A Look At The Lions’ Biggest Strengths & Biggest Weaknesses
Plenty to work on.
The Lions are now four games into a ten match tour, with a rather disappointing 50% win record. They simply weren’t good enough against the Blues and switched off in the last quarter against the Highlanders having come out brilliantly in the second-half.
The one huge positive however is the Crusaders game wedged in between those two losses. The Crusaders were undefeated heading into the game, with 14 wins from 14 and the Lions got the job done rather immaculately.
So far that’s the only game we’ve seen the majority of the Test players. The ‘Test match animals’ as Sir Ian McGeechan calls them. That side however, still has a lot of work to do before they’re ready to take on the All Blacks and will need to show their worth this Saturday against the Maori.
Here’s how we reckon the Lions stand at the moment when it comes to strengths and weaknesses.
The scrum and lineout have looked solid once the right combinations are on the field. Peter O’Mahony and George Kruis were man mountains against the Crusaders, while Tadhg Furlong has looked as sturdy as a rock when on the field. The Crusaders front-five was made up of All Blacks on Saturday and they came out second best to the Lions at set-piece time. The only worry is the ‘midweek’ set-piece isn’t as strong, so keeping the first-choice pack fit is vital.
Once again we’re looking at that Crusaders game, as it was one of the best defensive displays we’ve ever seen. To stop a side that has been averaging five tries a game from grabbing a single score is incredible. A solid defence can will win you Test matches, and is the foundation of any good team. Line speed was excellent on Saturday as was the organisation and communication within the wall.
The Lions really need to stop giving penalties away, it’s killing them. Sean Fitzpatrick made a very good point last week, where he believe it’s down to trust. You’ve got to trust the men around you, or you’ll panic and make stupid decisions. While the Lions haven’t had much time together, and it is difficult, know that you’re playing alongside players that are at the top of their game and can get the job done. There’s also that added element of players wanting to impress in order to stake a claim for a Test spot. You’d imagine they will hopefully me a lot more relaxed in that sense, once they take the field against the All Blacks.
Three-pointers will not beat the All Blacks. As Ireland proved in Chicago, you have to play the All Blacks at their own game if you’re to beat them, and that’s scoring tries. Ireland grabbed 40 points in that game, running in five tries. The Lions really need to start converting their chances when they get them and taking more risks and backing themselves. Sometimes you just have to boot the ball into the corner and let your opposition know your intentions. The belief also has to be there that you can come away with 5-7 points.