Cautious optimism has replaced quivering fear of the All Blacks as the British media reacted to the Lions' emphatic win over New Zealand Maori.

After delivering headlines to their audiences such as "Be Afraid Lions, Be Very Afraid" after the All Blacks' 78-0 demolition of Samoa, the travelling British press were feeling better about life following the match in Rotorua.

Here's what they had to say....

Mick Cleary in the Daily Telegraph:


New Zealanders do not take much notice of the feats of opponents but this was different, this was the revered Maori All Blacks that had not just been defeated but dominated. True, with the rain teeming down, conditions suited the Lions but they played them to perfection.

Just as the Crusaders had been turned over last week by a Lions combination of forward power and unrelenting defence, so this was a victory forged deep within.

This was an emphatic win. It may not have had the freewheeling brilliance of the All Blacks victory on Friday but it was just as notable. The series is live.

Chris Foy in the Daily Mail:

This fixture took place against a backdrop of raging unrest over the choice of six reinforcements to take part in forthcoming midweek matches against the Chiefs and Hurricanes. It also took place against a backdrop of barbs and sneering jibes from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen - the latest in the aftermath of his team's 78-0 rout of Samoa in Auckland.

Hansen claimed that the Maori would 'throw the kitchen sink' at the Lions at Rotorua International Stadium. He was wrong. Instead, the home side had the sink well and truly hurled at them. This pivotal game turned on two tries by the Lions midway through the second half - both of them stemming from scrum supremacy.

How Warren Gatland will have enjoyed that spectacle and also this momentous result. After the midweek defeat against the Highlanders in Dunedin, the head coach was being besieged by doubts about his team, his tactics and his selection policy. He was openly goaded by Hansen 24 hours earlier and this was the ideal riposte.

Kiwi mind-games focus on deriding the British and Irish tendency to revert to type by relying on strong set-piece play, precise kicking and relentless defensive intensity. Yet, that approach was good enough to dispatch the Crusaders, the Super Rugby leaders, in Christchurch - and it was more than enough to put away the Maori here.

Robert Kitson in the Guardian:

Given how clinically the All Blacks took their chances against Samoa on Friday, everything has to be strictly relative. But consider this: the Crusaders and now the Maori, arguably New Zealand's two strongest teams apart from the national side, have not scored a point after half-time over the past two Saturdays. The Lions are in no danger of matching New Zealand offload for offload but they are playing increasingly effective, winning rugby regardless of overhead conditions.

Julian Bennett in the Daily Telegraph:

It was impressive, with the first choice pack showing they will give the All Blacks a real run for their money, at the very least.

There were other positives too, with Johnny Sexton's first half performance a real boost after the concerning news about Owen Farrell's fitness, but this was a win for the forwards.

The All Black pack will not be relishing the tussle up front next weekend, while their back division will be thinking they can slice through the Lions with ease. The Lions will hope for rain and a muscular game that plays to their strengths, although New Zealand will not be as accommodating as their Maori counterparts were.

This will have been confirmation for Steve Hansen, if it were needed, of how the Lions intend to play. Strong set piece, dominance up front and a strong tactical kicking game - allied to Halfpenny's dead-eye boot - is Gatland's proposed recipe for success.

The interesting question is whether it can possibly be enough against the All Blacks, who will surely be ready for exactly that gameplan. If the Lions win the series, don't expect it to be on the back of too many scores from the wings.