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Blues shock limp Lions in rugby

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/06/2017 Angelo Risso

A stunning Ihaia West try with just six minutes left on the clock has condemned the British and Irish Lions to their first defeat on New Zealand soil in 2017, going down 22-16 to the Blues at Eden Park.

Down 16-15 with the seconds ticking away, Sonny Bill Williams made 30 metres after breaking the Lions' defensive line and produced a trademark flick offload to West, who scooted around Leigh Halfpenny to secure the winner.

The Lions, despite promising a more attacking style after their grim showing on Saturday against the provincial Barbarians, again looked listless in attack and managed just the single try - and that, via loose forward CJ Stander, was on the back of a driving maul.

The performance will again raise questions about their competitiveness on Kiwi soil, having fallen to the weakest side in the NZ Super Rugby conference this year.

Saturday's clash with the undefeated Crusaders - on top of the Kiwi conference - will be even more difficult, as their three-Test series draws nearer.

Prior to West's 74th-minute effort, it had appeared the unerring boot of Welsh fullback Halfpenny - so crucial to their series victory in Australia in 2013 - had secured the Lions a win they scarcely deserved with a trio of three-pointers.

The Blues were also imperfect, with a nervous Stephen Perofeta making his starting debut at first-five on the biggest stage, but played more adventurously than their opponents and picked up the first try through Rieko Ioane in the seventh minute.

True to form, the Lions used their brawn to get back in the hunt via Stander, before the bruising Williams scored a lucky try on the half-time hooter.

With the last play of the half, a Perofeta penalty goal struck the upright and bounced back for Test midfielder Williams to plant down.

The second half followed in a similar vein, with reserve playmaker West kicking a penalty goal before Lions winger Liam Williams' sin-binning for tackling in the air.

The Blues couldn't take advantage of their extra man, and fell behind to two second-half Halfpenny penalties, which followed one first-half effort - only for West to pop up with the winner and send long-suffering Blues fans into delirium.

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