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Lions floor Maori in All Blacks dress rehearsal

19 June 2017

Wales quartet Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey, Gareth Davies and Tomas Francis have made the short trip from Auckland to link up with the Lions, with Scotland duo Allan Dell and Finn Russell jetting in from Australia.

British and Irish Lions made a statement by silencing their critics with a record 32-10 victory over the Maori All Blacks at a packed Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday.

"We can't really go into a game worrying about what the ref is going to rule on how we play the game", said Kaino, restored to full fitness after recent injuries and prominent during his side's 78-0 win over Samoa at Eden Park last Friday.

The debate overshadowed the Lions picking up their third win of the series, just a week before they face the All Blacks in the first Test at Eden Park, Auckland, on 24 June.

"It's a huge opportunity that doesn't come by very often, there's been legends of New Zealand who have never played the Lions and they'll be well aware of that".

That possibility was also in the mind of Chiefs coach Dave Rennie who said he expected the Lions would be desperate to push their cases for test consideration against his team.

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And yet, here we are six days from that first clash with the All Blacks and it feels like events in Hamilton, where the Chiefs take on the Lions, could have an equally significant bearing on what sort of legacy this tour will leave.

FORMER Gloucester captain Greig Laidlaw has defended Warren Gatland's decision to draft in six new players to the British and Irish Lions squad. "We did that in 2013 and I have no doubt it's one of the reasons why we won the first Test because we gave the Test team a chance to win the Test".

England coach Eddie Jones said Gatland has resorted to selecting players on the basis of "geographical proximity" rather than ability.

"I just think it's practical", said Schmidt, following Ireland's 50-22 victory over Japan in Shizuoka.

"I have got to make it that way as well".

So impressed were the New Zealand media with O'Brien's display that they claimed the Lions should use his game, as well as the similar bite of Maro Itoje and Taulupe Faleteau as a springboard to their game.

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The Lions held a 12-10 lead at the break courtesy of four Halfpenny penalties as they deprived the Maori of fast ball.

Lions boss Warren Gatland: "It was pretty good".

"We won't sit down and pick the (test) team until Wednesday and I think that's only fair on the players that are taking the field on Tuesday", Gatland told reporters in Hamilton.

Obviously for an England player to arrive in time to prepare for the Chiefs game they wouldn't be able to play in the second Argentina Test and would have to already be en route.

Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne slot into the midfield, suggesting two of Ben Te'o, Jonathan Joseph and Jonathan Davies will start on Saturday.

Halfpenny converted and took his record from the tee on the evening to seven out of seven as the Lions showed plenty of encouraging signs that they can challenge the world champion.

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Lions floor Maori in All Blacks dress rehearsal