Lions Tour of NZ – 2nd Test, Auckland

in #steemsports7 years ago

SteemSports Presenter: @sportsdesk

SteemSports General Manager: Nolan Jacobson, @theprophet0, STEEM Witness & PeerPlays Witness.

Pre Match

A week ago, the All Blacks owned the Lions, winning 30-15, a scoreline which on reflection flattered the Lions. During the intervening week, there has been the continuing jostling between the two coaches. Lions coach, Warren Gatland. accusing the All Blacks of deliberate foul play and bad music, All Black coach, Steve Hansen. rebutting that he must be desperate. As it threatened to get out of hand as the media ventured into fake news territory, the coaches called a truce to the chatter and got on with talking rugby.
In a three test series, the Lions must win the second test to keep the series alive. Gatland has opted for a few interesting changes to his team. He has brought back tour captain, Warburton, on the flank to bolster the breakdown, an area the Lions were brutalised in last week. He has brought in dynamic Itoje to lock, but has retained the aging Wyn Jones who ran out of puff after 50mins last week. Above all though, he has signaled a more expansive game by choosing two play-makers at 10 and 12, in doing so dropping Te’o to the bench who, by Lions standards, had a storming game last week. His bench is more dynamic though, an area where the All Blacks ruled last week, and likely to provide more needed-impact.
The All Blacks have only made changes forced by injury. Dagg moves to fullback and onto the wing comes the flying Fijian Naholo. Leinart-Brown starts at centre in the place of injured Crotty. Bustling Laumape comes onto the bench and will be keen to run at the Lions 10 and 12.
The same fixture 12 years ago was a blowout win to the All Blacks. Known as the Dan Carter test, he scored 33 points as the All Blacks won 48-18. The conditions forecast are damp and windy, which may thwart the Lions attempt to play more expansively. This will be a test where the team who dominates up front will likely win. And history tells us the All Blacks improve as a series progresses.

Onto The Game

Steady rain greeted the players. All Blacks performed the Ka Mate haka this time. The All Blacks started strongly with a bit of possession, trying a few early box kicks in the wet conditions. The Lions worked their way into the game and by the 10min mark and had had more possession and territory. Both scrums looked solid on their own ball though the All Blacks lineout started wobbly, losing an early one. The French referee, Jerome Garces, also got into the action early, giving a harsh breakdown penalty against the All Blacks after two minutes.
The first time the All Blacks were inside the Lions half they forced a penalty 35m out. Barrett lined it up but hit the upright. The greasy conditions plus pressure were making handling difficult. The All Blacks won a scrum on Lions ball, got a penalty 30m out and Barrett slotted the kick between the posts. All Blacks 3-0. The Lions shortly after won a penalty 50m out and Farrell slotted it. 3-3.

The All Blacks turned up the heat and caught the Lions trying to clear the ball from their own 22. Right then, in that moment, they changed the game. The All Black Sonny, Bill Williams, went into a tackle shoulder first, collected Lions player Watson in the head as he was falling in the tackle of Naholo. A clumsy tackle but refs are getting tough on players being hit above the shoulders. Could have been a yellow card but the ref saw red and SBW’s game was done, and the All Blacks were reduced to 14 men with 55min still to play. The All Blacks subbed off Kaino and brought on Laumape in midfield. They played with only 7 forwards for the remainder of the game.
Both teams continued to infringe as the shrill of the French ref’s whistle continued to be heard. By halftime both teams had traded two more penalty kicks each. At the half time break it was 9-9.

The rain had almost stopped by the start of the second half but the ground was still very greasy. The All Blacks were early on attack, Lions caught offside 30m out. Barrett misses the attempt at goal. The All Blacks continued to play territory well, staying camped inside the Lions half. The All Blacks picked up the pace and forced two kick-able penalties. Barrett kicked one of them. The continued infringing by the Lions was preventing the All Blacks from playing but the ref is refusing to show them a yellow card.
With pressure building, the Lions resort to open thuggery. Lions prop Vunipola late charges Barrett, 30m out. Barrett kicks, All Blacks 15-9. Two minutes later Vunipola again targeted Barrett, this time lying prone on the ground a metre from the ruck. Collected him in the head so if SBW got red so should Vunipola. Where SBW’s tackle was clumsy, this was intentional & deliberate. Vunipola only gets yellow.

