The game had been spiced up by the Lions' decision to cancel various community visits whilst here in Dunedin. Their actions had caused much disappointment and anger amongst the locals, many of whom were not informed of the changes until the eleventh hour. So, with fire in their bellies and with such a tradition of playing against the celebrated tourists, Otago were up for the challenge of emulating the feat of the Maori seven days earlier.
The Lions made a sharp start with Shane Williams and namesake Martyn to the fore inside ninety seconds as the home province found themselves on the back foot. However, with yet another New Zealand official, this time Lyndon Bray, appearing to ignore the fact that the entire Otago back row was offside at each breakdown, the hosts were allowed to fringe, pinch the ball and set up their own attack from which Nick Evans was awarded a penalty in front of the posts. The outside-half duly converted and the Lions were behind.
Evans should have improved that advantage with a second penalty after Bray, once again, took his chance to penalise the Lions at the breakdown. This time it was Martyn Williams who was apparently caught on the wrong side, although fortunately Evans struck an upright with his kick and Will Greenwood cleared. Jones was next in the dock for a head high tackle which gave Evans his third opportunity. After a warning for Jones, clearly unwarranted once again, the Otago pivot duly converted. Charlie Hodgson halved the deficit from 35 metres and five minutes later levelled the scores at 6-6 with his second kick of the night.
After a somewhat slow start, the Lions had finally found their feet, both at the set piece and especially at the breakdown where Williams and Jones were outstanding. Unfortunately it took just one missed tackle, from Denis Hickie, to allow Otago in for a try on thirty-five minutes. Neil Brew evaded Hickie's poor attempt on half way and after Hodgson failed to hold up the centre on his own 22, Danny Lee was on hand to cross.
Evans converted to rub salt into the wound and the Lions were behind once more, but on the stroke of half time, the Lions were back in it when Hodgson deceived everyone by taking a quick penalty near the left touchline and sending a cross field kick towards Greenwood on the opposite flank. The ball bounced up in the in-goal area, Greenwood collected and touched down for Hodgson to convert.
A high tackle from Martyn Williams gave Evans the opportunity to redress the balance and his fourth successful kick of the night, four minutes in to the second half gave Otago the lead at 16-13. The Lions scrum started to make hay from the fiftieth minute on and although Otago scrambled well in defence, primarily from offside positions around the base of the ruck, they could do little to prevent Jones capping his Lions debut with a try after a wonderful step and flat pass from Shane Williams. Hodgson's conversion gave the Lions a four-point lead and slowly but surely Otago were beginning to feel the heat. Twelve Super 12 Highlanders they might have had, but the Lions were beginning to turn the screw.
Referee Bray brought Otago back into it when he ignored a blatant knock on from Filipo Levi before subsequently penalising Gordon Bulloch for picking up the loose ball from an offside position. Evans stepped up to bring Otago to within a point at 20-19, but Hodgson replied a minute later to restore the four-point advantage. A wonderful handling movement eleven minutes from time, after an initial break from Jones, enabled Shane Williams to nip around the cover for his try and Hodgson's conversion put the issue beyond doubt.
British & Irish Lions 30 Otago 19
Penalties: Evans (4)
Tries: Greenwood, Jones, S Williams
Conversions: Hodgson (3)
Penalties: Hodgson (3)
British and Irish Lions
G D'Arcy (O Smith 53mins)
C Hodgson (R O'Gara 70mins)
C Cusiter (M Dawson 60mins)
G Rowntree (A Sheridan 60mins)
G Bulloch (capt. S Thompson 60mins)
S Shaw (D Grewcock 60mins)
R Jones (M Owen 76mins)
N Brew (J Shoemark 47mins)
D Lee (C Smylie 75mins)
J Macdonald (J Vercoe 60mins)
C Newby (capt)