Fulltime score: Round III, Tri Nations Great Britain Lions 26 v New Zealand Kiwis 42
An early penalty saw the Lions post first points in the match through the boot of Paul Deacon, but the Kiwis hit back with two tries in the next five minutes to establish an early advantage.
The Lions were looking rusty in their first hit-out since last years Tri-Nations final, and the Kiwis extended their lead to 18-2 before the Lions clawed back with a try to back-rower Paul Johnson. However a further Kiwi try saw them take a 24-8 lead into the sheds, and things were looking ominous for the second half.
The Lions came out firing after the break, and some customary defensive lapses from the Kiwis allowed the Lions to close the gap up to 24-20 within seven minutes. However, unlike the first two matches, the Kiwis did not surrender their lead this time.
Against the run of play, Clinton Toopi crossed in the 53rd minute before Paul Johnson completed a hat-trick for the Lions to leave the Kiwis holding a four point advantage leading into the final ten minutes.
Despite the urgings of a vocal crowd, the Lions were not able to build further on their strong momentum and were finished off by a try to Paul Rauhihi and a second for Toopi as the Kiwis wrapped up the match.
The Kiwis were well served by a dominant forward pack, especially David Solomona who often created space with some great off-loads. Brent Webb turned in a five-star performance, feeding off the great platform being laid by the men up front, and both Kiwi wingers Manu Vatuvei and Jake Webster looked dangerous out wide.
For the Lions, Paul Johnson was easily their best player and claimed official man-of-the-match honours. Keiron Cunningham looked dangerous when he decided to run, and Stuart Fielden was strong up front, but the rest of the team will be looking for some sharp improvement if they hope to progress any further in this competition.
Scorers: GREAT BRITAIN LIONS 26 Tries: Johnson 3, Senior Goals: Deacon 1/1, Sinfield 4/4 NEW ZEALAND KIWIS 42 Tries: Webb 2, Toopi 2, Vatuvei, Webster, Rauhihi Goals: Jones 7/7
Venue: Loftus Road, London Referee: Glen Black (NZ) Half time: Lions 8 Kiwis 24
Live commentary: Good morning! Welcome to London for the next instalment in the 2005 Tri-Nations as Great Britain play their opening match in the series against the Kiwis.
The anthems have been sung, the Haka has fired everyone up, it's time to get underway!
0 min: KICKOFF! Motu Tony takes the kick, the Lions have first use of the ball.
1 min: Paul Rauhihi is penalised for a lazy flop, handing some easy metres to the Lions.
2 min: ON REPORT - David Solomona (Kiwis) for a dangerous throw.
2 min: PENALTY GOAL - Lions Paul Deacon takes the two points from the resulting penalty. Lions 2 Kiwis 0
3 min: TRY - Kiwis Amazing start here! The Lions knock-on from the restart, and from the scrum Stacey Jones puts Brent Webb into a huge gap for an easy try. Stacey Jones converts. Lions 2 Kiwis 6
6 min: TRY - Kiwis Manu Vatuvei crosses out wide after a penalty gave the Kiwis a quick ride downfield. The Lions defence is looking shaky early on. Jones nails a beauty from out wide. Lions 2 Kiwis 12
11 min: The video ref is called upon to check a possible Kiwis try ...
11 min: NO TRY - Kiwis Manu Vatuvei's amazing effort is in vain as the Video Ref disallows what appears a fair try. David Solomona had set it up with a deft grubber into the in-goal.
13 min: A bomb from the Kiwis is fumbled by Brian Carney, but the Kiwis are unable to take advantage and a hand-over results.
15 min: Once again the Kiwis are looking ominous on attack, but an intercept from Keith Senior eases the pressure.
16 min: Paul Whatuira picks up a Lions grubber and runs 60 metres downfield before knocking-on in a tackle.
19 min: NO TRY - Lions Keiron Cunningham is held up over the line. The Lions have begun to find some gaps in the Kiwis defensive line.
20 min: NO TRY - Lions Leon Pryce crosses out wide, but the final pass was ruled forward.
22 min: Another Kiwis bomb is fumbled by Brian Carney, this time the Kiwis gain possession and six more tackles.
23 min: The video ref is checking another possible Kiwi try ...
