Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Ulster trio included in British Lions starting team to face Highlanders

Ulster trio included in British Lions starting team to face Highlanders

'I don't think it's a pressure situation, it's a group that needs to keep on building and the message to the boys this morning about Tuesday is we're building our plan, the things that we do behind the scenes as well as what we do on the pitch.

"I think Warren Gatland will still want to see Farrell at 10 and Taylor at 12, with Jonathan Davies at 13 - probably in the two games leading up to that first test". "But the games come around pretty quickly, Highlanders on Tuesday and the Maori All Blacks next week".

Crusaders boss Robertson hailed the Lions' grit but insisted the All Blacks will still know what to expect from Gatland's side. The bench looks like their lot but there are still three tough games to negotiate before a fired up All Blacks team get their first pop at the tourists.

Owen Farrell booted all the points as the Lions inflicted the Crusaders' first defeat this season, restricting a side boasting an average 37 points per match down to just a solitary penalty. "I was pleased with that and we will continue to do that".

Sam Warburton suffered an ankle injury in the tour-opening win over the Barbarians
GETTYSam Warburton suffered an ankle injury in the tour-opening win over the Barbarians

And Murray admitted the Lions laid down a marker in dominating the much-vaunted pack of the runaway Super Rugby leaders.

In the second half, Liam Williams dropped a hard pass metres short of the corner post and was also guilty, along with CJ Stander, of knocking the ball on when the Crusaders were in disarray.

"We've got some good wingers who can get after the ball and tonight, even though it was dry, it was greasy so to play in the right part of the field was crucial", he said. But on Saturday Canterbury hardly threw one cut-out pass, and in the end they were forced to play the way the Lions wanted.

In halves Farrell and Conor Murray, Gatland had stand-out performers at the top of their game.

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The England prop produced one of many stellar performances as Warren Gatland's men ignited their New Zealand tour with a win of real substance in Christchurch. I definitely admit that and I knew that coming into the tour.

Highlanders will be missing All Blacks Ben Smith and Aaron Smith for the clash, but New Zealand worldwide trio Malakai Fekitoa, Waisake Naholo and Lima Sopoaga will get a look at the Lions.

But Gatland has Warburton back, having recovered from an ankle niggle to join former Highlander James Haskell and CJ Stander in the loose forwards.

"It's a nice luxury for the coaches and great competition for us as players".

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Farrell also spoke of the components that helped get the Lions over the line in Christchurch.

"When I play well and I am match fit, I am aggressive in the tackle, and I'll contribute handful of good carries", Warburton said. We haven't seen a whole lot of turnovers. You've got to be able to do everything, but you've got to bring a specialist element and I guess my one specialist element is the contact area.

There will be concern over the fitness of Welsh centre Davies and Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg, who both failed to return after first-half exits to undergo concussion testing.

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