June 16, 2017 / 9:52 AM / in 4 months

All Blacks issue Lions warning with Samoa rout

AUCKLAND (Reuters) - A sweeping 95-metre counter-attack try for Beauden Barrett broke the shackles as New Zealand romped to a 12-try, 78-0 victory against Samoa at Eden Park on Friday, sending a message to the British and Irish Lions of what to expect in eight days’ time.

Barrett’s try, sparked after captain Ben Smith had pounced on a dropped ball on his line, was the catalyst for the world champions to take control of the game after about 30 minutes.

Barrett grabbed a second try in the second half while Anton Lienert-Brown, Ardie Savea (2), Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Dagg, Julian Savea, Codie Taylor, Vaea Fifita, TJ Perenara and Sam Cane all crossed for the All Blacks.

Barrett slotted seven conversions, while replacement flyhalf Lima Sopoaga also kicked two conversions for the home side, but had his own try ruled out in the final minute for a forward pass.

The seventh test between the sides had been organised to help the All Blacks prepare for the British and Irish Lions series. The first test will be on June 24 at the same venue and coach Steve Hansen had said that he wants to see the side begin to gel their combinations before the Lions series.

“It was a pretty good start but still got a bit to do,” Hansen told reporters. “We did a lot of things well but it’s just a start. This team will have to be way better in everything we do if we are going to compete with the Lions.”

It was the All Blacks’ ability to turn defence into attack and the execution of their set piece that stood out. That should be a warning to Lions coach Warren Gatland, whose team has failed to convert numerous opportunities on tour.

The All Blacks also provided some stiff goal-line defence in the first half, which led to Barrett’s first try when Samoa centre Kieron Fonotia dropped the ball and the home side pounced to sweep down field.

After taking a 28-0 lead into the interval, Dagg crossed just 90 seconds after the restart when the All Blacks turned the ball over on halfway and Lienert-Brown committed three defenders to give the winger a clear run to the line.

That try effectively ended Samoa’s resistance and the home side ran riot in the second half, scoring virtually at will before Hansen emptied the bench, giving Fifita and Jordie Barrett their test debuts.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien/Mark Heinrich

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