Warren Gatland hails Lions' dominance as All Blacks opener looms

Warren Gatland hails Lions' dominance as All Blacks opener looms
Sam Warburton of the British & Irish Lions during the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Warren Gatland was pleased with his side's dominance as the British and Irish Lions defeated the Maori All Blacks 32-10 in Rotorua and hopes it stands them in good stead for their opening Test against New Zealand.

A penalty try and further score from Maro Itoje crushed the Maori spirit, with the home side given precious few chances to steal a victory to emulate their predecessors of 2005.

The Maori stunned the Lions 19-13 some 12 years ago, but here the tourists wrestled their hosts into submission.

Leigh Halfpenny's six penalties and flawless 20-point haul from the boot underpinned a muscular triumph, with the tourists dominant at the set-piece and all tight exchanges.

Gatland told Sky Sports 1: "If you look at territory and position we dominated things.

"We had to tidy up a few things at half-time...but, apart from a couple of stupid penalties in the first half, I thought we played some good rugby, we managed the game really well and we squeezed the life out of them basically.

"We we smart. There was a period in that first half...we've been guilty in other games of just playing too much around the 10-metre line, putting ourselves under a bit of pressure, but we got some good go-forward ball, created some good opportunities and defended well.

Jonathan Sexton of the British & Irish Lions kicks to restart the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Jonathan Sexton of the British & Irish Lions kicks to restart the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

"They never really put us under any real pressure, even the try they scored. We're really pleased with our performance.

"Up front the scrum was good and the line-out in the game was excellent.

"What's so strong about New Zealand rugby is that these guys play at that level week in and week out and we're benefiting from that experience against the teams and the quality of the sides we're playing and hopefully that sets us up nicely for the Test next week.

"By the looks of it it's going to be a cracking series."

When quizzed about his thoughts on the team to face the All Blacks in next Saturday's first Test, Gatland admitted he would have to have another look after Tuesday's match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Asked how many names Gatland already had in his starting XI for next weekend's match, he replied: "I don't know yet, we've got to get through Tuesday yet. That's another big challenge for us. And then (we can) start thinking about next Saturday."

A general view of a scrum during the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
A general view of a scrum during the match between the Maori All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Rotorua International Stadium in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

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