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An animated half-time speech from coach Michael Maguire kicked his team into gear as New Zealand defeated Great Britain 12-8 on Saturday (all times AEST).
A strong second half showing from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck helped spark the Kiwis and hand the Lions their second-straight loss on their southern hemisphere tour.
It was a fiery clash as tempers flared twice in the second half, first when Joe Tapine was penalised for a late tackle on James Graham before Tuivasa-Sheck was penalised for pushing John Bateman.
Corey Harawira-Naera's 54-minute try was converted by Jamayne Isaako, pushing New Zealand ahead 12-2. However, the Lions weren't done with. Interchange forward Daryl Clark charged over the line in the 68th minute followed by Gareth Widdop's conversion made it a 12-8 game.
But the Kiwis hung on in the end as they look ahead to Saturday's rematch where they could sweep the two-game series.
New Zealand and Great Britain face off again in Christchurch in a matchup that the Kiwis will go in as short-priced favourites at $1.42.
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New Zealand overcame the loss of Kieran Foran early on the weekend, who went down with a shoulder injury.
Foran dislocated his shoulder tackling Great Britain's James Graham in the sixth minute of the Eden Park clash in a cruel blow for the Kiwis.
The 29-year old left the field in pain, later returning to the sidelines with his arm tucked up inside his warm-up jacket.
He may require a second shoulder reconstruction after going under the knife during his time at the Parramatta Eels in 2016.
NRL.com reported that Bulldogs officials say that the injury is not career-ending, but the five-eighth willl travel to Sydney to undergo an MRI scan and other tests to determine the damage to tendons, ligaments and other soft tissue.
"We've worked really hard with Kieran over the last two years and we'll continue to work with him and support him," Bulldogs chief executive Andrew Hill told NRL.com.
"It won't be until sometime later this week that we'll know the full extent of the injury, but we'll be around Kieran for whatever the next steps to recovery are."
Maguire had faith that Foran could overcome his latest setback.
"It was unfortunate for Kieran but I know him well and he'll bounce back bigger and stronger. He is one resilient human being," Maguire said.
"I've seen how professional he is when he's been in camp with us. So it's tough as a coach to see a player go through this.
"I've had a long relationship with Kieran over a long period of time - he's had his ups and downs - but he was in really good form and ready to go. So it's tough for him but he'll bounce back."
Foran signed a lucrative three-year contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs from 2018 in a deal that has not yet paid dividends for the Sydney club due to his injury troubles.
He only played 14 NRL matches last season due to ankle and hamstring problems in a campaign where the Bulldogs finished 12th.
A team on the rise under the coaching of Dean Pay will look to be big improvers in 2020, but could be without Foran for part of the campaign as shoulder surgery looms.