Lions Vs Blues
The Lions will face the Auckland Blues on Wednesday and after the 13-7 win over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians last Saturday. Some of the players that played in the game last week have been asked to double up with a number of players getting a place on the bench and even at this early stage after only one game a number of players will need to produce a stronger display after some poor performances last weekend.
Here’s hoping that the performance last Saturday isn’t the type of performance we will be seeing over the next 6 weeks. At times the game plan didn’t seem to be working and the tempo with which we had been told the Lions would play was severely lacking it was only when a number of changes were made that the Lions began to come up with some exciting plays and slowly but surely began to squeeze the Babas but credit to the Barbarians they stuck to a fast paced game and they caused the Lions a number of issues in defence but thanks to strong defending the Lions survived on a number of occasions.
If you have watched rugby in New Zealand in the last few years, you will know that all the teams play a very fast game that will test all defences that come up against it. The Blues for their part just beat the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby and will relish the chance to take on the very best of British and Irish Lions who will hand out 11 debuts in the match day 23.
There will be 4 Irish Lions involved in the starting XV on Wednesday namely Jack Mc Grath , CJ Stander and the Irish centre pairing of Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne who will get a chance to impress Warren Gatland and show what they can do , like Brian O Driscoll and Rob Henderson did in 2001 when they came from nowhere to be paired in the Test team to face Australia.
Gatland has again gone for familiar partnerships with Webb and Biggar at half back and Henshaw and Payne in the centre that familiarity can only help in the quest to beat the Blues. Tana Umaga played against the Lions in 2005 and captained the All Blacks to a 3-0 win , he is currently coaching the Blues and will want to create a piece of history by playing and coaching against the Lions.
After such an underwhelming display last Saturday the Lions will really want to get into the game early and try and set down a marker but coming back to the tempo that New Zealand teams play at it will be interesting to watch how the Lions will defend against the Blues.
The pressure is on Gatland’s men after the opening game and the time is now to set down a marker and a warning that the Lions are here to win a Test Series….
Cian Mc Gibney