In Review

Highlanders vs Lions LIVE: Tourists lose thriller by a single point

Jonathan Joseph, Tommy Seymour and Sam Warburton score tries but late penalty wins it for the Highlanders

Highlanders 23 Lions 22

The Lions lost their second match of the New Zealand tour as a late penalty from Marty Banks secured victory for the Highlanders by a single point in Dunedin.

The tourists finally found their try-scoring form in a thrilling encounter, but despite touchdowns for Jonathan Joseph, Tommy Seymour and captain Sam Warburton they were undone by indiscipline as the penalty count against them once again reached double figures.

The deciding moment of the game came when the Highlanders, who were two points down, pulverised the Lions scrum with seven minutes left and Banks slotted home the penalty.

The Lions were up against it in other areas too. They missed 15 tackles and struggled to contain the ferocious running of Malakai Fekitoa and try-scorer Waisake Naholo in particular.

There is also concern over Courtney Lawes who had to be replaced after being flattened by Naholo as he scored in the first half.

The tourists also missed three kicks at goal, which cost a total cost of eight points. Biggar missed a second-half conversion wide on the left after Seymour's excellent try.

Owen Farrell's first action after replacing Biggar was to take a shot at goal, but he dragged it across the posts, prompting questions about whether he should have been entrusted with the kick seconds after coming on.

Then in the final minutes with the Lions trailing by a single point Elliot Daly attempted a monster penalty from well inside his own half, but the ball fell agonisingly short of the posts.

Defeat will leave the Lions bruised, but it also serves to underline the quality of New Zealand's Super Rugby sides. The Lions will now be fully aware that every game will be played with the intensity of a Test match and that there will be no quarter given.

But they can take heart from some aspects of their game, not least the performances of Joseph and scrum-half Rhys Webb who may have played themselves into contention for the Test team. Prop Kyle Sinkler also impressed as did flanker CJ Stander.

FULL TIME: Highlanders 23 Lions 22

It's game over and the Lions have lost a thrilling match by a single point.

The tourists won the lineout but the ball was knocked on by Joseph on the 22 as the Lions flung it out wide looking for the all important score.

The final whistle sparks wild celebrations from the home side, but the gutted Lions can take great heart from the second half performance in particular.

80 mins: Lions in the corner

The Lions win a penalty and go for the corner. The clock is on 80 minutes. This line out is it!

78 mins: Missed penalty!

Daly's monster boot is not big enough and his giant kick from inside his own half falls an agonising metre short of the posts. What drama!

Can the Lions find something in the final minute?

77 mins: Thrilling finish

CJ Stander secures a sensational turnover and the Lions go on the charge. They can't find the overlap and are bundled out of play.

But the Lions have a penalty in their own half - Daly is going to kick from 60 metres!

73 mins: PENALTY! Highlanders 23 Lions 22

The home team put in a monster scrum to win a penalty on the touchline. Banks lines it up... and scores

That was a huge scrum and a brilliant kick. Can the Lions respond?

70 mins: Lions under pressure

The Highlanders win the ball as three of them set upon Jones. At one point the Wales skipper was being held in midair by three tacklers.

Then the Highlanders put up a bomb that it taken by Buckman, who almost puts replacement Lentjes through. The Lions will do well to hold onto a two-point lead here. They need another score.

67 mins: Farrell missed penalty!

This game is very easy on the eye as the Lions enjoy a period of relative calm as they prod and probe in midfield. They don't make much ground but they are retaining the ball well and have a penalty about 35 yards out on the right.

Farrell is on for Biggar and Tipuric for Warburton.

Farrell's first touch is a kick for goal. He misses!

61 mins: Highlanders 20 Lions 22

The Lions get the ball back at the restart as the home side knock on, but then the Highlanders win the scrum against the head after they are penalised. The Lions pack don't like it, but the Highlanders are on the attack once again.

60 mins: TRY! Coltman scores for Highlanders

After that epic passage the Lions are undone by another penalty. The Highlanders go for the line out and the rolling maul from ten metres pushes the Lions back for hooker Coltman to score.

