Lions’ dirt-trackers clean up

British and Irish Lions' Jack Nowell in action against Chiefs
British and Irish Lions' Jack Nowell in action against Chiefs

Chiefs 6 British & Irish Lions 34

Rory Best insisted the British and Irish Lions drew the reaction demanded from their midweek team after the Chiefs were routed at Waikato Stadium.

Wing Jack Nowell ran in two tries as the tourists’ dirt-trackers recorded a first win in three outings to lift spirits heading into Saturday’s first Test against New Zealand.

“I think we’re happy. We talked about getting bit of a reaction from this group,” said Ireland hooker Best. “Although the results have not looked great for us in midweek, we’ve actually put ourselves in position to win games and win games comfortably.

“We got ourselves in that position here and we drove on.

“There’s a good team spirit throughout this squad. You saw that out there – the boys really worked hard for each other.

“Even at the very end when you’re winning comfortably, it’s easy to concede a try and give up, but we kept marching forward.”

Head coach Warren Gatland was delighted by the Lions’ biggest win of their 2017 tour to New Zealand.

When asked if the Lions are peaking at the right time, Gatland said: “I hope so. We’re in pretty good shape. We’re up against it, but we’re getting better each week. We always said we’d get better the longer the tour went on.

“There are still things to work on, but this was a really important result for those players who had been in front in the other two midweek games only to let those leads slip.

“We squeezed them and played some good rugby. That try that Jared Payne scored was pretty impressive and Jack Nowell scored a couple of tries as well, so we’re starting to finish a little bit.

“That comes from spending time together. We know we have a few things to tidy up, but we took the legs from them and that enabled us to play some good rugby.

“The guys are pretty happy in the changing room. We had a couple of songs, so there’s good spirit and this was a great result for this group of players.”

Nowell resurrected his chances of participating in the Test series by crossing in each half, enabling him to atone for a poor performance against the Blues two weeks ago.

“We wanted to come here and be remembered. A couple of midweek games haven’t gone our way, discipline has been massive for us,” Nowell said.

“We wanted to play with a bit of excitement and score a few tries and finish the last midweek game going into the series well.

“Back at Exeter they call me the ‘Pick and Go King’ because I keep scoring the forwards’ tries.”