There were only answers for the Lions in Christchurch. They came to Dunedin and only found problems. Lots of them.

Their scrum was the biggest one. It got humped. Properly, seriously crushed. It was like an old banger at the scrapyard meeting the big heavy bit of machinery that leaves the car capable of fitting into a matchbox.

In the end it was the scrum where the game swung. The Highlanders managed to win a few penalties on the back of their power there, kick and lineout drive.

It was a huge scrum that won the final penalty - a kick that Marty Banks, arguably New Zealand's most under appreciated player, was never going to miss.


There was something wrong with that picture - the Highlanders scrummaging for penalties, scoring a driving maul try through Liam Coltman and winning it with a goalkick.

No one saw that coming. Maybe not even the Highlanders, who do love surprising people, thought they would be so dominant.

England's Dan Cole came on for the final quarter to stiffen the scrum. But the much vaunted Englishman, who is rated as one of the best scrummaging tightheads in European rugby, had his head stuffed between his legs by a Highlanders frontrow who most people outside of Dunedin would be honest enough to say they hadn't really heard of before the game.

It didn't look quite right either that the Highlanders forwards were so regularly able to keep the Lions off the deck at the collision. It caught the Lions out - they didn't realise that players such as Jackson Hemopo would be so strong, so good at getting underneath them at the tackle and holding them up to win the maul.

But that's what happened and if that wasn't a big enough worry for the Lions, their lack of precision when it came to the micro skills will really be bothering them.

They scored three tries which was a plus. They saw the space better, found it more often in the first half and had a little bit more accuracy in the first 50 minutes than they had on the rest of the tour.

The last 30 minutes, however, they fell apart. They failed to nail the big moments. Their skills under pressure were poor.

They didn't deal with the high ball or the Highlanders kicking game. They didn't make the passes stick. They didn't keep their discipline. They didn't look like they really believed in themselves and they slithered out the game - like a snake that realises the prey it has targeted is just too big to be taken.


"I think the guys are disappointed they put themselves into a position to win it and we probably shot ourselves in the foot didn't we with some turnovers and penalties late in the game," said Lions coach Warren Gatland.

"There are some key moments we need to learn from. The big lesson is that New Zealand sides play for 80 minutes and they keep going. The Highlanders with their kicking strategy stressed at. They had a lot of success with their kicking strategy.

"Eight or nine penalties in that last 10 or so minutes that really hurt us and we have to make sure we are better in those moments because that is difference between winning and losing games."