Lions Labour To Beat Barbarians In Tour Opener

Warren Gatland

GETTY Lions tour 2017 Warren Gatland's side are ready for action

The British and Irish Lions made a winning if unconvincing start to their Tour of New Zealand with a 13-7 victory over the Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei.

Gatland is determined to give every player at least one start over the course of the first three matches to show what they can do, with the New Zealander admitting the need to keep harmony among the squad took preference over gelling his Test side early on.

KEN Owens will captain the British and Irish Lions in Wednesday's clash with the Blues at Eden Park.

With Bryn Gatland (son of Warren) pulling the strings at outside-half for the Barbarians, the Lions never truly settled and even Watson's try, a score that pulled them clear, wasn't enough to calm their edginess, with the Barbarians looking the more likely to snatch a win at the end.

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Replacements: 16-Rory Best, 17-Joe Marler, 18-Kyle Sinckler, 19-Iain Henderson, 20-Peter O'Mahony, 21-Greig Laidlaw, 22-Jonathan Sexton, 23-Liam Williams.

"I kind of look and say: 'Did that start when we were successful at Wasps, or was that when I was coaching Waikato to the Air New Zealand Cup, or when did a certain style change?'" He has captained the Scarlets and has assumed a leadership role within the camp and it is a great opportunity for him.

Gatland has already said all 41 members of the squad will get a chance to play in the opening three games but on Saturday several players failed to make the most of their opportunity, notably Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton. The 31-year-old, who was withdrawn eight minutes into the second half in favour of Owen Farrell, endured a hard night and is far from certain of starting the test against New Zealand with Gatland seeming determined to play Farrell at 10.

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"It was good to get the win under our belts last weekend", Gatland added.

On this team, only Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Dan Cole and Justin Tipuric have played for the Lions before.

Warren Gatland has named Ken Owens as captain, starting in the front row between Jack McGrath and Dan Cole.

"These guys arrived on Wednesday and are still recovering from travel, they haven't got into regular sleep patterns yet".

The Lions move quickly onwards to face Blues in Auckland on Wednesday, and will know full well they must improve out of sight to cope with full-strength Super Rugby sides - let alone the back-to-back world champion All Blacks.

We had a group of players who came through Wales at the time who ended up being pretty big, physical players.

"A few years ago Brian Smith coined the phrase Warrenball and I don't know if that was because he was jealous because of how much success we had.I don't know".

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