The Lions dominated in the opening five minutes but it was the Blues who struck first with a try from Rieko Ioane.

Ulster’s Jared Payne went close soon after but his finish in the corner was ruled out as his foot had gone into touch before he dotted down.

Just before the 20-minute mark the Lions’ got their first try through Munster’s CJ Stander off the back of a powerful maul – Leigh Halfpenny adding the extras to give the Lions a 5-7 lead.

Halfpenny kicked a penalty a few minutes later to extend the Lions’ lead further, but the Blues would finish the half the stronger.

With the clock gone red the Super Rugby side were awarded a penalty. Stephen Perofeta’s effort struck the left upright, bounced into the air and was knocked into the Lions in-goal area where Sonny Bill Williams got a hand on the ball to give his side a 12-10 lead at the break.

There was a scare for the Lions at the start of the second half as it looked as though Ioane had scored his second, but his foot was in touch.

The momentum was with the Blues, Ihaia West kicking a penalty in the 53rd-minute to extend the lead to five.

Robbie Henshaw

Warren Gatland then began to empty the bench – Peter O’Mahony, Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler all coming on in place of James Haskell, Jack McGrath and Dan Cole.

But before those replacements could make their mark on the game the Lions were reduced to 14 men when Scarlets’ Liam Williams was yellow carded for tackling a man in the air.

In the final 20 minutes Halfpenny kicked a pair of penalties to give the Lions a one-point lead, but the Blues saved their best until last with West running over after some clever offloads from Steven Luatua and Sonny Bill Williams.

There was a late opportunity from a lineout in Blues territory but the chance was wasted and the Super Rugby side secured the win.

The Lions next game is against the Canterbury Crusaders on Saturday in Christchurch (KO 8.35am Irish time).

Lions fixtures & results

13-7 win v NZ Provincial Barbarians, Toll Stadium, Whangarei (Saturday, 3rd June, KO 8.35am Irish/7.35pm New Zealand)

22-16 defeat v Auckland Blues, Eden Park, Auckland (Wednesday, 7th June, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v Crusaders, AMI Stadium, Christchurch (Saturday, 10th June, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v Highlanders, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin (Tuesday, 13th June, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v Maori All Blacks, Rotorua International Stadium (Saturday, 17th June, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v Chiefs, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton (Tuesday, 20th June, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v All Blacks, Eden Park, Auckland (Saturday, 24th June, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v Hurricanes, Westpac Stadium, Wellington (Tuesday, 27th June, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v All Blacks, Westpac Stadium, Wellington (Saturday, 1st July, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

v All Blacks, Eden Park, Auckland (Saturday, 8th July, KO 8.35am/7.35pm)

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