Lions tour: British and Irish media react to the Lions' first Test loss to the All Blacks

  • 25/06/2017

There's a certain sense of disappointment prevailing through the UK media this morning after the Lions' first Test loss to the All Blacks.

However, it's one which is tempered by the recognition that although they squandered the few opportunities they managed to create, they were clearly second best throughout the contest.

Take a peek below at a few snippets from the north's reaction to New Zealand's comprehensive win.

Paul Rees, The Guardian

"There are times when escaping from Alcatraz feels a softer option than defeating the All Blacks in Auckland.

"Perhaps most worrying for the visitors was how they were tactically unpicked by an All Black pack they had hoped to dominate. Instead of relying on little chips over the top from Beauden Barrett to try and discomfort the Lions’ rush defence, Steve Hansen ensured his team took the more direct route, inviting the sprightly Aaron Smith to attack closer to the rucks before his big forwards smashed their way over the gainline. 

"The Lions did some heroic and prolonged defending and will take solace from the spectacular length-of-the-field try finished by Sean O’Brien but the reality of their predicament is unavoidable. Barring the mother of all series fightbacks, a 3-0 blackwash is now a looming possibility."

Mick Cleary, The Telegraph UK

"It wasn’t that the Lions were inept. It was that the outcome had a sense of inevitability about it.  This was a lap of deep reflection for the Lions. The honour belonged to the All Blacks.

"The Lions will rue their rashness, converting only one from four gilt-edge opportunities, (excepting Webb’s effort), the All Blacks meanwhile hitting a perfect return on their sorties towards the try-line, rookie wing, Rieko Ioane getting two tries, hooker Codie Taylor the other. That was Ioane’s first start while Taylor is not normally first choice. Such riches. Such prowess. Scary."  

Brodie Retallick was a stand-out performer for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty
Brodie Retallick was a stand-out performer for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Getty

Tom Fordyce, BBC Sport

"New Zealand's win was the equivalent of the boxing world title fight where you fall in love with the idea of an underdog triumph and then watch the inevitable take over with familiar speed.

"As on so many occasions in their six-year reign as world champions, Steve Hansen's men played at a level that no other team can match - dominant at the breakdown, incisive in attack, playing with both pace and precision.

"When they purr, as they did on Saturday, the All Blacks appear about 10% faster in all they do than the opposition.

"They seem to take double the number of risks in handling and drop the ball half as much. They wait with patience for an opening and then strike with the sort of dramatic acceleration that pulls defences apart.

"The Lions gave many of their supporters hope on Saturday. Against a team as accomplished as the All Blacks, that may be as good as it gets."

Sir Clive Woodward, Daily Mail

"The bottom line is New Zealand were immense, tactically astute and continue to play the game half a yard quicker in thought and deed than anybody else in world rugby. The wonder is that they have been doing that for a century or more. Nothing changes.

"The All Blacks don't just have golden generations here and there, they have them all the time, and it's what makes them arguably the greatest sports team in the world. 

"Remember, by the way, that they lost two of their front-line backs in the first half and had to move Beauden Barrett to full-back and bring on a new fly-half. Yet you would scarcely have known."

Gerry Thornley, Irish times

"Just too good. The world’s best side at this point in time - and perhaps any other - showed no signs of rust and, a little scarily, will probably only sharpen and fine tune and highly skilled game.

"Having played perhaps a little impatiently and with too much width in the first-half, the All Blacks adapted to the heavy rain which hit the third quarter with a narrow, more direct and ruthlessly effective game, before choosing their moment to go wide to clinical effect."