Banks, on for Sopoanga, adds the conversion.

The atmosphere is electric and the game is well and truly on!

59 mins: Huge defence!

The Lions defence is in effect as they survive a multi-phase onslaught from the Highlanders on their own line. Laidlaw, on for Webb, eventually clears after the Lions steal the ball.

My word, the Highlanders runners hit the line hard though. Naholo and Fekitoa are like battering rams. That was epic.

 55 mins: Highlanders 13 Lions 22

Biggar adds the extras for the Lions, but the Highlanders are straight onto the front foot again.

Sopoanga has been hauled off.

54 mins: TRY! Warburton scores for the Lions!

What a score for the captain! The Lions win the scrum and finally hit the try line in the ninth phase of their attack.

The Highlanders defence was brilliant but finally, after close calls for Joseph and Henderson, Warburton fines a way throgh to score under the posts. 

Daylight for the Lions!

50 mins: Highlanders 13 lions 15

Sopoanga scores the penalty but then almost hands the Lions a try!

The fly half delivers a terible pass from the bottom of the ruck after the restart and the ball is loose in the Highlanders in goal area. The Highlanders scramble clear, but its a five-metre scrum for the Lions.

48 mins: Naholo down

The powerful winger charges the line and carries Seymou back about ten yards. Almost reminsicent of George North picking up Isreal Folau four years ago.

The Lions need to watch the penalty count here. A shoulder barge from Sinkler gifts the Highlanders a shot at goal from in front of the posts.

44 mins: Highlanders 10 Lions 15

Biggar narrowly misses the conversion.

43 mins: TRY! Tommy Seymour scores for the Lions

The Scottish winger strikes after a rare mistake from Sopoanga!

The Highlanders fly half kicks wide hoping to find Fekitoa and Naholo lurking on the right wing, but Seymour reads the kick and times his jump perfectly to steal the ball. He takes it cleanly and has a free run to the line. Brilliant anticipation to embarrass the home team.

Suddenly the Lions are in front.

41 mins: We're back underway

The Highlanders kick off and the Lions win an early lineout, they kick possession away and the Highlanders show no signs of changing their approach in the second half as they toss the ball wide and charge the Lions line.

Half time: Highlanders 10 Lions 10

The half comes to a relatively scrappy end as the Highlanders put the ball out of play. It's been a fine 40 minutes but in truth most of the thrills have come from the home side, with the power running of Naholo, Fekitoa and Li putting the Lions under the cosh.

The speed and incisiveness of the Highlanders has been inpressive, and they have used the kicking game well to make sure they gain ground.

The tourists have given as good as they have got, however, and while their defence has not been as intense as it was against the Crusaders they have been willing in attack and Joseph ran a wonderful angle to score his try.

Scrum half Webb has also impressed but there will be concern over lock Lawes who has been forced out of the game after taking a horrible looking knock on the head as he was barged out of the way as Naholo as he scored his try.

The next 40 minutes could be a real test for the Lions.

36 mins: Sinkler breaks!

What a sight! The ball comes to Lions prop Sinkler in the backline and he steps inside his opposite number to break the line. He trundles through, but his pass to Payne isn't great though and the move breaks down.

Highlander Li then shows Sinkler how to break with real speed as he races through, only to be hauled down in the 22.

That could serve as a vignette of these two sides. They are both going for it but one is making the other look pedestrian.

31 mins: Highlanders 10 Lions 10

Biggar adds the conversion from wide on the left. Within a minute of the restart he's been floored by Li, but he's back on his feet now.

The Lions seem rejuventated by that score and are looking to match their opponents for speed of thought and movement.

30 mins: TRY! Jonathan Joseph scores

Just when it starts to look as the Lions are out of their depth, up pops Jonathan Joseph with a try!

It was a fine piece of centre play as the Bath man spoted a gap and slipped the Highlanders defence from a move that began just outside the Highlanders 22.

