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Post by kiakahaaotearoa on Fri 23 Jun 2017, 4:17 pm

Well done to Scotland supporters. Sure they would've traded that win in Sydney for a RWC win in 2015. But you have to admire their tenacity. What a shame there isn't a three-match series on offer for them against Australia. That'd ease the pain of their Lions disappointments. The games between these two sides have been really close in recent times and I think Australia missed a trick not getting together a series or even putting together a tri-series tournament with Italy or Fiji. I seem to recall South Africa and Manu Samoa being involved with another test team in a tri-tournament a few years back but this might be a stark reminder that I need the cobwebs cleared from my mind.

But the big game tomorrow is the Lions playing New Zealand at Eden Park. Not an easy place to get a test win for a visiting team. The Lions is a flawed but admirable beast and though its infinite parts are pored (or should that be pawed?)over meticulously, at the end of the day we're lucky they're still kicking about and I for one consider myself lucky to have seen them in the flesh.

This is being built up as a clash of styles but I'm reminded of the road safety message in the UK campaigning for awareness for cyclists: .

Much has been made of the set piece fortitude of the Lions and their rush defence. Much has been made of the All Blacks' desire for unstructured play. But if either side goes looking only for those things, they risk being caught unawares in other areas of the game. New Zealand are very solid in the set piece themselves and the Lions are capable of unlocking the defence up the middle and out wide if they're allowed to.

So let's enjoy the rugby on offer and be captivated in the struggle for dominance and the stout defending when the chips are down.

Key battles:

the first and foremost the battle up front. NZ have been vulnerable around the fringes of the ruck. Aaron Smith is not a big defender. Who can get over the gain line and front foot ball are going to be more decisive than scrum or rolling maul opportunities. Set piece is great for setting up points-scoring opportunities but the breakdown is where the pressure can be applied. Get ascendancy there and the pressure can be applied. Scoreboard pressure has to be applied if either team gets a roll-on at a particular part of the game. Neither side is going to be dominant for the whole game. Strike when the iron is hot.

The battle of the halves. Aaron Smith will look to take out defenders with his pass. Conor Murray puts the box kick on a dime. Aaron Smith rarely does. Both can snipe but in different ways. Aaron Smith is looking to link up. Murray is looking to set up a roll-on. Beauden Barrett does not like his space closed down. Farrell has good game management even when things get claustrophobic. Barrett in space with his speed is lethal.

The back three and the kicking game. Both sides have players who can hurt you on the scoreboard. But which side can put themselves into scoring opportunities by creating enough space for these players to have an impact?

Of all the three tests, the first one is the most likely to be decided by defence rather than attack. Both sides will still be feeling each other out so it's important to make as few defensive errors as possible. Kick your goals and make your tackles. Don't expect any moonwalking bears on attack this game.

May the better team win!

PS Rugby and breakfast are a beautiful mix. Bangers and smash.


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Post by Luckless Pedestrian on Fri 23 Jun 2017, 5:53 pm

Great post.

One of my main worries is that the Lions focus too much on getting at Barrett and forget about Smith, who has a field day. I hope I'm wrong!

Luckless Pedestrian

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Post by RuggerRadge2611 on Fri 23 Jun 2017, 6:09 pm

Best post I've seen on here for weeks. And yeah Samoa, Italy, South Africa and Scotland had a round Robin tournament last Lions series. Great move by Saturday rugby.

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Post by Taylorman on Fri 23 Jun 2017, 6:25 pm

One thing we've found is when the Lions get taken on upnfront they've had poor scoring in the last twenty. Saders, Blues, Highlanders and that first match.

All gave the Lions a tough time up front, Lions hardly scored in the last twenty of any of them. Add the NZ scrum and bench to that equation and you get a very volatile combination.


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