Lions Tour of NZ – 1st Test, Auckland

in #steemsports7 years ago


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Pre Match


This has been the most intense & eagerly anticipated build-up to a rugby test in NZ probably since the world cup at the same venue in 2011. The All Blacks are the current world champions, & have been the dominant force in world rugby since 2011 (some would say for the last century, but I wouldn’t be so bold!). The Lions are the best of England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland, & tour every four years. They were last in NZ in 2005 & are looking for some redemption after losing that series 3-0. On game-day downtown Auckland was turned into a sea of red (Lions supporters - not Labour party ones!). 30,000 Lion fans invaded Eden Park which accounted for about half the crowd. A couple of pre-match stats... a Warren Gatland coached Wales has only beaten NZ/Australia/South Africa sides on 3 occasions from 35 attempts … Eden Park is where the All Blacks have forgotten to lose (not having lost there since 1994). The All Blacks, fired up, performed a great haka which was loved by all (well except those in red maybe…).

How The Game Unfolded


The Lions started well, attacking down the left flank in the opening minutes & almost scoring in the corner but for a great try-saving tackle by Israel Dagg. After this early scare, the All Blacks took control of the game, applying pressure & forcing Lions mistakes. The All Blacks played at speed, with great accuracy & execution, winning the breakdown area & attacking the Lions through the inside & blindside channels. This tactic effectively nullified the Lions rush defense & was a master stroke by All Black coach Steve Hansen. Eventually, the All Black pressure won a penalty close to the Lions line. A quick tap by Aaron Smith saw the ball spun wide & hooker Cory Taylor scored in the corner. Beauden Barrett converted to advance the score to 10-0, after he had also kicked an earlier penalty.
The Lions worked their way back into the game after the All Blacks had a couple of key personnel forced off with injury. Ben Smith left the field after taking another head knock & Ryan Crotty pulled a hamstring. More possession & territory for the Lions rewarded them with a penalty. All Blacks 10-3. The All Blacks won the ensuing kick-off, immediately forcing a penalty in the Lions 22 to stretch the lead to 13-3.
Then came the champagne moment of the match. A long kick down the field by the All Blacks was caught by Lions fullback, Liam Williams, inside his own 22. Evading the chasing All Blacks, he set off left, found space & ran for about 50m before offloading. The ball went through several more pairs of hands before Sean O’Brien crashed over for the Lions. A brilliant try you’ll do well to see better, harking back to the Lions of yesteryear. All Blacks 13-8.
The pace maintained by the All Blacks was upsetting the Lions defensive line, however, the Lions back three (Williams, Daly, Watson) were equally causing the All Blacks issues on the counter attack & broken play. The All Blacks dominated the first 20min but the Lions had fought back in the second 20min, making several chances but failing to nail them.
Into the second half, a bit of arm-wrestle developed with both sides also starting to make substitutions. This all changed when the All Blacks replaced their two starting props with Wyatt Crockett & Charlie Faumuina. Immediately at the next scrum, the All Blacks got a good shove on pushing the Lions back 10m. Kieran Read did brilliantly, scooping the ball from the back of the scrum & passing it round the back of Lions halfback Connor Murray. All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith gathered the pass, the ball was spun wide, with young All Black debutant Reiko Ioane scoring in the corner. Barrett again converts. All Blacks 20-8. The All Blacks started to turn the screw & take control, the pressure and fatigue forcing the Lions into more handling mistakes. They extended the lead with another penalty & come close to scoring another try. The All Blacks win a Lions lineout on their own try line & work their way upfield. A box kick by TJ Perenara is allowed to land by the Lions, Reiko Ioane like a thief in the night was the first to grab the bouncing ball, surrounded by Lions but showed a clean set of heels to sprint 40m & dot down over the chalk again. Barrett converted for an All Black lead 30-8. The Lions scored a consolation try in the 82nd minute but it was all too late. Final score All Blacks 30-15.

The Wrap


The All Blacks fortress of Eden Park remained intact. This was a commanding & clinical performance from the All Blacks, with a score-line in reality flattering the Lions. The All Blacks played with too much speed & precision, though credit to the Lions for looking to play a more expansive game when opportunities arose. It was however these opportunities the Lions failed to nail. For all the talk from Lions camp before the game, it was the All Black reserves that made the bigger impact & changed the game. Front row changes in the 53rd minute gave rise to a dominant scrum that lead to the try by Reiko Ioane in the corner. Hansen clearly out thought Gatland, playing a tighter game than expected by taking the ball up round the fringes, playing off nine, & only throwing it wide when a clear open chance presented itself. The Lions discipline hurt them, which the All Blacks capitalized on. When required, the All Blacks scrambled well in defense.
Ultimately, the All Blacks showed why they are in a small group of one on top of the rugby world. They had the measure of the Lions in almost every department. Outplayed & out-muscled in the forwards, it’s hard to see where the Lions can turn to other than playing a more inventive game in the second test. There will also be doubt which game-plan the All Blacks will bring – the razzle-dazzle as was expected or the tighter, up-the-middle game. The All Blacks seem adept at both. The greatest concern may be that the All Blacks are notoriously slow starters, getting better as a series progresses. The Lions may have just missed the boat. See you from Wellington next weekend!
Sort:  

I am hoping for good weather for second test

doesn't look good i'm afraid.

And the red card ruin the game

Great Post!

Weldon, given vital info on sport. Great one.

Great way of explaining whats going on!

pleased you liked it.

thank you @steemsports keep them coming

This is awesome. Its a great one indeed.

Glad you all enjoyed it, it was a great game, check out the you-tube haka at the top if you haven't already. Thx for the upvotes.

Your post is cool

Chic post so hold.

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