down the left after quick hands from the Hurricanes backs. Nowell does well to bring him down though. Hurricanes still have it though, with the forwards now in the Lions 22.
16 mins: Laumape has a strong carry after the Lions got on top in the scrum but not by enough to earn the penalty. Penalty to Hurricanes near their own 22. Very powerful from Laumape there.
15 mins: Marler is getting his head bandaged for the second match in a row so there’s a brief stoppage in play. We’re back underway with a Hurricanes scrum.
14 mins: Tipuric has a burst after the clean lineout. The Lions are up and inside the 22 but it’s scrappy ball – the Hurricanes are defending very aggressively and they’ve held it up and will have a scrum.
13 mins: Biggar taps quickly and Joseph makes ground on the left. Seymour fumbles but both Hurricanes centres are offside. That’s five penalties against the Hurricanes already. This penalty goes to touch.
12 mins: Henderson rumbles through a couple of tackles after the restart. Laidlaw then kicks high but too deep and it’s returned by Barrett. Nowell fields it and wins a penalty after Barrett’s high tackle.
Penalty! Hurricanes 0-3 Lions (Biggar)
11 mins: This should be straightforward for Biggar, and straight through it goes.
9 mins: It goes to ground but the Lions still have it, it’s slow ball though as Haskell plays scrum-half. Tipuric has a crack, then Lawes. We’ll come back for a Lions penalty. Biggar will surely go for goal. He will.
8 mins: Biggar finds touch on the right, bang on the Hurricanes 22. Lawes takes the lineout and the Lions get the maul going.
7 mins: The scrum will be reset … Poite not happy at the moment. The Lions make a bit of a mess of it but they have been awarded a penalty. Bit of hand bags now … Haskell and Stander are involved. As is May and Shields.
5 mins: Tahuriorangi goes to the short side and Milner-Skudder chips ahead. Nowell does well to mop up though and Biggar thumps clear from deep. It’s taken quickly and Barrett gets some width on it again. No way through for Laumape on the left though and it’s a Hurricanes knock-on.
4 mins: The Lions get a free-kick from the scrum, Nowell is tackled well by Milner-Skudder on the left. The Lions forwards are making a bit of ground until a sloppy knock-on from Laidlaw. We’ll have another scrum – this time Hurricanes to put in.
2 mins: Barrett puts a bit of width on it and Aso makes ground on the left … but Barrett spills a poor pass from Tahuriorangi.
1 min: Biggar kicks off, Shields fields it. Barrett clears and Nowell brings up it to halfway. Laidlaw eventually goes to the skies but Barrett takes it cleanly.
Here come the Lions, led by Best who captains for the day. Shields leads out the Hurricanes. Doesn’t seem like there’s anything up the sleeve … here we go …
Five minutes until kick-off. The Hurricanes will not be performing a haka, we’ll have to see if they have anything else up their sleeves.
There’s a helicopter just about to land on the pitch … delivering the match ball. Unconfirmed if the pilot is Richie McCaw …
A quick word too for Cory Jane who is on the bench for the Hurricanes today. He was also in the Wellington Lions’ squad 12 that faced the Lions 12 years ago and there cannot be many players who have played against the Lions on two different tours.
A word on today’s referee – it’s France’s Romain Poite on duty, his first match in charge so far on the tour. He also referees the third Test so if, and it’s an almighty if, the Lions can win in Wellington on Saturday, he is the man in the middle for the decider. The Lions will hoping to get on the right side of him – not least because his compatriot Jerome Garces is on duty on Saturday.
Gatland has been talking to Sky Sports, no mention of clowns but he does say that if either of the second rows are going to force their way into Test contention they can’t really play more than 40 minutes. “A lot of players tonight, they’ve got a good chance.”
The Murray debate is certainly polarising opinion. There is footage of Jerome Kaino taking him out rather late during the first Test but Gatland is getting hammered by the New Zealand press for accusing his countrymen of deliberately doing so. Here’s what Kaino has had to say on the matter …
More on just why the Herald has gone with its front page now. It centres around Gatland accusing the All Blacks of seeking to target Conor Murray illegally and the Lions coach has go as far to say that they are endangering the Ireland scrum-half’s career. Steve Hansen doesn’t agree …
And welcome to the eighth instalment of the British & Irish Lions tour and the final midweek match for Warren Gatland’s squad.
A bit of team news first up – Leigh Halfpenny replaces Jared Payne on the Lions bench. The Ireland international reported with a headache and has been stood down as a precaution.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Herald has been having some fun with its front page today – perhaps the only surprise is that it has taken this long.
On to matters at hand and while all that really concerns the Lions is Saturday’s second Test, a victory today would build a bit of confidence before they return to the Cake Tin. On top of that, a number of players will be looking to advance their claims to play on Saturday, including George North on the left wing.
It is difficult to see any of the starting pack today playing from the off on Saturday – unless they come off by half-time at the latest – but there may be places available on the Test bench for those such as Courtney Lawes, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander and Justin Tipuric. It will also be the last outing on this tour for a number of players barring injury – James Haskell, Tommy Seymour and Robbie Henshaw would appear to fit into that category – while the Geography Six are all on the bench before being sent on their way.
Whereas last time out in midweek the Lions cruised past a significantly understrength Chief side, the Hurricanes XV is brimming with talent, even if there is no Beauden Barrett or TJ Perenara. Their wingers – Julian Savea and Nehe Milner-Skudder – both started the 2015 World Cup final while the full-back Jordie Barrett won his first cap against Samoa recently and is destined to win a shedload more.
Vaea Fifita, another to make his debut against Samoa and a try-scoring one at that, has also been released by the All Blacks to play, as has Ngani Laumape – a bulldozing centre certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Your teams are below in full, kick-off is at 8.35am BST.
Hurricanes J Barrett; N Milner-Skudder, V Aso, N Laumape, J Savea; O Black, T Tahuriorangi; B May, R Riccitelli, J To’omaga-Allen, M Abbott, S Lousi, V Fifita, C Gibbins, B Shields (capt).
Replacements L Apisai, C Eves, M Kainga, J Blackwell, R Prinsep, K Hauiti-Parapara, W Goosen, C Jane.
British & Irish Lions J Nowell; T Seymour, J Joseph, R Henshaw, G North; D Biggar, G Laidlaw; J Marler, R Best (capt), D Cole, I Henderson, C Lawes, J Haskell, J Tipuric, C Stander.
Replacements K Dacey, A Dell, T Francis, C Hill, G Kruis, G Davies, F Russell, L Halfpenny.
Referee R Poite (Fr).
Gerard will be here soon.
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