Slowly but surely the Lions are gathering momentum on the highways and byways of the North Island. For the second successive game the tourists had to negotiate some hairy spells but ultimately cruised to a satisfying four-try win which provides a timely injection of confidence before Saturday's encounter with the New Zealand Maori in Hamilton.
At half-time, when they were trailing 7-6 and looking in some discomfort up front, the Lions would certainly have settled for a 22-point victory. If it helped that Taranaki were knackered by the final quarter, the home side's spirit was also undermined by solid defence and a performance of such rigid discipline that the Lions conceded only four penalties in the whole game and none at all in the second half.
No one is pretending Taranaki are anything other than a limited provincial side who, beyond their front row and their excellent open-side flanker and recent All Black trialist Chris Masoe, proved much less potent opponents than Bay of Plenty last weekend. On the other hand, these Lions are starting to make a habit of winning these games despite playing only in fits and starts. If nothing else, they also give the appearance of being quick learners when necessary.
Aside from the fly-half Charlie Hodgson, flanker and captain Martin Corry and No8 Michael Owen - the three most visibly influential Lions - significant contributions were made by the full-back Geordan Murphy, scrum-half Chris Cusiter and, when he came on as a replacement, the prop Gethin Jenkins. The unfortunate John Hayes endured a torrid time against Tony Penn but the tide turned after Jenkins came on.
Cusiter, apart from one shocker of a pass which sailed over all his colleagues and the dead-ball line and led directly to Taranaki's first try, by Masoe, left a favourable impression, as did Murphy, who scored two tries and had a third disallowed for a forward pass.
It was, all things considered, a valuable work-out on a rare dry night in the dairy farming heartland of New Zealand. This lush part of the country has produced two of the finest All Blacks of the past 30 years in Dave Loveridge and Graham Mourie, and the locals know a decent-looking side when they see one.
"The Lions have probably got a little way to go but they're probably not showing all their wares as yet," muttered Gordon Slater, the durable prop who also played against the last Lions team to visit here, in 1993.
The sight of Jonny Wilkinson sitting unused on the bench for the entire game rammed home precisely that point but it is a fitting tribute to Hodgson's excellence that England's record points-scorer could not possibly have outdone his compatriot on the night. Even when Taranaki were tearing into the Lions early on Hodgson exuded a sense of calm absent during the Six Nations Championship, kicking and passing with the confidence of a man with nothing to lose.
One pinpoint early punt down the line which bounced into touch was a truly remarkable piece of marksmanship and the first of several cross-kicks to Shane Horgan's wing would have created an excellent try had it not been disallowed for what appeared a fractional forward pass. Not that the Lions were totally hard done by, the lock Danny Grewcock escaping censure after a flare-up with the combustible, flame-haired home captain Paul Tito. "It was pretty lighthearted; he got a few in, I didn't get so many in," chuckled Tito later.
There was also a touch of fortune about Corry's 48th-minute try, video replays being unable to prove conclusively if his heel touched the corner flag as he dived over for his first try in a Lions jersey. If Taranaki felt aggrieved, they were ignoring the evidence of their own eyes; even their coach, the former All Black full-back Kieran Crowley, suggested his inspirational hooker Andrew Hore had deserved to be sin-binned for killing the ball in the third quarter. Thereafter there was only one winner.
Two more Hodgson penalties were followed by a try for Horgan after a magical little flip pass with his right hand by Murphy and the Leicester full- back then helped himself to two quickfire scores, the second created by another lovely cut-out pass by Owen. Taranaki did score a last-gasp try by Brendon Watt but it was a case of "so what?"
The Lions have registered 10 tries in their first two games on New Zealand soil, no small achievement considering that every side they meet are pumped up to the max. Even when they go behind they stay cool.
"It shows a composure you can build things on," suggested the Lions' midweek coach Ian McGeechan, reflecting on another marvellously staged occasion. The Kiwis' desire to host the 2011 World Cup is clearly intense, as is the Lions' determination to keep on moving in the right direction.