by Simon Lewis, Rotorua
MAORI ALL BLACKS 10 LIONS 32
Key moment: After Leigh Halfpenny's goal-kicking had put the Lions in the driving seat at 15-10, five from five after 43 minutes, Maori indiscipline came at a higher cost when scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow was yellow-carded for dropping a shoulder into the head of the Lions full-back. During his spell in the bin, Warren Gatland's side scored two tries as the forwards exerted their dominance, a penalty try with an automatic conversion and a Maro Itoje strike from close range, converted by Halfpenny, sending the Lions into an unassailable lead at 29-10.
Talking point: After a week on the back foot following defeat to the Highlanders and a losing public relations battle with the All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and his New Zealand media mouthpieces, this was a victory that put the Lions back on track heading into the first Test with the backbone of the starting XV who will go into battle at Eden Park. Never mind the perceived lack of quality of the call-ups coming in for Tuesday's Chiefs game, Gatland's Test squad is looking in fine form.
Key man: Leigh Halfpenny kicked seven kicks from seven attempts to lay the foundations of this much-needed Lions victory. The Wales full-back is looking back to his best after a couple of injury-hit seasons with Toulon and served a reminder of the kicking accuracy that was instrumental in their 2013 series victory over the Wallabies in Australia.
Ref watch: South Africa's Jaco Peyper will take charge of next Saturday's first Test against the All Blacks and after all the controversy over Southern Hemisphere refs at scrum time the tourists will be happy with his officiating as they dominated the set-piece. The Maori were ill-disciplined throughout and saw Tawera Kerr-Barlow yellow carded while others might have followed for repeated infringements but the Lions have got their disciplinary act together, at last, conceding just four penalties, all of them before half-time.
There was a lesson in the new laws on stroke of half time when Johnny Sexton kicked a penalty to touch rather than dead, meaning the Lions had to take the lineout. They duly secured the ball and kicked it dead.
Penalties conceded: Maori All Blacks 15 Lions 4
Injuries: Back rower Ross Moriarty was ruled out for the remainder of the tour before kick-off, having failed to appear since the opening game after succumbing to a back nerve injury but there were no further scares for the Lions medics at first glance. The Lions are still sweating on the speed of Owen Farrell's recovery from a thigh strain with the first Test just seven days away.
Next up: A short drive across the North Island to Hamilton, Warren Gatland's hometown, where the Lions face the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium on Tuesday. Five days out from the opening Test, the tourists can be expected to field a matchday 23 that will not be involved against the All Blacks at Eden Park.