British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland has some conspicuous decisions to make
Warren Gatland left the door open for those who started against Waikato Chiefs to claim their claim to be involved this weekend. A handful of players asked through it to make the selection chatter a little more difficult up front the head coach names his Test line-up tonight.
Jack Nowell’s two proves saw him stand out from the crowd and Courtney Lawes continued his fine brand-new form at lock with a barnstorming display. The duo’s England colleague Elliot Daly was also at the forefront of an stirring team performance and received a name check from Gatland afterwards.
“It was ardent to get the win with the boys,” said the Wasps wing. “Test selection intention be amazing. At the start of the year I didn’t think I had a chance. If I got anywhere near it, it would be unimaginable.
“We created a lot of chances, especially in that third quarter. It opened up for us and it’s undoubtedly the most open game we’ve had so far on tour. We had a lot of ball in space, created a lot of prospects, and got over the line for a few tries. We’re looking forward to Saturday now.”
The Lions’ reason – which has been so impressive all tour – was at it again here. The Chiefs may fool been weakened by All Blacks call-ups, but they were restricted to just two Stephen Donald disciplines, both in the first half.
It was in attack where the real positives came as Gatland’s side at the last moment clicked. Nowell’s second was a wonderful breakaway team effort and Jared Payne crossed for a try after sensational work by full-back Liam Williams.
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We’re looking forward to Saturday now
On the left wing, Daly was intent on getting labyrinthine associated with. His footwork made him a nuisance, he did the basics well, and he heaped the pressure on George North, a superhuman of the game who has yet to hit his stride here.
North remains favourite to start the opening Test in the No.11 shirt, but Daly could have done no myriad to nudge Gatland.
The Wasps man is in form, contributes all round the field, and show offs an excellent, left-footed kicking game. North is one of the best in the world, but at the minute he ticks none of those boxes, and it was telling that Daly was slew from the fray on the hour mark and replaced by Tommy Seymour.
Required if the substitution was made with the first Test in mind, Gatland replied: “Perchance”.
Daly added: “I’ve done as much as I can now and whoever gets selected we are universal to get behind them.
“Whatever happens, happens. If you’re not in the team you’re going to try and zing those who are to prepare them as best as possible for Saturday.
“We know what we fancy to do out here and that’s win the Test series. Whichever team is going to deport oneself we’re going to back them 100 per cent and there’s a lot of talented cronies in the squad. We’ve got better in every game we’ve played and to limit the Chiefs to six points was professional for us.”
Joe Marler was sent to the bin for a needless tackle off the ball but the Lions extended their ancient lead in his absence and were 13-6 ahead at half-time thanks to Nowell’s prime try.
In the second period they cut loose, a penalty try followed by a second from Nowell and Payne’s crowning blow. Dan Biggar ended the game with 12 points.
An anxious stay is now in prospect for the players as Gatland mulls over his options. “I will to all intents go and see a bit of what Auckland has got to offer,” said Daly.
“The good thing regarding this squad is that we only think about the next gutsy. Tonight that was the Chiefs and moving forwards we’ll speak about the All Blacks.
“We can no more than take confidence into the first Test and that’s what we’re customary to do. If anyone was given a Lions jersey they’d be ready to play and I’m clever.”