23 min: TRY - Kiwis Jake Webster flies high to claim a Stacey Jones cross-field kick and dots down for his own birthday try. Jones kicks another two points, and has now scored over 100 points in Kiwi colours. Lions 2 Kiwis 18
28 min: TRY - Lions Paul Johnson crosses for the Lions after finding some space out wide and running 30 metres to score. Kevin Sinfield's kick is successful, bouncing in off the posts. Lions 8 Kiwis 18
30 min: The Kiwis have put the kick-off out on the full, over the dead ball line.
32 min: NO TRY - Lions The Lions are held up once again. Plenty of gaps in both defensive lines at the moment. As play continues, a high cross-field kick is well claimed by Manu Vatuvei.
36 min: Some enterprising play from the Kiwis (set up by a great off-load from Paul Rauhihi) is brought undone as Ali Lauitiiti throws a pass over the sideline.
38 min: Another video ref check, possible Kiwis try ...
38 min: TRY - Kiwis Brent Webb crosses for his second try, following great lead-up work from Stacey Jones and Paul Whatuira up the middle. Jones keeps his perfect kicking record intact. Lions 8 Kiwis 24
40 min: The Kiwis create some space out wide through an Awen Guttenbeil offload, but Paul Whatuira knocks-on.
HALFTIME: Lions 8 Kiwis 24 The Kiwis have dominated in the forwards to set up a solid lead at halftime. On the other side, the Lions have already replaced Paul Deacon at halfback as they search for a spark to get themselves back into the match. The Lions completed only 45% of their sets in the first half, compared to the Kiwis 65%.
The second half is underway!
44 min: The Lions are putting some good pressure on here, and now they've got a scrum feed 10 metres from the Kiwis line.
45 min: VIDEO REF - possible Lions try.
45 min: TRY - Lions Keith Senior crashes across to get the Lions off to the perfect start in the second forty. Sinfield adds the extras. Lions 14 Kiwis 24
47 min: TRY - Lions A huge break from Stuart Fielden sees Paul Johnson cross for his second try of the night. Some very worrying signs for the Kiwi boys out there now. Sinfield converts. Lions 20 Kiwis 24
50 min: Nearly another Lions try as a kick is fumbled by the Kiwis, but they are penalised for tackling Stacey Jones without the ball.
53 min: TRY - Kiwis Clinton Toopi gets the Kiwis back on track as the Kiwi forwards rediscover their offloading magic. Jones is successful with the conversion. Lions 20 Kiwis 30
55 min: A Kiwis knock-on and a penalty have handed excellent field position to the Lions.
57 min: The Kiwis survive on defense and then launch a counter-attack that sees Clinton Toopi make a clean break up the touchline, but the movement breaks down.
60 min: TRY - Lions Paul Johnson crosses for his hat-trick, spinning out of tackles close to the Kiwis line. Despite brief glimpses of spark from the Kiwis, all the momentum is definitely with the Lions now. Sinfield adds the extras. Lions 26 Kiwis 30
62 min: Brian Carney continues his horror night by throwing a pass over the Lions dead-ball line. Some heavy rain has started to fall.
63 min: Video ref once again, possible Kiwis try ...
63 min: NO TRY - Kiwis Another amazing effort from Manu Vatuvei is disallowed. From the resulting scrum, the Kiwis gift another penalty to the Lions.
67 min: A suicidal Clinton Toopi offload on his own 20 metre line is claimed by the Lions, but the Kiwis defence holds.
71 min: Motu Tony has cleaned up Lee Gilmour with a great tackle, forcing a turnover. Good field position for the Kiwis here.
72 min: Video ref AGAIN (!), possible Kiwis try ...
72 min: TRY - Kiwis A beautiful pass from Stacey Jones in front of the Lions posts puts Paul Rauhihi over for a try - his first in Kiwi colours. Can the Lions come back from this? Jones kicks the conversion. Lions 26 Kiwis 36
73 min: David Kidwell knocks-on from the kickoff, but the Lions turn the ball straight back over after the scrum.
75 min: TRY - Kiwis Clinton Toopi puts the match to bed with his second try of the night. Some great offloading from the Kiwis once again to present the chance. Jones converts. Lions 26 Kiwis 42
FULL TIME: Lions 26 Kiwis 42 Despite the usual second half lapses from the Kiwis, they have emerged victorious to cement top spot on the Tri-Nations table. The Lions showed glimpses of form, and will be looking to improve quickly before their next match against the Kangaroos.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Brent Webb (Kiwis) 2 - Paul Johnson (Lions) 1 - David Solomona (Kiwis) -----------------------------------------