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Gatland concerned by targeting of Lions scrum-half Murray

Gatland concerned by targeting of Lions scrum-half Murray”

Savea, Barrett, Laumape and flanker Vaea Fifita were all released by Steve Hansen for the clash, with Fifita, capped for the All Blacks for the first time against Samoa, joined in the pack by Captain, No. 8 Brad Shields and Maori All Black prop Ben May.

"There were a couple of times where he's kicked and they've just pushed him to the ground after he's box kicked, so I don't know if it was a tactic", said Gatland.

Granted, there was the missed tackle on Israel Dagg in the build-up to the match-turning try nearing the hour by Reiko Ioane, although it was the right read as the Lions' backline were splintered and caught on the back foot by their retreating scrum and the suddenness with which Kieran Read and Aaron Smith launched the attack. It wasn't easy, I thought the Lions played magnificently.

Williams went agonisingly close but the Lions choose the wrong option from the ruck, opting to plug the short side rather than opt for space. That was fair enough to some extent, but when he piped up again after the loss to the Highlanders about a possible obstruction in the build up to Waisake Naholo's try, a few alarm bells started ringing.

The Lions need their replacements to do something unexpected, and preferably a touch of genius, unlike Liam Williams' drop which allowed Iaone to speed away and put the game out of reach for the Lions.

"It's not intentional and people make mistakes".

The Lions were not helped when some of the 50/50 refereeing decisions went the All Blacks way, but that is often the case when one team is dominant.

"But if he's nowhere near the ball and he's hit our guy off the ball, it needs to be looked at".

Maro Itoje is pressing for a start in the second test in Wellington. Lawes, so impressive against the Waikato Chiefs, deserves a look in.

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Gatland's issues came when, looking to chase the game at the 60-minute mark, a point where the All Blacks are notoriously better than any other team at stepping up a gear, he was left with only Johnny Sexton and Leigh Halfpenny as options from the bench. Sam Warburton was excellent as well at the breakdown when he came on.

In the backs England's star Owen Farrell did not play particularly well, and Ireland's Johnny Sexton has a real opportunity to show what he can do if he is selected.

The comments come after verbal grenades were lobbed by both camps in the build up to the first Test, a game the All Blacks won 30-15.

If the Lions could win the series and be considered ace blokes with it, it would be a double win.

The Lions had experimented with Sexton and Farrell earlier on the tour against the Crusaders and it certainly seemed to stifle the creativity and excitement of the Lions backline.

They all proceeded to have a cuppa and a chat, the brothers still sharing the same bedroom.

British and Irish Lions' Owen Farrell kicks a penalty during the first test of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour at Eden Park, Auckland.

This week it's the Hurricanes and the selection for that side may indicate Garland's alternative plans for Saturday's test series deciders.

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