Lions Tour 2005: Wednesday, June 8Taranaki 14 Lions 36, Yarrow Stadium, New PlymouthScorers: Taranaki: Tries: Chris Masoe, Brendon Watt; Cons: Sam Young 2Lions: Tries: Martin Corry, Shane Horgan, Geordan Murphy 2; Cons: Charlie Hodgson 2; Pens: Hodgson 4
Murphy did his chances of a Test place no end of good as he glided over for two tries in the closing 10 minutes to rubberstamp an encouraging, if not picture-perfect, win for Ian McGeechan's mid-week Lions.
Taranaki were dogged at best, and did trouble the Lions defence in the opening period with flanker Chris Masoe's converted try handing Kieran Crowley's NPC side a 7-6 half-time lead.
Masoe, who played in the All-Blacks' trial recently, and Lifeimi Mafi operated as very effective strike runners from the off, but it was Murphy who first troubled the try-line.
Leinster's Horgan caught a great Charlie Hodgson crossfield kick on 10 minutes, and offloaded in time for Murphy to latch on and sprint over. New Zealand referee Kelvin Deaker unfortunately ruled the effort out for a forward pass.
Hodgson did open the scoring with a penalty soon after, yet on 32 minutes, the Naki were celebrating Masoe's try - a neat pick-up and drive off a close-in ruck.
Sam Young notched the conversion. A second Hodgson penalty cut the deficit to 7-6 before the break, and although the Lions were forced to defend manfully on the restart, with a Mark Stewart-led attack going close to the visitors' line, their greater class eventually told.
Leinster and Ireland winger Denis Hickie began their comeback with a fiery break on 47 minutes. With field position set near the Taranaki '22, Scotland scrum-half Chris Cusiter changed the point of attack and Hodgson sent captain Martin Corry, who kept his body brilliantly in play, in and under the challenge of Kiwi hooker Andrew Hore at the right corner.
Hore was subsequently sin-binned for a ruck offence and Taranaki's passion-filled challenge gradually waivered.
Two Hodgson penalties on 55 and 59 minutes stretched the Lions' lead to 17-7 before Horgan, put in by Murphy, rounded the posts to score on 66 minutes.
With the Lions forwards, of which Munster's Donncha O'Callaghan again impressed, keeping the ball tight, the tourists' backs were finally allowed some lattitude at the death.
A 72nd-minute dink forward from Hodgson was collected in by Horgan, and with Murphy scurrying up on the Leinster man's left shoulder, a one-handed offload saw the Leicester Tiger sprint over from 25 metres.
Murphy's second, three minutes later, saw Wales number 8 Michael Owen fire out the a long, try-scoring pass to the left, and the Irishman glided over with Taranaki's defence glued in to the initial ruck out right.
Replacement full-back Brendon Watt then grabbed a late consolation score for Taranaki, finishing a swift three-man break off at the other end.
Taranaki: Scott Ireland; Sailosi Tagicakibau, Mark Stewart, Chris Woods, Lifeimi Mafi, Sam Young; Craig Fevre, Tomasi Soqeta; Tony Penn, Andrew Hore, Gordon Slater, John Willis, Paul Tito (Capt), Scott Breman, Chris Masoe.
Replacements used: Brendon Watt for Ireland (16 mins), Mathew Harvey for Tagicakibau (41), Phil Mitchell for Soqeta (57), James King for Fevre (68), Hamish Mitchell for Penn (70). Not used: Jason Eaton, Richard Bryant.
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS:
Replacements used: Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues/Wales) for Hayes (50 mins), Shane Byrne (Leinster/Ireland) for Titterrell (67), Gareth Cooper (Newport-Gwent Dragons/Wales) for Cusiter (77). Not used: Ben Kay (Leicester/England), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle/England), Gavin Henson (The Ospreys/Wales).
Sin-bin: Andrew Hore (Taranaki) (54 mins)HT: Taranaki 7 Lions 6; Attendance: 22,000Referee: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)