The first of the 10 fixtures on this tour was expected to be pretty straightforward, against a side made up of those considered as fringe players from Super Rugby. It didn’t really turn out that way.
The Lions did manage to avoid the ignominy of a defeat, but it was a close-run thing against what is a scratch side. The Barbarians captain, hooker and try-scorer, Sam Anderson-Heather, will clock on for work in Dunedin on Monday morning where he is a property maintenance engineer by trade.
The Barbarians actually led 7-3 at half-time thanks to the Sam Anderson-Heather’s try, but the Lions scraped home thanks to a late Anthony Watson score initiated by Owen Farrell.
The Lions will now move swiftly from Whangarei to face Super Rugby outfit the Blues in Auckland on Wednesday night.
Boss Gatland will not be diverted from his plan and insisted he will stick to fielding an entirely different starting XV at Eden Park. Asked how many changes he would make he said, “Fifteen. The plan is everyone gets a start in the first three games, and I’ve been continually saying that.”