British and Irish Lions kick off tour of New Zealand with a loss

British and Irish Lions kick off their tour of New Zealand with a loss.

Rugby NZ Lions Op
The British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand is now well underway. The tour kicked off with the hosts beating the Lions 30-15 in the first Test in Auckland.

Despite a glorious try from Sean O'Brien on the 35-minute mark – dubbed one of the greatest in Lions history – the All Blacks were back to their best and proved too strong. The All Blacks have not lost at the Westpac Stadium since 1994 and it is a record that does not look likely to change anytime soon.

The first-half was action packed and at half time, the score line stood at 13-8. Codie Taylor's brilliant pick-up was the catalyst for the opening try for the All Blacks before the visitors hit back with a mesmerising length-of-pitch run by Liam Williams, executed by Sean O'Brien.

Even with the Lions threatening early in the second half, their lack of clinical finishing was punished when the hosts struck yet again via a try from Rieko Ioane. And as the scoreline grew wider, so did the confidence of the All Blacks. The hosts soon began to take control and took advantage of Warren Gatland's lack of options from the bench.

Kieran Reed led from the front for the All Blacks and fly-half Beauden Barrett produced a tremendous performance, landing an impressive six from six. Rhys Webb did grab a consolation try for the visitors but it was too little too late. The Lions are still searching for their second series in New Zealand, having won just one series there in their history. And it looks like their search may go on for another year, the world champions are showing no signs of slipping up and it's going to take something special from Gatland's men should be they be victorious in the series.

Rugby Crowd NZ Lions
The tour may be in its early days but there is already an air of controversy in the competition, with Gatland's comments about the All Blacks' treatment of scrum-half Conor Murray described as desperate by New Zealand coach Steve Hansen. Gatland accused the hosts of illegally targeting Murray throughout the 30-15 defeat and stated that they could have caused the Munster man a career-ending injury. While rugby is not a greatly complicated sport to play, there are countless guides to Rugby that shed some light on how the game should be played.

Of Gatland's comments, Hansen said: "What he's implying is we are deliberately going out to injure somebody, and that's not the case. I guess he might be a bit desperate."

The next Test comes on Saturday in Wellington, although a match against Hurricanes is up next on Tuesday. The Super Rugby champions will be a tough test for Gatland's men as they again play at the Westpac Stadium.

For the second Test, Gatland has admitted that he "might have to shake it up a little bit". The coach is set to introduce flanker Sam Warburton and lock Maro Itoje into the starting 15 for Saturday's test following the host's domination in the opener. Both Warburton and Itoje came off the bench in Auckland.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland smiles after their victory during the International Test match between the Australian Wallabies and British & Irish Lions at ANZ Stadium on July 6, 2013
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