OUTPLAYED: Lions (red) got whipped by Blues

But the experience is only going to improve the tourists’ chances in the three-match Test series, according to coach Warren Gatland.

Ihaia West scooted away for a 75th minute try after two brilliant offloads by Steven Luatua and Sonny Bill Williams to give the Blues the victory at Eden Park.

Having lost their first match on tour, Gatland says: “It was just one moment of magic where Ihaia West scored and that shows how dangerous New Zealand can be.

“Credit to West for his try but we have got to get better at stopping the offloading game.”

The loss follows a stuttering 13-7 victory in the tourists’ opener against a Provincial Barbarians team composed of semi-professional and amateur players in Whangarei last Saturday, and both Gatland and the side have been heavily criticised for that performance.

Yesterday they did enough to win the game and showed a marked improvement with more patience and control, a fast defensive line that cut down the Blues’ space and better tactical kicking as the game went on.

And Gatland adds: “There was definitely a step up.

“There were some momentum shifts in the game [and]... the most disappointing thing for me was the amount of penalties we gave away, particularly when we were on attack.”