Media mock Lions opening effort in New Zealand

Coach Warren Gatland right captain Sam Warburton (Getty)
Coach Warren Gatland right captain Sam Warburton (Getty)

Whangarei - The British and Irish Lions copped strident flak for their unconvincing 13-7 win over a Provincial Barbarians side in their New Zealand tour opener in Whangarei on Saturday.

"Lions just avoid embarrassing loss" and "Lions performance a damp squib," blared headlines on the New Zealand Herald website.

Fairfax Media were equally critical describing the Lions as "poor" and "unconvincing".

In Britain, the BBC warned if the Lions don't improve they may not win another game.

Lions coach Warren Gatland arrived in New Zealand with a 41-man squad representing the cream of rugby talent in Britain and Ireland.

Their declared intention was to be only the second Lions side to win a series in New Zealand.

But they did not look like Test winners as they trailed 7-3 at halftime against the Barbarians, a team of mainly amateur and unknown players.

After working their way to a 13-7 lead the Lions camped deep in their own territory desperately defending the slender lead when the final whistle went.

"The worry for Gatland is this will be the weakest side they face in terms of player quality in their 10 matches, and the Lions' collective body language already does not look good," Liam Napier wrote on the Fairfax website.

In the Herald, Gregor Paul wrote: "The Lions got their heavily predicted opening game victory but it was one that saw them reach unimaginable levels of mediocrity."

Television New Zealand called the Lions "uninspiring" and the British Broadcasting Corporation was equally unimpressed.

"Play like that from now on and the Lions probably won't win another match in New Zealand," the BBC said.

The Guardian said it was an "undistinguished" victory by a team of professionals against "a bunch of part-timers whose ranks included a sheep farmer, a shopkeeper, a nurse and a fruit-picker".

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