Blueprint: All Blacks vs the Lions

Jokerman Roar Guru

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    The Lions came into New Zealand without a roar and more like a cat sound.

    Slowly their power emerged after the Crusaders game, but then it dimmed again after the Highlanders. It then came back against the Maori and they showed how threatening they can be. Their simple game plan dulled the Maori, and their spirits it seemed.

    The Lions have awoken and now believe. One can feel the momentum. Even Warren Gatland had some new confidence, and gave a few digs at Steve Hansen – silly though, no need to poke the beast, the challenge is hard enough as it is.

    The Super teams have shown the Lions strengths and weaknesses. Though we are now realising the Lions play two different teams, and their number one side is far superior to their mid-week team.

    The All Blacks have only played once; they have shown very little for the opposition. The rust took only 25 minutes to disappear and then it was outright pure, rugby attack. I think all the Lions learned from this were the All Blacks can be lethal from anywhere on the park, and the Lions must try and suffocate them, and play strong, structured rugby.

    That would probably work against most teams in the world, but with the All Blacks at home, some imagination and flair is needed to unlock their mysterious brilliance.

    The French referees won’t help the All Blacks, but Steve Hansen has been diplomatic and open to adapt to the changes required. Hansen has accepted, not denied. He has been at one with the controversy and has played it the best he can, and he will adapt.

    You could say Hansen has played this part the opposite way to how Michael Cheika would. It’s when the pressure is on that Cheika’s dysfunctional fighting manner comes out. The All Blacks later in the year will show where Cheika is at.

    The Lions blueprint is there to be seen. They have structure, tight play, immaculate kicking, military like with a defence that is fast and tight. Their line speed in defence is incredibly fast and it shuts down the attack immediately. But tiredness and relentless pressure with variables in attack can unlock the Lions speed in defence. The All Blacks know what is coming and they will be prepared.

    I think Hansen will note how the Samoans’ line speed slowed near the end, and the All Blacks were allowed to apply their attacking magic, and they did. Their attack flooded Samoa, and Samoa had no answer.

    The Lions won’t tire as much at the end like Samoa, but they will tire, and Hansen will make sure it happens. Hansen knows the All Blacks have to empty the tank and play with precision in the final 20. If the All Blacks can continue to attack, and at speed, the Lions line speed will slow down and give the All Blacks opportunities.

    Julian Savea of New Zealand All Blacks scores a try

    (AAP Image/ David Rowland)

    The All Blacks will lift the tempo in the last quarter, and it will be interesting to see how the Lions react.

    Once the game becomes open and relaxed then the All Blacks will become potent; they are then allowed to fully express themselves. And it’s often a brief moment or a three-minute spell during the game where the structure loosens, and then bang, the All Blacks strike. The All Blacks can untangle the Lions defence well before the last quarter.

    The All Blacks blueprint is like a lethal machine. They do the core basics exceptionally well so the backs can strike and cause damage, and the forwards too. They are linked and it’s done with precision. They want an open game. They have sublime attacking intricacies within their simple game plan that is meticulous.

    Floyd Mayweather as a boxer had a defensive code that no one could break. The All Blacks have an attacking code that no one can break – not at home, they haven’t lost since 2009. They haven’t lost at Eden Park since 1994. Can the Lions break it? We will see. It’s the ultimate test, though I believe the All Blacks will be the winners.

    It’s time for the All Blacks to break the Lions spirit and show their class, and allow their blueprint to dominate. The Lions players do seem like nice guys, but rugby in Aotearoa is a battlefield, and it’s something they’re going to find out. The Lions bullied the Maori, and now the spirit of the nation waits for the Garden of Eden to allow justice, and then it will be.

    The All Blacks need this; to take them to even higher grounds. The cauldron waits…

    All Blacks by 13