The New Zealand media has once again reacted savagely to the British & Irish Lions loss against the Blues at Eden Park…
They again offered little on attack and now face the prospect of taking on the All Black-laden Crusaders pack three days later in Christchurch. Good luck with that.
On a wet Auckland night, the Lions also showed their hand and potentially lack of aerobic fitness by attempting to slow the pace at every opportunity – walking slowly to each lineout especially.
Pressure, patience and phases did not translate into points, though french referee Pascal Guzere did the Lions few favours.
The Lions looked like they might escape, but the Blues picked them up, held them in the air and speared the body into the ground. This was Tana Umaga’s night of redemption. This was the moment when he can finally move on from that moment of brutality 12 years ago.
Just as it was back in 2005, some of the officiating was bizarre, to say the least, and the Lions players did extremely well to keep their mouths shut. But it has always been thus at Eden Park and the Lions had better get used to it in a hurry, because there are two test matches yet to be played at the ground.
It was at least an improvement on the shambles at Whangarei, and the upswing was led by the Lions 22-year-old lock Maro Itoje. The young Englishman sounds genuinely excited to be here and he played like it.
What can you say? Typical Blues maybe? There they were, drifting out of the game because their scrum was being destroyed and the Lions were slowly grinding them to defeat and wham, four bits of individual brilliance and they pulled off the most sensational win.
Michael Collins made a miracle high ball take, Steven Luatua flipped one offload, Sonny Bill Williams went 40 metres to offload again and then Ihaia West dazzled his way to the tryline.
Magic. Maybe the try of the season so far and with one passage the Blues not only re-wrote their own history, they have left the Lions teetering on the brink of collapse just two games into the tour.