Nowell stars as Lions brush Chiefs aside

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Jack Nowell crossed for two tries as the British and Irish Lions wrapped up their Test series preparations with a 34-6 victory over the Chiefs.

Warren Gatland's squad for Saturday's opening encounter with New Zealand is thought to be all but set in stone, leaving Tuesday's clash in Hamilton to be billed as the match nobody wanted to play in.

But the Lions' fringe players turned in a strong performance in Gatland's home city, albeit against a Chiefs side shorn of its All Blacks and Maori stars.

Nowell - a Chief of the Exeter variety - raised his hand highest in the clamour for Test consideration, scoring once in each half, but there were also strong performances from the likes of Liam Williams and Courtney Lawes.

The Lions were frustrated in the opening stages, Dan Biggar opening the scoring from the tee in the ninth minute after Wales colleague Williams had spilled forwards to halt a promising attacking move.

Gatland's men were dealt a setback when Joe Marler was sin binned after he poleaxed Nepo Laulala with his left shoulder, but the Lions emerged from that 10-minute period unscathed, with Biggar and Stephen Donald exchanging three-pointers.

The tourists then made the breakthrough by scoring the opening try of a match for the first time since the third Australia Test in 2013.

Nowell picked up the ball from the back of the ruck and dived over a pile of bodies to touch down.

Biggar added the extras but Donald's second penalty of the match kept the Chiefs in the match at 13-6 going into the break.

A second head injury assessment in a week for Lawes brought Alun Wyn Jones briefly into the fray and the Welsh lock marshalled a lineout that led to a penalty try and a yellow card for Mitchell Brown.

With the Chiefs down to 14, the Lions pulled clear - Nowell found a gap in the home defence to finish off an excellent passing move, before former Chiefs man Jared Payne went over following a stunning burst of pace from Williams.

Payne was then on the receiving end of a loose pass from replacement Tommy Seymour as the Lions closed on the Chiefs try line, fumbling the ball forwards, but the match was already won, with Gatland given plenty to think about following a first midweek win of the tour.