The Blues claimed a 22 to 16 victory by executing on chances in the wet weather. The victory was achieved against an underwhelming Lions side, in front of 40,000 fans at Eden Park.

Blues

The Blues appeared to be playing their typical game. It would’ve been unfair on the men from the north to state that the Blues were dominant, but they were rightfully victorious. Despite this, the Blues could’ve lost the game very easily, something that is too similar to performances past.

The Blues weren’t clinical overall, but they executed where the Lions couldn’t. Michael Collins and Matt Duffie were both safe under the high ball, where the other winger in Rieko Ioane was dangerous in attack. This was something that the Lions backs failed to replicate, maybe bar Robbie Henshaw who began to trouble the Blues with his kicking game.

Steven Luatau was the Blues player under the most pressure. With higher honours beckoning, it would be safe to presume that he will be included in the All Blacks squad due to his performance on Wednesday night. His offload to Sonny Bill Williams which led to the Ihaia West try highlighted the skill requirements needed to be an All Blacks back rower, which should trouble the Lions in a few weeks time.

The Blues claimed a surprise victory over the best from the northern hemisphere.
Sonny Bill Williams celebrates scoring a try on half-time against the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park. © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

Lions

Despite an improvement since the Barbarians game last Saturday, the Lions lacked in discipline and urgency.

It comes down to the ‘Warrenball‘ tactic, which was again evident throughout the game. The tactic that some would argue is too predictable, was used, but the Lions did spread the ball when they saw fit. However, the result doesn’t lie.

Regardless, the team looked much more dangerous and organised when compared to the disappointment of last weekend.

The Lions celebrate scoring against the Auckland Blues
CJ Stander scores a try against the Blues at Eden Park.
©INPHO/Dan Sheridan / www.photosport.nz

There was a silver lining for the Lions though, rather multiple signs of hope.

CJ Stander and Maro Itoje both shone in a game that was otherwise dire. Stander, in particular, was clearly hard to stop which replicated his performance in Chicago last year. However, one man can’t win a game of rugby.

Itoje has proven since he appeared on the international scene last season, that he is playing well beyond his years. He is only twenty-two years old, yet, he was leading the line-out in the dying minutes, and was showing real intent throughout the duration of the battle.

The two will no doubt both be included as integral parts of the test team, one that desperately needs to improve considerably.

Lions must move on

Reports will surface throughout all forms of media regarding the performance of both teams, mainly the Lions. The British and Irish Lions played poorly, admitted in the post-match press conference. They will certainly lift for Saturday’s clash with the Crusaders.

The Lions need to concentrate on the future, rather than dwell on the past. They need a player to step up against the Crusaders. A player needs to show that they are able to pull off the SBW esque offload, or a Jerry Collins like tackle, which can sway the momentum of any game in their favour.

The British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand.
Which one of these players will rise to the challenge and transform the series?
©INPHO/Dan Sheridan / www.photosport.nz

Blues – 22 (R. Ioane, S. Williams, I. West tries; S Perofeta, I. West con; I. West pen)

Lions – 16 (CJ. Stander tries; L Halfpenny con; L. Halfpenny 3 pens)

Photos: www.photosport.nz

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Author: Finn Morton

To say I’m obsessed with sport is an understatement. It was due to this passion that I realised a career in sports journalism was the way to go. I’m looking to spread my passion for sport whilst gaining some valuable experience.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It matters only a little for lions ? to when most games all they need to do is when the series against the all blacks and that’s it their names will be written in folk law as heroes in the northern hemisphere and greatly respected around the southern hemisphere, win 2 tests against the abs and that’s it

    • Totally agree. If they win the series then who cares if they lose every other match. These other matches are but intense training runs. The big question here is, can they win a series losing a lot of games and having their confidence dented? It is getting very exciting now. Thanks for the comment.

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