New Zealand 30 Lions 15: Wasted chances costly as All Blacks take opener
The British and Irish Lions failed to make enough of their chances count as they were beaten 30-15 in the opening Test against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.
The All Blacks had not lost at Eden Park since 1994 and, while the tourists demonstrated plenty of encouraging signs, they were unable to halt that remarkable run.
Codie Taylor's second try in as many Tests saw the All Blacks into a 10-0 lead, but Sean O'Brien's score - coming after a moment of magic from Liam Williams - ensured the Lions went in at the break just five points adrift.
Despite threatening on numerous occasions to breach the New Zealand defence again, subsequent Lions attacks were almost invariably fruitless.
The All Blacks gained increased control over the match as it moved towards a conclusion, with Rieko Ioane's double putting the result beyond doubt before Rhys Webb crossed for a late consolation.
The Lions gave their hosts early cause for alarm when Jonathan Davies made a superb break, playing in Conor Murray on the All Blacks' 22 only for the Ireland scrum-half to be hauled down just short of the line.
Elliot Daly was denied by Israel Dagg after the Lions sent the ball out to the left wing in the hope of salvaging something from the attack, before Anthony Watson was called into defensive action at the other end as the home side grew into the match.
Watson made himself big to pluck a Beauden Barrett chip out of the air - a try-saving intervention from the England wing with Ioane ready and waiting to apply the finish.
Barrett's first attempt at goal was a good one and Steve Hansen's side soon had the opening try, with Taylor picking the ball off his toes to go over in the corner.
9 - The @AllBlacks have scored the first try of the game in each of their last nine Test matches. Opener.-- OptaJason (@OptaJason) June 24, 2017
The extras from the boot of Barrett moved the All Blacks into a 10-0 lead and Davies' second-minute burst started to feel like a distant memory as the Lions struggled to get out of their own half.
Knock-ons from Alun Wyn Jones, Tadhg Furlong and Elliot Daly saw half-chances fizzle out, but the All Blacks were dealt a blow when Ben Smith left the field for a head injury assessment, forcing Hansen into a reshuffle as Aaron Cruden entered the fray.
The Lions finally made an impression on the scoreboard when Owen Farrell sent over his first penalty attempt shortly after the half-hour mark, but Barrett hit back almost immediately to restore his side's 10-point advantage.
Having already lost Smith, New Zealand were then forced to replace Ryan Crotty due to an apparent hamstring injury, and they were soon undone by Williams, repaying the faith shown in him by Warren Gatland in spades.
The Wales full-back surged from deep inside his own half to the halfway line and, after an exchange of passes between Davies and Daly, O'Brien was on hand to finish off a spectacular move.
The Lions carried their momentum into the early stages of the second half, the likes of Williams, Davies and Watson terrorising the All Blacks with scything runs.
However, they were unable to turn those attacks into points and Ioane helped the All Blacks into a 12-point lead with 25 minutes to play, before another Barrett penalty left the tourists with a mountain to climb.
Errors began to creep into the Lions' game as the match wore on and Ioane doubled his tally by outpacing Daly down the left wing 10 minutes from time - his third try against the Lions on this tour proving the decisive blow.
Webb's pick-and-go after the clock had struck 80 minutes gave the scoreline a less convincing look for the hosts, but the Lions know they must take more of their chances if they are to avoid suffering a series defeat in the second Test.