At 8.30am tomorrow morning Irish time, The British and Irish Lions will take on the All Blacks in the First Test of the 2017 Lions tour. Despite having four nations to choose from, the Lions are the underdogs. If they are to upset the odds, these are three things they will have to do to secure a victory.
New Zealand are by far the best attacking team in the world. Give them an inch and they will find a yard, and that’s all they need. In Beauden Barrett they have the best player in world rugby who can create something out of nothing. He is clever with ball in hand, has a great turn of pace, is a crisp passer and is deadly with a cross field kick.
Therefore, it is imperative that the Lions close down Barrett as quickly as possible and not allow him any space. Outside him at 12, Sonny Bill Williams will look to offload at all times. If the Lions can get to him and wrap him up before he thinks, there will be opportunities for a turnover.
Another aspect of the New Zealand attack is spreading the ball wide and as quick as it allows. If the Lions can get their line speed right they can prevent this, slowing New Zealand down and allowing the likes of O’Mahony and O’Brien a chance to disrupt at the break down.
Although linespeed will be crucial it is important that no gaps for as if any team will explout them, it will be the All Blacks.
For most teams, discipline is cited to prevent the other side scoring easy penalties. When looked at in relation to the All Blacks it is more to prevent attacking set pieces.
Beauden Barrett isn’t the worlds greatest kicker but he can certainly create. Off the back of a scrum or a line out, New Zealand rarely fail to convert. New Zealand love nothing more than facing men in open space as they have the craft to go through you or around you.
Also if the game is tight, you don’t want to be handing the worlds greatest side the option of tacking on easy points from the boot.
Vary the attack
Conor Murray is the best scrum half in the world. Despite some arguing that his opposition 9, Aaron Smith is superior, this is false. The Limerick man has the best box kick in the world and has caused chaos for all defends in New Zealand with his pin point accuracy.
Yet, he will have to bring his outside backs into the game if they Lions want to win. When Ireland beat New Zealand last November it was because they weren’t afraid to attack the All Blacks. Ireland racked up 40 points and scored 5 tries showing that this New Zealand rear guard can be penetrated.
Murray and Farrell outside him will be crucial as they will have to know when to kick for territory and when to attack out wide. Gatland has named a team on form and included a very attacking back three in Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson and Liam Williams who will look to go forward with ball in hand.
As it is said, “Fortune favours the brave”.
Heres hoping that the Lions will be brave tomorrow.