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Friday, 14 December, 2018

The teams who are looking to tame the Lions

Team-by-team guide to the host sides

Lions captain Sam Warburton is greeted on arrival in New Zealand
1 of 1

Saturday, June 3
T: Watson C: Farrell P: Sexton, Laidlaw
-35 13
T: Anderson-Heather C: Gatland
Half-time: 7-3

Venue: Toll Stadium, Whangarei
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

The Lions' weakest opponents on this tour provided obdurate opposition against a rusty and sluggish Lions side who never got into gear. 

The Provincial Barbarians dominated the early exchanges, with all the territory and possession in the first half and deservedly took the lead. The Lions incurred a few boos from the crowd for going for goal with two early penalties, the first of which was missed by Jonathan Sexton, but opted for a scrum in front of the posts when the hosts were penalised in the dying seconds of the half and were then held up.

The Lions were much brighter and more direct in the second half and Anthony Watson scored the decisive try, but they were unable to build on that and struggled for energy to stamp their authority on a buoyant home team.

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton had a poor game and the Lions were noticeably more effective when Owen Farrell replaced him with just over half an hour to go.

Wednesday, June 7
T: R Ioane, Williams, West C: Perofeta, West P: West
T: Stander C: Halfpenny P: Halfpenny 3
Half-time 12-10

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

The Lions' first proper test ended in defeat in a match that highlighted the contrast between New Zealand and northern hemisphere rugby.

The Lions were on top physically, dominated the set-piece and worked their way back from a 15-10 deficit to lead 16-10 with ten minutes to go thanks to the strength of their forwards winning penalties.

But the Blues had all the X-factor, outscoring the Lions three tries to one - the first well-worked, the second perhaps fortunate, the third - and winning - score absolutely brilliant.

Penetration and ideas were lacking for the Lions, who scored their only try from a line-out catch and drive.

Saturday, June 10
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)

Super Rugby record (1st):
P14 W14 L0 D0

Pts for 522 Pts against 272
Tries for 74 Tries against 33
Try bonus 7 Losing bonus 0 Points 63

This match has been dubbed the first Test, against a Crusaders outfit packed with internationals and who are top of the Super Rugby standings with a perfect record of 13 wins from 13. They are the most successful side in Super Rugby with seven titles, although the most recent was in 2008.

They are captained by All Blacks skipper Kieran Read, who is in a race to be fit for the first Test after breaking his thumb, and coached by Scott Robertson, who won 23 caps for the All Blacks and took over at the end of last season after Todd Blackadder left for Bath.

A powerful scrum is driven by All Black props Joe Moody and Owen Franks, with skipper Sam Whitelock in the second row, and the back line features fellow New Zealand internationals Ryan Crotty and Israel Dagg as well as Wallabies winger Digby Ioane. Full-back David Havili is their top scorer this season with eight tries. Winger George Bridge has seven.

Tuesday, June 13
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Angus Garder (Australia)

Super Rugby record (5th):
P14 W10 L4 D0

Points for 448 Points against 291
Tries for 56 Tries against 37
Try bonus 4 Losing bonus 2 Points 46

Super Rugby champions in 2015, the Highlanders got off to a slow start this year with three defeats in their first four - all against fellow New Zealand sides - but they then won nine on the spin before being edged 25-22 thanks to a late drop goal from the table-topping Crusaders in round 15.

Their pack contains a few players with a single-figure haul of international caps but the backline includes All-Black scrum-half Aaron Smith, centre Malakai Fekitoa, winger Waisake Naholo and full-back Ben Smith, as well as emerging fly-half Lima Sopoaga. Felitao and Naholo top the team’s scoring charts with six tries this season along with Matt Faddes. They play under a fixed roof at the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Saturday, June 17
Venue: Rotorua International Stadium
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

The Maori All Blacks, a representative side formed in 1888, were the first to wear the all-black strip and perform the haka, and the selection rule that players must be able to prove Maori ancestry - known as whakapapa - is now strictly enforced.

Most recent matches were in the northern hemisphere last November when they beat the United States 54-7 in Chicago and Harlequins 26-10 at the Stoop but lost 27-14 to Munster.

They famously beat the Lions 19-13 in 2005, and lost narrowly 24-20 to the 1993 tourists. Current All Blacks squad members Aaron Smith and Dane Coles have represented the Maori.

Tuesday, June 20
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

Super Rugby record (4th):
P13 W10 L2 D1

Points for 388 Points against 268
Tries for 50 Tries against 27
Try bonus 6 Losing bonus 1 Points 49

Super Rugby champions in 2012 and 2013 and losing semi-finalists last season, the Chiefs’ only two defeats this season have come to the Stormers in Cape Town and the all-conquering Crusaders in a match played in Fiji.

Their most-capped All Blacks are fly-half Aaron Cruden and lock Brodie Retallick, while flanker Michael Leitch is captain of Japan with 47 caps and led them to their famous Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa in 2015.

Winger James Lowe, who will join Leinster at the end of this Super Rugby campaign, is their top tryscorer with seven.

Saturday, June 24
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

The number one team in the world and two-time Rugby World Cup winners. Since losing to England at Twickenham at the end of 2012 New Zealand have lost precisely three of 54 Test matches - to South Africa in Johannesburg, Australia in Sydney and most famously to Ireland last autumn in Chicago.

They have won their last 36 matches at Eden Park, a run that goes back to 1995, and head coach Steve Hansen reckons the current squad is his strongest ever.

Tuesday, June 27
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Super Rugby record (3rd):
P13 W11 L2 D0

Points for 551 Points against 233
Tries for 83 Tries against 26
Try bonus 9 Losing bonus 0 Points: 53

Reigning Super Rugby champions and the highest scorers in the current campaign, they have scored an average of six tries a game and the points make-up has weighed in at more than 60 per match.

Their firepower is legendary - the entire three-quarter line of the All Blacks team that started the 2015 Rugby World Cup final was made up of Hurricanes players, and wingers Julian Savea (top scorer at that tournament) and Nehe Milner-Skudder are still on the books, along with 53-cap full-back Cory Jane.

There’s also an international half-back pairing of TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett. Vince Aso (13 tries) and Ngani Lauampe (12) are the top two tryscorers in Super Rugby this year.

Saturday, July 1
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

Saturday, July 8
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Since losing to England at Twickenham at the end of 2012 New Zealand have lost precisely three of 54 Test matches
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