The British & Irish Lions deserved to win the second test in Wellington, because they scored two tries to none. It is not their fault Sonny Boy Williams was ordered off and the All Blacks played with 14 men for most of the match.
Terrible weather, a dominant referee and 14 men forced a fundamentally different approach in the second half. It reminded me of the 80s, because then we were very good at “closing out” a game with a small margin.
As an example, in RWC 2011, the All Blacks did it in the final against France. They played out the last 20 minutes with a tight, disciplined performance and ultimately held the Trophy high. The current British & Irish Lions are better than that French side, yet the All Blacks, playing with only 14 men, were an inch away from pulling it off. History almost repeating itself.
The strategy for the third test at Eden Park will be quite different.
The All Blacks under Hansen have played with an optimistic mind-set and their superior skills have lead them to dominate all opposition and allowed for fresh young players to grow in confidence and play at this elevated level; one we now consider normal. I’m quite sure this is the reason he has named two backs on debut. Big call, with a soon to depart Aaron Cruden sitting on the bench.
I hope the referee is smart enough to understand this, allow the game to be played, and the inevitable tries to be scored.
Que la fete commence...
- Murray Mexted, IRANZ Managing Director