The early exchanges were pretty torrid with the Maori keen to unsettle the Lions, both at the set piece and in the loose where they were particularly disruptive. However, after Dave Hill had pushed a tenth minute penalty wide of the uprights, Wales outside-half Stephen Jones gave the tourists a 13th minute lead with a penalty from right in front. A scrum infringement from Julian White in the sixteenth minute, following a suicidal knock on from Paul O'Connell, gave Hill the chance to make amends. The Waikato Chiefs pivot duly obliged from thirty metres and the Lions' lead had lasted just three minutes.
Considering Woodward had demanded his players concentrate on ball retention, the Lions were giving up far too much possession in key areas of the pitch. One such error might have brought a try for Rua Tipoki, but Jones emerged from nowhere on his own line to clear the danger with a try saving interception. Another lost ball, this time from Shane Williams might have led to the first elusive try, but with the line at his mercy No.8 Angus Macdonald coughed up possession ten metres short.
They were worrying times for the Lions who had to rely on their excellent defence just to keep the Maori out. However, when Martyn Williams conceded a second penalty of the game, on 24 minutes, Hill stepped up and provided the Maori with a 6-3 lead. Jones pulled a penalty from half way just wide after 28 minutes as the Lions threatened to strike back, but his next contribution, a towering garryowen, left him needing stitches after a stray elbow from Tipoki split his forehead.
Jones returned seven minutes later to be handed an immediate opportunity to level matters when the Maori, once again, strayed offside. His kick was successful and the Lions were back on level terms after 36 minutes. It was hardly a classic, but with so many physical examinations to come, it was proving to be perfect preparation. That situation altered two minutes later when Andrew Sheridan threw a haymaker, which missed, at Luke McAlister and was binned by referee Steve Walsh. Fortunately for the Lions, Hill was once again off target.
The second half began much as the first had with the Maori on top. However, the defensive qualities shown by the Lions in the first half were prevalent once more and a line out steal from O'Connell allayed the early fears. Referee Steve Walsh continued to ignore the forward passes and knocks on from the Maori, but when the Lions lost control he was quick to penalise. It has been a similar story all tour. Sheridan remained on the sidelines even when his ten minutes was up and that meant Gethin Jenkins had another opportunity to cement his place in the Test side. However, his first job was to line up and watch McAlister put the Maori back in front with a penalty.
Martyn Williams was having another of those significant performances in the Lions back row and his constant foraging on the ground and his speed in defence gave the tourists real impetus as they battled their way back into the contest. Unfortunately, there was little Williams, or anyone else for that matter, could do on 59 minutes when the Maori ran the ball from right to left and drove full back Leon Macdonald over for a try McAlister duly converted.
From that juncture, the Lions were ordinary and lacking in any real belief that they could rescue this worrying situation. McAlister increased the Maori lead with a penalty after D'Arcy had speared Tipoki in an off the ball tackle and it was not until Brian O'Driscoll popped up with seven minutes remaining for a try that Jones improved that the Lions actually threatened the hosts' line. However, it was all too little too late and now the Lions must turn their attention to Wellington on Wednesday. This was always going to be the acid test for the Lions prior to the Test series against the All Blacks. They failed the examination and Messrs Graham Henry and Steve Hansen will be licking their lips in anticipation.
British & Irish Lions
B O'Driscoll (capt)
A Sheridan (G Jenkins 45mins)
S Thompson (S Byrne 73mins)
British & Irish Lions 13 New Zealand Maori 19
Penalties: Hill (2) Mcalister (2)
Penalties: Jones (2)