Rugby Union: Hunter blow in Lions' success

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The Independent Online
North Auckland. . . .17

British Isles. . . . 30

THE LIONS secured a crucial first tour win over North Auckland here yesterday but at a high cost. Ian Hunter, the England wing, suffered a dislocation of his right shoulder and will have to be replaced.

Hunter was helped off after 39 minutes following his tackle on David Manako, the All Black trialist wing. Manako was grounded by Hunter's one-armed tackle but bounced back to his feet, dragging the Northampton player with him.

It was obvious that Hunter had sustained a serious injury and it is the latest in a series of setbacks. Hunter injured a leg playing football during training with Northampton and missed the game with South Africa in November.

He played against Wales and received a stud in his right eye which required the insertion of a plastic tear duct. Then came a knee operation and major question marks over his ability even to make the seven-week Lions tour.

Geoff Cooke, the team manager, said: 'We all feel very sorry for Ian because he has worked so hard this week. He fulfilled his dream of becoming a Lion and then this happens in the first game. We will contact the Home Unions about a replacement.'

Tony Stanger, the Scotland wing, would be the automatic choice but there are doubts over his injured back.

The Hunter injury dominated the post-match discussion and clouded what had been a satisfactory first outing for the Lions.

They faced a North Auckland side built around All Black lock Ian Jones and backed by a 25,000 crowd covering the grass bank which dominates Okara Park.

The Lions, led by England's Stuart Barnes, made a hesitant start and gifted North Auckland 12 points. Anthony Clement, the Welsh full-back, was involved in both scores but he could claim to have been badly supported on each occasion.

It took Barnes's willingness to counter-attack to drag the Lions back into the game and two tries in as many minutes midway through the first half brought some order to a frantic match.

Barnes said: 'A defeat in this match would have been catastrophic for morale. Now we can relax knowing the tour is on the road. We also have an idea of what will be needed during the rest of the tour.'

Paul Burnell became the first temporary replacement under the new International Board laws. He took over from Peter Wright when his fellow Scotland prop went off for a stitch in a facial cut.

While Burnell did not make a telling contribution with the ball during his two minutes, he can at least point out that a Lions try was scored while he was on the pitch.

Doug Te Puni, the North Auckland hooker, had already raced 40 metres to punish the first Lions error when Barnes suddenly sprinted on to an inside pass from Clement. He drew the cover defence and fed Jeremy Guscott, who cruised in for a try which Barnes converted. A Scott Hastings try extended the Lions lead to 12-5 after Rory Underwood bravely won back a Robert Jones high kick.

The unfortunate Clement lost control of the ball on his own 22- metre line minutes later and Mark Seymour, the North Auckland centre, was given a clear run to the line. Warren Johnston's conversions tied matters 12-12.

A Barnes penalty preceded Hunter's departure and Gavin Hastings took over at full-back with Clement switched to the wing. Clement made an immediate impact with a 45th minute try and Hastings added the conversion and a penalty.

Underwood completed the Lions try scoring a minute from time. Troy Going was the other home try scorer although the referee failed to spot a ball-boy handing the ball to a North Auckland player for the quick throw-in. This should have made the try illegal.

North Auckland: W Johnston; T Going, C Going, M Seymour, D Manako; A Monaghan, R Le Bas; L Davies, D Te Puni (L Sigley, 77), C Barrell, E Jones, I Jones, G Taylor, K Tuipolotu (R Hilton-Jones, 56), A Going.

BRITISH ISLES: A Clement (Wal); I Hunter (Eng), S Hastings (Sco), J Guscott, R Underwood; S Barnes (Eng, capt), R Jones (Wal); J Leonard, B Moore (Eng), P Wright, D Cronin, A Reed (Sco), M Galwey (Irl), B Clarke (Eng), R Webster (Wal). Replacement: G Hastings (Sco) for Hunter, 38 min. Temporary replacement: P Burnell (Sco) for Wright, 24-26 min.

Referee: L McLachlan (Dunedin).

Scores: 5-0 (try Te Puni, 10 min), 5-7 (try/con Guscott/Barnes, 23 min), 5-12 (try S Hastings, 29 min), 12-12 (try/con Seymour/Johnston, 29 min), 12-15 (pen Barnes, 32 min), 12-22 (try/con Clement/G Hastings, 44 min), 12-25 (pen G Hastings, 49 min), 17-25 (try T Going, 76 min), 17-30 (try Underwood, 79 min).

(Photograph omitted)