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Friday, July 01, 2005

Can the Lions win?! 

I think everybody would have thought that the first test would be the one with all the anticipation where everybody would then be able to say "right, this team is a bit stronger, they'll win the series" and that will be that.

But if anything because the Lions were a complete no show, they've almost completely rejigged their team and there's been all this whingeing bullshit (it's a rough game guys, get over it), there may be some kind of dramatic shift based on stuff all happening on the field.

Umaga got off lightly that's for sure but so did the 2-3 guys in the Lions who were rucking the man identically to the three man suspension incident involving the 3 Blues players. There wasn't anything said after the game about that was there? And here was me thinking that that incident had changed world rugby forever. At least that's what we were told at the time.

I think the first 20-30 minutes in the second test will decide the momentum for the rest of the series. If the Lions go a couple of tries behind in the first half they might well drop their bundle completely because there's nothing worse than suddenly realising that the opposition is better than you and goal kicking, tactics, and defensive patterns devised by NASA aren't going to hide the fact.

HOWEVER. Regardless of the fact that the ABs would have won by more if it had been a drier track, I can see a very tight scoreline in this match and I can certainly see the Lions winning it.

Here's why:
Muliaina at fullback is a bit of a dodgy move. MacDonald was very solid in teh first half and fairly rubbish in the second but to me the first half is the most important for the All Blacks. They like to go out and cut teams to bits early on, but history has shown that when they get bogged down in the first half they often struggle as the game wears on.

I would have stuck with MacDonald, played it safe and let Muliaina play the third if we were 2-0 up. His kicking is shit and I can see a few lineouts under pressure because he hasn't found enough metres.

The Lions have Robinson on the wing where he is far better.

The Lions have Wilkinson at first five (Jones was shit) and Henson at second five.

Now whilst the Lions backline isn't as good as ours, it's certainly not that bad and is virtually everyone of them is capable of beating a couple of AB tacklers and running into space.

The AB defence will have to perform as well as the first test where they were in the Lions face and knocked them on their arse.

The Lions will get more ball and better field position. There's no way we will perform as well in the lineouts, pinching all their ball. They will attack our line more and we will have to keep them out and stay onside. The Lions will get at least half a dozen penalties in our half. That's virtually a givein so we will need to respond in turn.

The ABs will come out a bit more hesitant than they did in the first test. Last week they felt as though they had to prove something so they burst out of the gates. This week they don't have so much to prove.

The Lions felt they were well prepped, Woodward had his boys, the 24 million had been well spent (muhahaha) and it turned to shit.

Now they really have to prove themselves.

Lions 19
All Blacks 17


All Blacks 25
Lions 15

All Blacks 33
Lions 11


or 48 18, and a nice wee slice of that 24 million into the pockets of Alastair Campbell for a job well done.
fucking awesome wasn't it?!

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