Mistakes proved costly for Maori All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     18 Jun 2017     Getty Images

The Lions took a significant boost from the outcome which was based on another strong performance from their pack.
Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper didn't expect too much would change in the Lions approach in the Test series from what his side experienced in Rotorua. Their game would be based around their good scrum, their lineout drive and their aerial attack.

Cooper said the Maori had made too many mistakes, especially under the high ball and that had allowed the Lions to pin them inside their own half.

"We were under pressure in our half but when we got out of our half we looked better but we couldn't maintain that. There were probably too many errors," he said.

Halfback Conor Murray and first five-eighths Johnny Sexton had shown their expertise with their kicking game. They gave the ball a lot of height and had good chasers and the Maori had dropped too many balls, Cooper said.

When they did catch the kicks the Lions maintained good pressure and pinned the Maori in their own half. It hadn't helped that they lost their own halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow to the sin-bin early in the second half.

"They scored two tries so it [the yellow card] hurt us and against an international team like that if you try and play 14 men you're going to suffer for that," he said.

Captain Ash Dixon was happy with the preparation the side had. They had started the game well and their defence had held during the first half and they had some good momentum.

"I think in that second half when we came out our discipline really let us down. We had a penalty and we were in our own half then another penalty and a dropped ball.

"I think at this level it's crucial that you've got to exit really well and you can't make a lot of mistakes in your half and we got pinned down in our corner for a good 20 minutes there and we paid the price," he said.

Cooper, who is taking over the coaching of the Chiefs side next year, said he felt Damian McKenzie was a first five-eighths and he would learn from his experience with the Maori in that position in the game. He had to leave the field after suffering a neck injury and he was confident he would get better with more time in the position.

Dixon said he thought the Lions would be competitive in the Test series. They had kept things simple in the second half and they had played to their strengths in the wet conditions.

He did say the All Blacks would be smart, they wouldn't just roll up and it would be a well-contested series.

Dixon said the Maori pack had been slow to appreciate the differences of playing a northern hemisphere pack. When they did they improved at scrum time, but it was away from that unity that they under-performed.