Kiwi kings confused in Christchurch

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    An interesting result in Christchurch with the Lions confounding all the overly confident Kiwi fans who thought the Crusaders were going to thrash the northerners.

    Instead it was a clear points victory to Lions coach Warren Gatland over his local counterpart Scott Robertson.

    The confused fans must be asking themselves what happened.

    For many, the referee ‘happened’ as they just could not understand the calls from the French whistler who picked up on things like the scrum infringements, hands on the ground in the rucks and the general offside play.

    It’s a pity the same referee wasn’t there for the Chiefs and Highlanders matches against the most favoured team in Super Rugby, or there could have been very different results.

    But that’s water under the bridge.

    What really happened was that the Lions did what few teams have managed this year. They put the Crusaders under pressure and, because they are not used to being under pressure, they made mistakes.

    Therein lies the basis for any rugby match. Figure out ways to put the opposition under pressure and see how well they handle it.

    ‘Not good enough’, was the answer for the Crusaders tonight.

    The basis for the win was what most Kiwis would recognise as ugly rugby, dominating the set piece, winning the collisions, and kicking, kicking, kicking.

    It was not the prettiest, but it was effective.

    Is that all they’ve got? I think they are still holding back, knowing that it is in the first Test where they’ll have to unleash all their weapons – or it will be adios amigo.

    On the selection side, the Lions have got some interesting questions to answer.

    Did the best ball-playing loose-head prop in the world, Mako Vunipola, do enough in the scrum to secure his Test place?

    Did Tagh Furlong play his way out?

    Has Taulupe Faletau got enough mongrel to really bother the All Blacks?

    Has someone, who has mongrel to spare, Sean O’Brien, played his way into the Test team? Did Anthony Watson do the same at fullback?

    And what to do in the backs with Jonathon Sexton and Owen Farrell? That to me is an easy one with Farrell needing to be the sole boss as Sexton’s need to share the limelight could put the great one off. Sexton was noticeably better with Farrell’s calming influence.

    As for the All Blacks, you would think they will not be overly worried – not yet anyway.

    First they would like to see how the strong Lions’ defence plays against an All Blacks team that will get much more possession than the Crusaders did tonight.

    Plus they will be interested to see how the red jerseys go against the likes of Ben Smith, Julian Savea and the Barrett brothers.

    If the visitors should pass that Test too, then, and only then, maybe, the Kiwi fans will start to worry.

    Just a little bit.