British and Irish Lions 2017: CJ Stander and Leigh Halfpenny rue costly mistakes

There are two rather large issues for coach Warren Gatland to rectify though, and on the face of things they sound rather simple: scoring more tries and stop conceding as many

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The Independent Online

The post-mortem for the British and Irish Lions had already begun by the time the squad left Eden Park on Wednesday night, having suffered the first loss on their tour of New Zealand - one that exposed some serious issues for head coach Warren Gatland.

The New Zealander was right in his estimation that the performance was a much-improved one, but then the Lions could not have been much worse in their tour-opening victory over the Provincial Barbarians 72 hours after landing in Auckland.

There are two rather large issues for Gatland to rectify, though, and on the face of things they sound rather simple: scoring more tries and stop conceding as many. Wednesday’s encounter saw the Blues run three tries past the Lions – and also allow three more to go begging – while the touring side could only muster one, instead relying on the boot of Leigh Halfpenny to keep them in the match.

The All Blacks will not have any trouble crossing the whitewash unless the Lions can find a way of stopping the offload game that put paid to their challenge against the Blues, and Irish No 8 CJ Stander admitted afterward that there was plenty to reflect on for the Lions to learn the errors of their ways so far on the tour.

“I think you’ve got to make decisions when you’re defending,” Stander said, having scored the Lions' only try. “We’ve got a few lessons out of this so we have got to look back and luckily we can learn from this.

“The good thing is there are a lot of work-ons and things that we can fix this week.”

Another issue for Gatland to tackle is the number of penalties that the Lions conceded, having fallen foul on referee Pascal Gauzere on a number of occasions. Stander believes that the Lions need to limit the number of times that they are penalised to below 10, though given that they infringed eight times in the first half alone, there’s plenty of work to be done.

“Just the discipline, keep the penalties down to less than ten, and just make sure we look after the ball,” he added.

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It was another disjointed display by the Lions in Auckland (Getty)

“They were good. As I said during the week, if we make a mistake they’re going to punish us, and they did exactly that. They played for the 80 minutes and they scored an unbelievable try at the end. So we just need to control the game better.”

They were sentiments echoed by Stander’s teammate, Halfpenny, who was the last line of defence that Ihaia West rounded to score. Despite finishing the match with an unblemished 100 per cent record with the boot, Halfpenny was left to rue the momentary lapse in concentration from the team that allowed Steven Luatua and Sonny Bill Williams to break through the defence and send West on his way.

“You can't switch off for one second against these teams, if you do they hurt you,” Halfpenny said. “They play to the full 80 minutes and we have to be fully focused. One lapse of concentration, it can hurt you.”

The good news kept coming for the Blues after Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina, Jerome Kaino, Sonny Bill Williams and Reiko Iaone were all named in Steve Hansen’s 33-man squad to face the Lions next week, while try-scoring hero Ihaia West was named in the New Zealand Maori side that will test the Lions next weekend along with Akira Ioane.

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