New Zealand v Lions – Second Test Preview
The Lions have a lot of work to do this week as they prepare for their next encounter with the All Blacks after being beaten 30-15 last Saturday.
Simply put, New Zealand were the better team for the first test, schooling the Lions with their usual style of clinical play. While the Lions had many bright periods throughout the game, Warren Gatland will need to go back to the drawing board if he plans to shake off the All Blacks’ iron grip on this three-test series.
One key aspect the Lions will have to improve on this Saturday will be their finishing power. Gatland’s team has failed to capitalise on many opportunities this tour, which cost them stronger leads in their games against the Crusaders and the Maoris, but against the All Blacks cost them the game.
Some of these mistakes came down to simple mistakes, a lack of cohesion or poor tactical decisions. While Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson and Jonathan Davies were able to bring their pace to the game and broke through the Kiwi defence numerous times, they were unable to capitalise on their openings.
The Lions dominated the lineout, managing to steal four of New Zealand’s inputs, but they were unable to use this advantage to create a solid driving maul as the All Blacks held them off. While the Lions didn’t make any striking impression in the scrum, they only had four put-ins, due to the high level of discipline shown by the All Blacks throughout the game.
Discipline will be point that Gatland will want to drive home running up to this Saturday. The Lions conceded 12 penalties to the All Blacks’ seven. No team will punish a lack of discipline more so than the All Blacks, and poor discipline at set pieces in the first Test cost the Lions points and momentum.
Gatland will consider making changes as he looks to level the series, with the likes of Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Leigh Halfpenny and Iain Henderson all in contention.
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