WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) The British and Irish Lions frittered away a 16-point halftime lead to draw 31-31 with Super Rugby champions the Hurricanes on Tuesday in a fresh setback following their first test loss to the New Zealand All Blacks.
First-half tries to wingers Tommy Seymour, from an intercept, and George North, from a spilled high kick, gave the Lions a 23-7 lead at the break. Seymour touched down again in the second half as the Lions seemed to shut down the first signs of a Hurricanes’ rally.
Seymour’s double gave the Lions a 31-17 lead after 56 minutes but the Hurricanes wore down the tourists, who were a man short for 10 minutes after lock Iain Henderson was yellow carded in the 66th. The Hurricanes scored twice – via West Goosen and Vaea Fifita – in that time to level the score.
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Head coach Warren Gatland called on the second-string players to help the Lions quickly regroup following Saturday’s 30-15 loss to New Zealand and for long periods they answered his call with a physical and enterprising display. Three tries to wingers reflected more clinical finishing by the Lions.
The forwards also deprived the dangerous Hurricanes’ backline of all but a few scraps of possession in the first half but they tired as the New Zealanders rallied.
”It’s disappointing because we were in so much control,” Gatland said. ”We went from that period where we had 68 percent of territory and possession to 25 percent and that was a massive swing in the game.”
The Lions opened a 13-0 lead after 22 minutes from two penalties from Dan Biggar and Seymor finishing off a long-range try.
The Hurricanes, still operating from fragments of possession, finally won an attacking penalty in the 29th minute and, after a quick tap and ruck, Brad Shields handed off to flanker Callum Gibbins who dived low through the defense to score.
Biggar put the Lions ahead 16-7 with a penalty in the 32nd minute and North made the lead 23-7 four minutes later with another try which rewarded the tourists’ ability to chase and create pressure from their own kicks.
To stay in the game the Hurricanes had to score first after halftime and they did, brilliantly, after only two minutes through All Black Leaumape. After Brad Shield’s punching run on the left the Hurricanes moved the ball cross-field and center Vince Aso put winger Julian Savea into a gap. The giant All Blacks wing ran strongly then passed to Leaumape, who bulldozed through Biggar to score. Jordie Barrett converted from the sideline and, after missing one penalty, landed another to cut the lead to six points.
Biggar quickly restored a nine-point margin with his sixth goal in the 52nd minute and Henderson was held up under the posts shortly afterwards. From an ensuing penalty, the Lions moved the ball quickly through midfield and Seymour got outside his marker to score in the left corner.
North should also have had a double but he stepped into touch with the tryline open in the 63rd minute.
Henderson’s strong game was marred three minutes later when he was sin-binned for a spear tackle on Barrett. From the ensuing penalty the Hurricanes won quick lineout ball, Leaumape ran at the defense and a long pass from Barrett created a try for replacement Goosen.
Fifita then hurled himself over a ruck under the Lions’ goalposts in the 70th minute and scored the try, converted by Barrett, which tied the score in the last mid-week game of the 10-match tour.