So, it was 14 vs 14 for 10 minutes as the All Blacks reserves started to roll on. Another penalty, Lions offside, 35m out. Barrett nails it. 18-9. Yet more thuggery by the Lions followed as flanker Sean O’Brien hit Naholo in the head with a swinging arm. Surprisingly (or not) the French ref says it’s ok. Naholo goes off for a concussion check and doesn’t return. All Blacks reshuffled their backline again as Cruden came on.
This was the turning point of the game... the All Blacks, to this point, were playing smart by staying camped in the Lions half. The Lions for their part had made a lot of mistakes, given away a lot of penalties and resorted to unsavoury methods in an effort to get back into the game. The Lions first attack of the half after 20min, and following the All Black reshuffle, Faletau crashed thru a Dagg tackle in the corner to score. 18-14. More subs were made by both teams, then following a great break by Laumape through the middle, the All Blacks won a penalty. Barrett kicked. 21-14.
The Lions drove up-field after the kick off, hooker Jamie George was put in a gap, offloaded to Davies who was tackled less than 10m out from the All Black try line. Conor Murray gathered from the back, jumped over the ruck & sprinted the few yards to score. However closer inspection of the final breakdown saw Sexton standing in the All Black defense line in an offside position, & Farrell had dived through the ruck to grab Perenara’s legs to prevent him defending. Both illegal acts, both penalisable, both unpunished, despite the All Black protestations. Farrell converts. 21-21.

The final scoring act of the game was a little surreal. Lions prop, Kyle Sinckler, jumped as he caught a high pass and was tackled by the oncoming defensive line before coming back to earth. Technically the penalty given was correct but it was an extremely odd infringement. Farrell kicked the penalty. Lions 24-21. Game Over.

The Wrap

Sometimes the dice don’t roll your way and the All Blacks found that out. The Lions played much better than last week despite giving away a lot of silly penalties again. However, after the All Blacks were reduced to 14 men with 55min to play, a side half as good as the Lions claim they are should have romped away. Instead they scratched out an undeserving win, littered with constant infringing & illegal play, and only went ahead in the final 10min. Without Kaino on the field, the Lions were more effective in slowing the breakdown, often illegally. The extra effort of playing with 14 men for 55min finally took its toll on the All Blacks. To only lose by three points was a massive effort, with Barrett also leaving nine points on the park. The act of thuggery on Naholo was one adjustment too many for the All Blacks and this was when the game changed. So it’s game on in Auckland next week. For the first time in 46 years, the Lions may win a series in New Zealand. Eleven times the Lions have toured NZ, only once have they been triumphant. Could next week make it twice? After being thumped in the 1st test, scratching out a win in the 2nd, they’ll have to come up with something very special to be deserved winners of a test series should that eventuate. Whatever happens, it promises to be an enthralling contest.


The weather will be important part of the match tonight. The forecast was no rain, but it's raining now. Rain might benefit the lions as they can score from penalties

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Great post. Hope you will be covering the rugby championship in August as well. Being a South African I should tell you that we love our Springboks 🇿🇦 Thanks!

Hi, yes i'll be covering it, free of bias naturally. Might even have a brai when we play the boks. In Cape Town i think?

Great stuff...Braai it is! I'll be at the game in Newlands👍

thats myteam will always joy for us..superb

Go Lions xD

i think the wgtn bar owners were pretty happy also.

thanks for the info

i love this game, hard very hard for the players but audience always enjoying well. lolx

real madrid is the best :D

think you got the wrong sport buddy. it's neither round ball nor bull fighting.

A big win for a change. You are an excellent broadcaster.

the all blacks may need mossad to crack the lions code!!

Great match

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