Defenders of the Faith

The truth is that you need to have a lot of faith as a Lion supporter. The Lions have lost a lot more series than they have won – particularly in New Zealand.

This morning at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch 23 players rewarded that faith with a huge performance to inflict the first defeat in 2017 on the Canterbury Crusaders.

It wasn’t perfect and they will have to step up another gear when they face the All Blacks – but it was a significant win in what was billed as ‘the 4th test’ against New Zealand’s best Super Rugby franchise.

The win was based on a monster defence and Andy Farrell should take a bow – the speed of the line stopped the Crusaders using their usual offloading and wide game – some task when they average 5 tries a match.

With more clinical finishing the Lions could have scored more than one try but stopping the Canterbury side getting over the line was more important.

New Zealand teams can hurt you from anywhere so accurate kicking, the chase and restricting room is key. I would rather have kept them out than won by 3 tries to 2.

The Lions will need to score but defence and Owen Farrell’s boot are almost as important.

A lot of players put their hands up today and it was good to see Johnny Sexton handling and directing play when he came on. Warren Gatland will be tempted to see if he can mirror how England use Farrell and play both 10s together.

The only bad news was injuries to Stuart Hogg and Jonathan Davies – both of whom looked sharp before they went off. They both failed head injury assessment and are out of contention for the Highlanders game on Tuesday

There are plenty of tough games and difficult times to come on this tour but today was one to enjoy.

I had the Lions by 5 – but 9 is even better!

Now Warren has to decide on his test side and play them against the Moari All Blacks – but first the rest of the squad need to knock over the Highlanders.

The tour is on!



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