27 mins: TRY! Highlanders 10 Lions 3

The Lions have no answer to the sheer power of the Highlanders runners as they pile towards the line down the left wing. They get to within a couple of metres, but rather than use the forwards the Highlanders toss the ball back to Naholo, who barrels over for the try, bursting through the despairing Lions tacklers.

Courtney Lawes is in need of treatment, the All Black winger flattened the lock on his way to the line. Alun-Wyn Jones is on to replace him.

Sopoanga adds the extras.

25 mins: Lions escape

The Lions escape once more as the ball is stolen as the Highlanders try to maul their way to the line from the lineout. Looks like it was Rory Best who ripped the ball there. Biggar clears with a mammoth kick.

24 mins: Penalty into the corner

The Lions are penalised for holding on in a ruck. It's 40 metres out but this time the Highlanders go for the corner.

20 mins: Missed penalty

The Lions cough up a penalty wide on the right, but Sopoanga drags his kick for goal across the face.

The Highlanders want more than a penalty though, and Fekitoa, who is back on the field after a head injury assessment, makes yet another line break. Payne then reacts fast to intercept a grubber kick from Walden - that is a tactic the Highlanders have used more than once today.

The Highlanders are breaking the Lions line with relative ease and the Lions are lucky not to have conceded a try so far.

16 mins: Biggar penalty - Highlanders 3 Lions 3

What will it take for the Lions to score a try?

The Lions attack from a line out on the Highlanders 22 and lock Courtney Lawes breaks after he is not held in the tackle.

Then winger Seymour is stopped an inch short of the line - how many times has that happened this tour? Webb then tries to sneak over the line, but drops the ball inches from the turf.

Biggar takes the three points as we come back for a penalty in front of the posts.

12 mins: Webb in the action

Rhys Webb is in the thick of it, as he first nails Fekitoa and then makes 20 yards with a sweet dummy to break the Highlanders line. But the move comes to an end when the Welshman delivers a poor pass from the base of a ruck.

But the hit on Fekitoa could have a big impact as the All Black centre is off the field.

8 mins: Lions attack

The Lions come forward and almost break the line through Henderson. Good attacking intent from the Lions, but the move comes to end with a penalty at the breakdown in the Highlanders 22. The home side scythe through the defence but the lively Fekitoa is hauled down at the Lions ten metre line. 

5 mins: Penalty - Highlanders 3 Lions 0

We come back for a penalty and the Highlanders take the points from 22 yards out.

4 mins: Highlanders on top

The Lions are under the cosh early on. Sopoanga has been dictating play as the Highlanders go close on both sides of the field. First Payne stops Naholo inches from the try line and the home side spread the ball to the other side, Henshaw stops Fekitoa.

1 min: We're off

Dan Biggar gets things underway and the Highlanders make early ground. The Lions respond and the first break comes from Naholo, who is hauled down by three defenders.

The Lions are in Dunedin to face the Highlanders Super Rugby side as they look to maintain the momentum they generated against the Crusaders.

Solid in defence there have been questions about the Lions ability to score tries, and all eyes will be on their attacking game.

The team has a midweek feel to it, but there are plenty of players hoping to make a case for a berth in the Test side.

Among the Highlanders players facing the Lions are several All Blacks including winger Waisake Naholo, a real danger man.


British & Irish Lions: J Payne; J Nowell, J Joseph, R Henshaw, T Seymour; D Biggar, R Webb; J Marler, R Best, K Sinckler, C Lawes, I Henderson, J Haskell, S Warburton (capt), CJ Stander. Replacements K Owens, J McGrath, D Cole, AW Jones, J Tipuric, G Laidlaw, O Farrell, E Daly.

Highlanders: R Buckman; W Naholo, M Fekitoa, T Walden, T Li; L Sopoaga, K Hammington; D Lienert-Brown, L Coltman, S Tokolahi, A Ainley, J Hemopo, G Evans, D Hunt, L Whitelock (capt). Replacements G Pleasants-Tate, A Seiuli, S Halanukonuka, J Dickson, J Lentjes, J Renton, M Banks, P Osborne.

Referee: A Gardner (Australia).


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