So the phoney war will soon be over, it most certainly is with the on pitch matters. This Saturday the British and Irish Lions take on the best rugby side on the planet and current back to back World Champions, New Zealand, in what promises to be one hell of a test match at fortress Eden Park. No doubt off the pitch the mind games will continue between head coaches Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland but lets be honest, it is all about what happens on the field in Auckland on Saturday night (Saturday morning, if you are watching in Blighty) like I will be.
After a shaky start the Lions are now beginning to look like a crack team and squad. They are four wins and two losses as we stand with their last couple of victories being dominant affairs against the Maori All Blacks and the Chiefs. Winning margins of 10-32 and 6-34 respectively have made most people forget about the sloppy performances in their defeats to the Blues and the Highlanders, which were either side of an important victory over New Zealand’s number one team the Crusaders. The worry earlier in the tour was that the test matches were going to be no contests, but the recent very positive results have now given the tourists a springboard to approach the matches against their hosts with real confidence, especially with a number throughout the whole touring party now putting their hands up big time for selection.
ALL BLACK RUTHLESSNESS
Despite criticsm in the local press and a few barbs from within the inner sanctum of the All Black machine, it was obvious that the Lions were not being take lightly, especially in regards of the fact that New Zealand arranged a pre-series game a week before the first test to help with their own preparations. Hopefully the tourists were not watching as they destroyed and I mean DESTROYED a Samoa team 78-0 with some mesmerising rugby, oh and just the 12 tries!!! Unbeaten on home soil since September 2009, unbeaten at Eden Park since 1994 (two tests are being played there) and only four defeats under the current regime headed up by Steve Hansen, he took over at the start of 2012 by the way and has been in charge for 69 matches. These are the statistics that show just how much of a task awaits Warren Gatland’s men this weekend and over the series.
So for the next three Saturdays the best of northern hemisphere British rugby take on the best of the southern hemisphere. As mentioned the better form shown by the visitors will give them great belief that they can take this tri-series and have no doubt WARRENBALL will be their default setting, though a sprinkle of flair will be in evidence as it is highly likely a number of tries are necessary to prevail against this opposition. The fact the Lions performances have tended to improve will most definitely make sure the New Zealanders are not complacent, which I feel will be the downfall of the tourists. The host nation are very proud and they will want to win this series 3-0, they would take a 2-1 win but all the analysis would be on the defeat and how it actually occurred. I personally think it will be a home series victory and if the Lions can win one of the test matches it will be some kind of success against this clinical All Black team. One things for sure we are in for three fascinating matches which we will not be able to take our eyes off. Enjoy the read and let me know what you think.
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