Lions give Gatland food for thought

2:23 PM BST

HAMILTON, New Zealand — The British & Irish Lions coaches will meet on Wednesday to finalise the team for Saturday’s first Test with Warren Gatland predicting a “tough” selection meeting after a number of players impressed in their win over the Chiefs on Tuesday.

The Lions scored four tries in total as combinations clicked and passes stuck. They also managed to hold out the Chiefs and a host of players put in 80-minute shifts with Gatland making just one substitution during the match, outside of a Head Injury Assessment and Joe Marler’s sin-bin.

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Gatland has said all along he wants to protect the Test team which led him to bring six new players into camp this week, but there are still places for grabs with Courtney Lawes, Dan Cole, Dan Biggar, Elliot Daly, Jack Nowell and Liam Williams all excelling.

With a number of names already inked in, the back three will cause Gatland a headache. Daly has a chance of gatecrashing the matchday squad as he was replaced after 60 minutes. When asked if that was a decision to protect him for Saturday, Gatland replied: “possibly”.

“For someone like Jack Nowell, it just hadn’t happened for him in the first couple of games,” Gatland said. “He is a player who is prolific in terms of getting his hands on the ball. He showed that when he scored his tries.

“I was pleased to see him play well and I thought Elliot looked sharp and Liam. It was a combination that looked pretty dangerous and pretty potent.

“There were a few times in the first half when we were a little bit lateral with the ball, but we were much better in the second half. We showed nice things out there and scored some great tries.”

Daly played for an hour in Hamilton before being replaced, providing a fine pass in the build-up to Jack Nowell’s second try.┬áDavid Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Gatland is predicting “lively debate” in the meeting on Wednesday with the coaches “collectively agreeing” on the Test side.

“We are pretty happy with where we are at the moment,” Gatland said. “The selection meeting will be tough and that’s the way we want it. Guys put up their hands tonight and there will be some healthy debate.

“We spoke about the quality of the squad before we left and the players haven’t disappointed us.”

The squad travelled to Auckland straight after the game on Tuesday and will turn full focus to the first Test. The Lions will announce the team on Thursday morning, local time, with the tourists continuing to improve game-on-game and buoyed by their impressive win over the Chiefs.

“It takes a bit of time when you are putting combinations together and guys getting used to each other’s voices,” Gatland said. “The one that Jared Payne scored was an outstanding try. We are creating them and now we are starting to finish them.

“From a defensive point of view, we are getting stronger and stronger. We are playing against teams that have scored multiple tries week-in, week-out and we are strangling them a little bit.

“But on Saturday we are up against the best team in world in their own back yard where they haven’t lost since 1994. It’s going a big test for us.”

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