The importance of warm up games was shown last night when a very rusty Great Britain and Ireland squad took on New Zealand A at Headingley for the Lions only warm up game before next weeks first Think! Don�t Drink Drive Test Match against the Australian Kangaroos.
The Lions despite being without a number of key players like Andy Farrell and Paul Sculthorpe, who were rested to ensure they will be close to 100% to take on the Kangaroos, still should have had no problem defeating the touring Kiwi side which has still not won a game this season.
The New Zealanders wanted to cause an upset, and went close to getting the perfect start in just the 5th minute when Hala Va'asa went over. The pass given to him, by man of the match, and hat-trick try scorer, Lusi Sione, was unfortunately ruled forward.
The Lions collected the first points, when after a move with Barrie McDermott put the home team in an excellent field position, Ryan Hudson moved the ball right, for Sean Long to collect and then pass the short ball to Kris Radlinski to score.
Long added the extras to put the home team up 6 � 0, and had another chance at kicking at the uprights just another 9 minutes later when Wakefield's Gareth Ellis celebrating his debut with a try.
But the Kiwis hit back in style, with Lance Poke putting Va'asa away and Sione supported to score, Buckingham converting.
Britain replied immediately, with Long freeing Lee Gilmour on the left and Ryan Hudson racing over on the inside to become the second debutant to touch down.
New Zealand cut the lead to 18-12 with a second try for Sione, who was first to another Bailey grubber under the British posts, but the Lions restored a 12-point buffer going into the break.
Sean Long looped around Paul Deacon from a scrum move before putting Keith Senior over, in Tame Tupou's tackle, on the right, Long maintaining a 100% record with the boot.
After a pretty poor first half, the Lions came out a far more determined side in the second half, as shown by Terry Newtons and Paul Anderson breaks down the middle.
Warrington�s Paul Wood went close to scoring, but just couldn�t collect a Deacon�s kick, however the Lions were over just a few minutes later when Anderson sent a pass to Kevin Sinfield to score in the 47th minute in the corner.
Long missed his first conversion for the match. Sione, collected his third try of the match, when he took a Bailey cross field bomb in the 53rd minute to make it 34 � 18.
The Lions kept making mistakes as the combinations got a bit more adventurous, the fact the team had never played together before shined through.
Great Britain and Ireland moved ahead again in the 62nd minute when Sinfield, stepping through a gap inside his own half before Long took the move on, and the ever-supporting Radlinski supplied the finishing touches for his second try.
Sinfield added the extra�s and the Lions were soon in again just minutes later after the Lions went wide for Deacon and Senior to combine and send Hodgson over.
Radlinski raced in for his hat trick with three minutes remaining to bring up the half-century, Sinfield adding the final goal.
The loss of Paul Wood was the only real downside of the evening for the Lions injury wise, the Warrington prop suffering a tricep injury on his international debut, while Adrian Morley picked up a slight dead leg.
Graham Steadman was handed the coaching reigns for the game by David Waite, and admitted that there was room for improvement ahead of the First Test on 8 November.
"The first half was very disappointing," he said. "The mentality of the players was disrespectful of the opposition and the ball, but we saw a much improved second half.
"We always knew that this would be their Grand Final and they would give it their best, and they did. "But it was a good hit-out for the guys and and it will be a different level of intensity in the First Test. It's one thing doing practice and our timing was somewhat off in the first half, but much improved in the second."
He added: "Paul Wood is in a lot of discomfort and the early signs are not too good for him, but Adrian is only a minor worry."
New Zealand A coach Gerard Stokes said: "This was the game we were aiming for and our intensity level was great.
"Both teams will benefit greatly from it. Great Britain needed the hit-out and they got belted a few times, but some of their skills were fantastic.
"We achieved our targets, although the scoreline did blow out a little. Lusi Sione would fit into any team at any level and his contribution was fantastic."
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRISH LIONS 52 Tries: Radlinski 3, Ellis, Hudson, Senior, Anderson, Sinfield & Hodgson. Goals: Long 4 & Sinfield 3 Team: Kris Radlinski (Capt), Stuart Reardon, Richard Horne, Keith Senior, David Hodgson, Kevin Sinfield, Sean Long, Stuart Fielden, Ryan Hudson, Barrie McDermott, Adrian Morley, Gareth Ellis, Lee Gilmour; Subs: Terry Newton, Paul Deacon, Paul Wood & Paul Anderson. defeated NEW ZEALAND A KIWIS 18 Tries: Sione 3. Goals: Buckingham 3 Team: Lusi Sione, Vila Apu'ula, Nigel Taumoli, Hale Vaa'sa, Tame Tupou, Gavin Bailey (Capt), Steve Buckingham, Wayne McDade, Jonny Limmer, Tyrone Pau, Jesse Royal, Lance Poka, Hame Lauaki; Subs: Karl Edmondson, George Tuakura, Walter Mackie & Sinave Faitala. Venue: Headingley, Leeds Crowd: 5,217 Date: Wed Oct 29 8:00pm Referee: Steve Ganson (St Helens) Half time: Great Britain 24-12