I remember England under Geoff Cook were going through a tough patch and much criticism.
They went to Dublin and strangled the life out of Ireland in the 6 Nations.
In the changing room after Dean Richards turned to Cook and said in a gruff voice, something like “was that more like it?”
In Hamilton earlier today ‘that was more like it’ as the Lions won their first midweek game to go 4 from 6.
It will boost the whole squad as they head to Auckland for the first test. I have little doubt that the NZ media will hasten to point out that the Chiefs didn’t have their first team and decry even quicker the tactics of the Lions that suffocated the Chiefs running game.
Eddie Jones said he wanted England to be the number one team in the world and that they wouldn’t achieve that by copying the All Blacks.
No one on the planet can beat the ABs in an open offloading game – so, as EJ pointed out – find another way.
The Lions may just have done that in the games against the Crusaders, Maori ABs and today, the Chiefs.
Deny NZ teams space, defend fast and suffocate their open game.
The NZ media and fans may moan that they like to watch offloads and the running game – but winning is everything.
If the Lions win the series ‘winning ugly’ will be the NZ whinge. Personally I like it – everyone loves running rugby but for me there is a beauty in a brutal pack and a mean defence.
Of course, all this is easier said than done against the purring efficiency of the best team in the world. But there is little doubt that Steve Hansen will know that the Lions will not give the ABs the space they usually enjoy or easy ball and positions to play their wide game.
The 34-6 win this morning was extremely satisfying and none of those Lions who played would look out of place in the test arena.
Did any of them play their way into the starting XV? Probably not, but a few will definitely take part in the series. Full marks – and a word for Gatland who I have criticised over the call-ups. He resisted the temptation to give cheap shirts to the bench – even when the win was firmly secured.
We were away last night and so I had to watch the match at Sky Go on the phone – yeah, regular Bill Gates me!
It was better & easier than I expected and I didn’t miss anything when I needed a waz!