Fears the British and Irish Lions will be Test pushovers in New Zealand have been squashed with a muscular 12-3 win over the Crusaders in Christchurch.
British and Irish Lions 12
The 2017 Lions tour continues this evening as they travel to Christchurch for their third match against the Crusaders with kickoff scheduled for 5:35pm AEST from AMI Stadium.
Plenty has been made of the Lions’ performances to date especially after their close loss to the Blues last Wednesday night and the pressure goes up another level for the squad as they look to get their tour back on track this evening.
Coach Warren Gatland has named potentially his strongest line-up to date and has included the remainder of his squad yet to start a match, notably Conor Murray and Owen Farrell in the halves and the dynamic Sean O’Brien at openside flanker today.
Damaging prop Tadhg Furlong will add plenty up front in his first start while George North also starts his first match on tour and Lions fans will be hoping he can provide some attacking potency to a misfiring Lions attack so far.
Of course the same challenge remains for this Lions side, strong on paper but with a third different line-up selected, finding rhythm and cohesion will be their challenge and to make it all more challenging, they face the Crusaders, unbeaten in Super Rugby so far in 2017.
Coach Scott Robertson has pulled no punches for this match, resisting calls to rest a few of his All Blacks by naming his strongest available side, Ryan Crotty, Scott Barrett and Kieran Read the only notable absentees through injury.
In what many are dubbing as an unofficial ‘Test’, the Lions will line up against an All Black tight five in what will be an intriguing matchup up front.
The battle between the two second rows will be a highlight while it is not difficult to imagine Matt Todd, the Crusaders openside flanker will have a point to prove, up against O’Brien after missing selection for the All Blacks.
I am particularly looking forward to the clash at centre today, the promising young Crusader Jack Goodhue up against the seasoned pro in Jonathan Davies will be one to keep an eye on while young George Bridge will have his hands full up against North out wide.
I am backing the Crusaders due to their understanding and familiarity as opposed to the Lions today, though I am expecting a more ferocious performance from the tourists as they build towards the Test series.
Crusaders by 6.
Join us here on The Roar as we cover all the action live from 5:35pm AEST and don’t be shy of leaving your comments on the match below!