Lions..Lions..Lions…oh balls

So the first Lions test has taught us, that however good you think you are, the All Blacks will always be better. That doesn’t for a minute make me think they are not beatable. I think they are but to do so requires accuracy and intensity for 80 minutes. Not in patches. 
A couple of things frustrate me about the way people talk about the All Blacks. Firstly you hear people say “the key to beating New Zealand is you need to put them under pressure.” Well let’s be clear about it. The All Blacks are always under pressure. They are expected to win every game, every time. Anyone who watched the fantastic documentary “Beneath the Black.” By sky sport recently will also realise that if you have made it into the All Blacks team you have been playing under pressure since you were at school. You are used to pressure, you can perform in a pressure environment without a problem. 
To beat the All Blacks is more than putting them under pressure it’s coping with the suffocating pressure they also apply. In defence they are the best team in the world. Im not sure what the stats are but I would love to know how many teams score off of line breaks against New Zealand because it can’t be high. In their 22 they look like a team that’s comfortable being there and happy to watch as team after team try to break through the wall of black. As the pressure increases the teams in attack invariably fall apart as they try to hammer there way through or failing that pass their way around. The white line fever creeps in and as the clock ticks the pressure that should be on the defending side is transferred slowly and relentlessly onto the attacking side. 
So how do you beat them? Look I’ll be honest. I’m in now qualified to tell people playing elite sport what they need to do, but if you look at the opening periods of the game the key seems to be to keep that intensity up, be patient and don’t give up possession unless you really need to. 
Win next week and it’s all to play for but remember should it not go to plan, the Lions will not be the first team to fail in New Zealand and they won’t be the last, but as fans we can always dream of the day they succeed and hope we are alive to witness it.

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