Lions captain Warburton casts doubt over role in opening All Blacks Test

Lions captain Warburton casts doubt over role in opening All Blacks Test

Lions captain Warburton casts doubt over role in opening All Blacks Test

They struggled in the scrums against the All Blacks-laden pack, but that was an area where the Crusaders were frequently penalised, and Peter O'Mahony and Alun Wyn Jones ensured the Lions functioned better at the lineouts.

Henry also defended the style of rugby which the Lions have played under Warren Gatland.

This was the day the 2017 Lions built a Test-quality outfit.

The 28-year-old has not featured since the opening game of the tour, but will lead the team out in Tuesday's clash with the Highlanders having overcome an injury sustained in the win over New Zealand Provincial Barbarians.

The Lions have emphasized the importance of not losing momentum achieved against the Crusaders or falling away from the form benchmark.

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Instead they have listened to local complaints about scrummaging, refereeing and boring tactics with quiet enjoyment and Farrell's nonchalant response - "They have to talk about something" - sums up the squad's collective view that deeds rather than words will define this tour. "The pace they play on the back of that attacking kicking game is great to watch".

Warburton is now back in action and captains the Lions against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Tuesday.

"Facing the haka as a player is one of those spectacular things. It was a terrific performance from the Lions in that regard". They've got another two or three games before the Test so hopefully they can get some combinations working. Watching, then re-watching, Saturday's game, as many as 11 players shot their hands up for Test Series selection.

The Lions defence, in particular, was outstanding, earning nine turnovers compared to four from the Crusaders.

The Television Match Official (TMO) ruled a drive to the line "inconclusive" as to whether a try had been scored.

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Nowell will be looking to improve on what was a disappointing display against the Blues and he has shown how unsafe he can be for the Chiefs, and if Joseph and Henshaw can find space in the middle of the park - perhaps running off Stander's shoulder - they should test the Highlanders in defence too. The tourists know full well how annoying that is to opponents, and are quite right to keep doing it.

A much improved performance saw Owen Farrell kick all of the Lions' points, with the Crusaders' only score coming from a Richie Mo'unga penalty.

"The first game wasn't an ideal situation, but that's part and parcel of being on this tour", said Joseph. Apart from one misfired pass which potentially cost Jonathan Davies a try, Farrell's running game was damaging. As he weighed up how he, Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton are placed ahead of the first Test, he admitted: "It's not nice to be probably the third choice at the moment".

Farrell shone constantly in a first half where the hosts were sloppy, but forever itching to counter from any distance. Job done. The midfield line-speed was excellent, decision making was good and only rarely did the Crusaders, a team that has averaged 37 points per match this season and earned seven try bonuses, look like threatening the Lions' line.

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