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England popped down to Queenstown for a spot of relaxation during the 2011 Rugby World Cup things did not end well. No one, however, can possibly begrudge the 2017 British & Irish Lions some deserved rest and recuperation following their famous 24-21 win over New Zealand in Wellington. At 1-1 the series remains gloriously alive and all they are looking to throw is a victory party after Saturday’s decisive third Test in Auckland. In the meantime, between the jet boating and team bonding, the players could do worse than follow the advice of Psalm 121 and lift up their eyes unto the hills above the spectacular 84km long Lake Wakatipu. The range is known as The Remarkables and a similar title could yet be affixed to this touring squad should they wrongfoot the All Blacks again and nick the series at Eden Park. Even during a rare defeat, the depleted All Blacks looked a formidable force Gerard Meagher Read more By general consent among those www.officialblazershop.com/authentic-27-jusuf-nurkic-jersey.html lucky enough to be in the stadium, Saturday’s match was among the most compelling and thrilling oval-ball occasions of recent times. Watching the ‘Miracle in the Cake Tin’ again on television two things repeatedly stood out: the impassioned support the team received from their travelling sea of red, and the light drizzle in which the game was apparently taking place. The former was thunderously real, the latter a complete optical illusion. Conditions were often horrendous, so much so that both sides did well to attempt anything remotely creative. This may account for some of the contradictory verdicts delivered from warm, dry sofas in both hemispheres. To say the Lions were fortunate to win a low-standard game is akin to criticising a South Africa spinner for not taking five wickets before lunch on the first day of a Lord’s Test. Considering the pressure Sam Warburton’s team were under before kick-off – 80 minutes away from series oblivion in the world champions’ backyard – their defiance was, well, remarkable. If competing against 14 men for 55 minutes clearly helped, the All Blacks still take an awful lot of beating at home. A quick flick back through the record books reveals New Zealand have lost successive home Tests only three times in more than a century – in 1937 to South Africa, in 1994 to France and in 1998 to South Africa and Australia. Even the triumphant 1971 Lions could not achieve the feat, winning the four-match series 2-1 after drawing the final Authentic Al-Farouq Aminu Womens Jersey Test 14-14 in Auckland. There is hurt pride and then there is the savage, iron will of an All Black looking to atone for his sins. Which is precisely why the Lions management have been seeking to dampen down expectations, fully aware New Zealand are far from down and out. In terms of improvement they need look no further than Saturday’s third quarter, when they almost threw away their golden ticket back into the series. By getting overexcited and gifting easy territory and possession to the All Blacks, the Lions found themselves 18-9 behind with 21 minutes left, a deficit they would have struggled to overhaul had Beauden Barrett not missed three kickable penalties in total. Graham Rowntree, the Lions assistant coach, did not mince his words on the subject before the squad flew to the South Island. “We have got to sort it out because it is going to kill us,” the former Lions and England prop said. “It is all about what you do in the heat of the battle under fatigue and you can’t be doing it. We have to keep reiterating that point to the players.
Sean O’Brien cleared for Lions decider while Williams gets four-week ban Read more “We can’t lose Amos Youth Jersey a Test series on the back of some stupid penalties. That would be unacceptable. How do you live with that for the rest of your life? There’s a series on the line. We’ve got some great rugby players; the best rugby players in the home nations and they’ve had a taste of it. Now let’s get this done. Let’s raise our game again.” That will not be easy for, among others, Maro Itoje, Sean O’Brien, Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones and Taulupe Faletau. In contrast to the opening Test there was a bristling intent to everything the Lions did in the first and last quarters, with the 10-12 axis of Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell also asking questions before tries from Faletau and Conor Murray and Farrell’s nerveless place-kicking belatedly saw the All Blacks overtaken. Rowntree, regardless, suspects there will be “a massive reaction” from the home side, who last lost a Test match at Eden Park in 1994. “They don’t normally make so many mistakes and they’ll be hurting as we were last week. Advertisement “So we’re expecting a reaction at Eden Park. But we’re driven on by our game and our standards and wanting to get this done. We kept ourselves alive with that performance and we’re still in it going into the third game. The decider.” Depending on the injury bulletins – and the Lions’ medical team suggest there are no serious problems – the lengthiest selection debate may well surround Mako Vunipola, whose composure began to fray in the second www.officialcapitalsauthentic.com/Justin_Williams_Jersey half just when his side needed calmness. His uncompromising 56th-minute clear-out of Barrett earned a deserved yellow card and Warren Gatland will have to reconsider whether, in the team’s best interests, he is better utilised as an impact sub rather than a starter. Kyle Sinckler, forceful as ever in the closing phases, was also involved in an ugly spat with TJ Perenara following the final whistle. Rowntree, without pointing any fingers, did not entirely rule out the possibility of ill-disciplined players being omitted if the management deem them too much of a risk. “Gats has shown he’s not afraid of doing that if that’s what it takes. We’ll just be very frank with the lads. The pictures are undeniable, some of them. “But I don’t think there’s an issue there. It’s an emotional, physical game. Tempers got a bit out of control maybe. That happens; the game was that intense, wasn’t it?” True, but this Saturday will be bigger still and a 15-man New Zealand team will be a rather harder nut to crack