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British And Irish Lions Ready For First All Black Test

The British and Irish Lions tour is in its third week. The team has been very successful up until this point, with an impressive 4-2 record. The Lions have finally gotten revenge against the Maori All Blacks for their 2005 win. The Tour has been a solid improvement to what the expectations were for the tour this year. Now that we’ve made it to this point, none of that matters. Saturday starts what the tour is all about, winning the three-game All Black test series.

At the beginning of the tour, the major concern for the Lions was their ability to score tries against the New Zealand teams. In the Lions’ first three matches, they had only two tries. One try was from CJ Stander in the loss against the Blues, the other was by Anthony Watson against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians. In the last three matches, a drastic improvement with seven tries over the three matches.

The Lions’ defense has been improving through the tour as well, although not to the same degree. In the first three matches, four tries were allowed, three of which were against the Blues. The second three matches of the tour have only featured three tries, two of which were featured in the loss to the Highlanders.

There were concerns that the Lions would struggle and not be able to keep up even with the Maori All Blacks. That was proven wrong when the Lions completely dominated them in every possible way. Many believed that the Lions would lose all their provincial matches, instead, they went 2-2. The Lions have performed very well throughout the tour, even with their tour captain failing to make the test squad.

Sam Warburton not to start against All Blacks in the first test

There were a handful of surprises when Warren Gatland announced his match day squad against the All Blacks. The biggest surprise was that the tour captain, Sam Warburton, was left out of the starting 15, being left to the bench. Leaving Maro Itoje on the bench seems to be a questionable call by Gatland, who seems to have preferred the power of Alun-Wyn Jones to the speed and lineout work of Itoje.

In Warburton’s place, Peter O’Mahony has been named as captain of the Lions. O’Mahony was captain last week in the Lions strong performance against the Maori All Blacks last Saturday. Besides one bit of confusion at the end of the first half, his captaincy was quite strong. The main question at this stage is will Warburton return to starting form before the end of the tour? If he does not, should he have been brought on the tour in the first place?

The Lions’ Kryptonite will start for the All Blacks

Sonny Bill Williams performed very well in the Blues match against the Lions. He scored one try and was responsible for a second in one of only two defeats the Lions have suffered so far. The All Blacks have also included the other Blues player that wrecked so much havoc on the Lions’ defense in Rieko Ioane. Beauden Barrett’s all universe play will cause many problems for the Lions defense. He is one of the few stars the Lions have not faced yet. The entire front row of the All Blacks squad faced the Lions two weeks ago with the Crusaders. It will be good to see which team has made the adjustments better in recent weeks.

The Lions have grown a lot over the past two weeks as a team. They have exceeded many people’s expectations already, can they continue?

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David Bradham

Active duty Navy, have a true passion for Rugby.
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