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The British & Irish Lions have proven too strong for the Gallagher Chiefs, running away with a 34-6 win in an historic first ever meeting between the two sides at FMG Stadium Waikato.

With several All Blacks and other front line players unavailable, the Gallagher Chiefs depth was tested and, although able to match the Lions for large parts of a physical match, some of their best running rugby on the tour so far saw the Lions push on to claim an impressive victory.

The momentous occasion, in front of a whopping crowd of 29,974, was proceeded by the Gallagher Chiefs haka which kicked the already electric atmosphere up another gear and set the scene for a wonderful sporting occasion.

Early signs were good from the home side with captain Stephen Donald producing some long and accurate kicks for good field position. But errors at lineout time, which would prove to be a theme throughout the evening, cost the Gallagher Chiefs the chance to open the scoring.

The Lions responded with a strong period on attack but some aggressive defence from a fired up Gallagher Chiefs unit put a stop to that, with a penalty from Welsh first five Dan Biggar the only scoring in the opening 10 minutes.

A late shoulder charge from Lions prop Joe Marler then resulted in a yellow card but the Gallagher Chiefs were unable to take advantage, with the Lions working downfield and coming away with a second Biggar penalty.

At the 20-minute mark the Gallagher Chiefs finally got themselves on the scoreboard with Donald’s first shot at goal a successful penalty from right in front of the posts.

It didn’t take long for the Lions to reassert their dominance as a patient build up saw them eventually crack the Gallagher Chiefs defence with wing Jack Nowell jumping over a ruck close to the line for the first try.

Biggar added the extras to push the advantage out to 13-3, with the Lions continuing to threaten following the Nowell try, even turning down a shot at goal to go for more points, but this time the Gallagher Chiefs defence was up the task.

Towards the end of the first half a late flurry of attack from the Gallagher Chiefs was rewarded with a second Donald penalty, and the hosts would have been happy to head into the break trailing by just seven.

The Gallagher Chiefs came out from the halftime break fired up and enjoyed the better of the first 10 minutes with some more big hits on defence and breaks up field getting the home crowd excited.

Eventually the big Lions forwards rumbled their way back towards the Gallagher Chiefs line and, despite more good defence stopping wave after wave of attack, referee Jerome Garces finally lost his patience and awarded a penalty try and a yellow card to loose forward Mitchell Brown.

A strong period from the Gallagher Chiefs then ended in a try at the other end to effectively finish off the contest. It was another poor lineout which cost the Gallagher Chiefs, as the tourists snaffled possession and went the length of the field with Nowell finishing off for his second and arguably the Lions’ best try of the tour.

Looking to work their way back into the contest, the Gallagher Chiefs threw caution to the wind as they looked to attack from their own 22 but a kick return from near halfway ended in nicely worked try to centre Jared Payne. Biggar maintained his perfect record off the tee to blow the lead out to 34-6 with still quarter of an hour to play.

To their credit the Gallagher Chiefs kept fighting, and some fresh legs off the bench gave some brief moments of attacking brilliance, but they were unable to break down the Lions defence as the visitors came away from their trip to Hamilton with a convincing win.

Gallagher Chiefs 6 (Stephen Donald 2 pens) British & Irish Lions 34 (Jack Nowell 2, Jared Payne tries, penalty try; Dan Biggar 3 cons, 2 pens) HT: 6-13.

The Gallagher Chiefs now shift their focus to the remainder of the Super Rugby season which is set to resume after international break on Saturday 15 July with a home game against the Brumbies at FMG Stadium Waikato (kick off 5.15pm).

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