All Blacks 30, Lions 15: Simon Lewis talks through the moments that mattered as the All Blacks see off the Lions, writes Simon Lewis.
Key moment: The Lions were in the hunt having trailed 13-8 at half-time and had spurned an opportunity level the scores straight after the restart but as the rain grew heavier early in the second half it was the All Blacks' set-piece that proved decisive when Kieran Read scooped the ball up off a dominant scrum to feed Aaron Smith whose lightning break carved an overlap for Rieko Ioane in the left corner, Beauden Barrett's touchline conversion opening up a 20-8 lead.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 24, 2017
Talking point: When it comes to broken-field play you expect the All Blacks to light the fireworks and explode into creativity yet the best try of a five-score game came from the Lions in the first half. And what a score it was, Liam Williams picking up the ball in his own 22 and breaking through the New Zealand line to advance 30 metres upfield, the full-back offloading to centre Jon Davies who moved it onto wing Elliot Daly. In a sweeping, end to end move the ball went back inside to Davies whose offload found Sean O'Brien in support to finish a sublime move.
Key man: There were eyebrows raised in both camps when New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen dropped wing Julian Savea from the first Test line-up and instead installed rookie Blues flyer Rieko Ioane on the left wing. Savea had scored a hat-trick against Ireland on his Test debut and three caps in Ioane was almost as impressive in his first start, a try in either half in which he burned past the hardly sluggish Elliot Daly breaking Lions hearts. Where Ioane finished, though, captain Kieran Read provided the impetus. Out of the game for seven weeks with a thumb injury, the Crusaders No.8 showed no signs of rust as he hit the ground running and did not let up for one minute of the 75 he was on the field in a peerless performance.
Ref watch: Jaco Peyper appeared to have taken heed of Kiwi perceptions that the Lions persistently strayed offside, the South African penalising the tourists several times in the first half. After a balanced performance in charge of the Maori game the previous week, Peyper left the Lions flummoxed with his decision-making, particularly at the breakdown as the penalty count crept back into double figures and it was noticeable that both Sean O'Brien and Johnny Sexton had words with the referee after the final whistle.
Penalties conceded: All Blacks 6 Lions 11
Injuries: The All Blacks lost two outside backs in the opening half with full-back Ben Smith not returning from a Head Injury Assessment and centre Ryan Crotty limping out with a hamstring injury, immediately ruled out of the second Test by Steve Hansen. Flanker Jerome Kaino also left early into the second half. Lions captain Peter O'Mahony was replaced after receiving treatment on a bang to the shoulder, as did Tadhg Furlong but both appeared okay with Warren Gatland saying his side had collectively suffered a couple of stingers.
Next up: Wellington awaits the British & Irish Lions as they head to the southern end of the North Island to prepare for their final midweek game of the 2017 tour, a Tuesday appointment with the Hurricanes that will give the tourists a pre-second Test taste of the Westpac Stadium. With the series now in the balance, it will be a critical week in the Lions camp.
Sean O'Brien scored one of the greatest tries in British and Irish Lions history - but world champions New Zealand still won a pulsating first Test in emphatic fashion.
Ireland flanker O'Brien pounced four minutes before half-time, finishing off a spectacular 80-metre move that was started by full-back Liam Williams' dazzling running.
New Zealand, though, held firm in the face of some outstanding rugby by the Lions as they triumphed 30-15 and made it 39 successive games unbeaten at Eden Park.
We need to have more game changers on the bench next week and forget about sentiment too certain players #LionsNZ2017— David Gentle🏴 Pearcey(1962-2006) (@DgGentle) June 24, 2017
Hooker Codie Taylor scored a first-half try, before wing Rieko Ioane added two second-half touchdowns - full Test debutant Ioane's first try came after a suspicion of a knock-on before All Blacks skipper Kieran Read brilliantly off-loaded possession - while fly-half Beauden Barrett kicked 15 points.
Owen Farrell added a penalty for the Lions, and replacement scrum-half Rhys Webb claimed a try deep into injury time that Farrell converted, but they will now head to Wellington knowing that victory is required next Saturday to keep the three-match series alive.
At times, New Zealand's speed, awareness and attacking running lines were off the scale, yet the Lions lived with them for much of a memorable encounter.
Williams and his Wales colleague Jonathan Davies were at the attacking heart of thrilling Lions adventure, yet the forwards were given a sometimes torrid time in the scrums, and the All Blacks finished far stronger.
The Lions almost made a dream start, cutting open the New Zealand defence inside two minutes when Davies made a superb break and found scrum-half Conor Murray in support.
Murray was hauled down just short of the line, but possession was then moved wide and wing Elliot Daly looked to have squeezed over in the corner, only to be denied by his opposite number Israel Dagg's quality defensive work.
Just superb from the All Blacks- time to consider "British, French & Irish Lions" for NZ tours? #LionsNZ2017— Guy Winter (@WatchdogNovel) June 24, 2017
The All Blacks appeared rocked, and Murray continued to test them with a number of high kicks, but New Zealand gradually began to find their feet as Barrett drove them into action through a brilliant one-handed pick-up under pressure.
The Lions' defence held firm, though, and wing Anthony Watson needed all his wits about him as he caught a high ball and then cleared as New Zealand threatened a try, before Barrett made it 3-0 through a 14th-minute penalty.
And matters soon deteriorated for the Lions, as just five minutes later, New Zealand sacrificed a kickable close-range penalty and sent possession wide at a rate of knots before Taylor picked up spectacularly and scored out wide before Barrett kicked an effortless touchline conversion.
At 10 points adrift and struggling to cope with the sheer pace and precision of New Zealand's handling game, alarm bells were ringing for the tourists following an opening quarter that began so brightly but ended with them firmly on the back foot.
New Zealand suffered a degree of back division disruption - full-back Ben Smith went off for a head injury assessment, while centre Ryan Crotty departed with a leg injury and Anton Lienert-Brown took over - as Farrell and Barrett exchanged penalties.
The Lions needed to stir, but no-one could have predicted their response, which came through a breathtaking score started from deep inside his own half by Williams, whose mesmeric running saw him beat a number of players and leave New Zealand in reverse gear.
Davies was then involved twice in the move, linking initially with Daly, and then giving the scoring delivery to O'Brien and sending the thousands of Lions fans wild.
Farrell could not convert, yet the Lions could have hardly made a more devasatating statement of intent, trooping off 13-8 adrift at half-time, but having shown the All Blacks the full repertoire of their attacking capability.
Created enough to win, didn't finish breaks. Daly and Williams were impressive and justified selection. 2 mistakes for NZ tries #LionsNZ2017— Henry Donnelly (@HenryDonnelly) June 24, 2017
The Lions almost struck with another wonder score early in the second-half - Wllliams, Davies and Daly were again heavily involved - but New Zealand had just enough in defence to deny them, then Watson set off on a weaving run as the game continued at a relentless pace.
Saracens lock Maro Itoje made his entrance midway through the third quarter, replacing an often out-of-sorts Alun Wyn Jones, with prop Jack McGrath and tour captain Sam Warburton also going on before Ioane's try effectively sealed the contest.
And when Barrett completed his penalty hat-trick and Ioane claimed his second try, there was no way back for the Lions as the wait for a Test victory over the All Blacks - they last achieved one 24 years ago - goes on.