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12 Июн 2017 в 04:30am

here is inevitably a battle to be won every time the British & Irish Lions visit the New Zealand stronghold Brandon Tanev Womens Jersey of Canterbury. In the past it was a grimly physical one, not least when Sandy Carmichael and Ray McLoughlin were invalided out of the 1971 tour after the infamously dirty encounter at Lancaster Park. These days it is more of a mental challenge, arguably tougher than any other examination outside the Test arena. The all-powerful Crusaders no longer rely on their fists to intimidate their opponents. Instead they can simply point to this season’s Super Rugby table; the best provincial side in New Zealand are unbeaten in the competition and have been too good for all comers. A Lions victory would cause supporters on all sides to sit bolt upright and reconsider how this tour might pan out. Inside the Lions’ den, accordingly, there has been no effort to downplay the significance of this particular fixture in the wake of Wednesday’s frustrating 22-16 loss to the Blues at Eden Park. In the social media age everyone already has an opinion about these tourists and the virtual noise is tricky to ignore. “You definitely hear it,” said the Wales and Northampton wing George North, preparing to enter the fray for the first time. “You get it and that’s one of the reasons why the Lions tour is so difficult. You have a number of games in close succession; having to ride that rollercoaster of emotion up and down every few days is a massive task.” North speaks with some authority, having played a prominent part in the Lions 2013 series victory over Australia. By the end of that tour he and his team-mates were conquering heroes, but there were assorted ups and downs in between. Listening to the 25-year-old freely admitting this squad needs an on-field boost – “We need to start kicking on now” – is to be reminded that no one cares more intensely than the players about www.officialwinnipegjets.com/Adidas-Bryan-Little-Jersey this expedition’s outcome. Crusaders v Lions: five things to watch out for in third tour match Read more That is certainly North’s belief – “When the boys don’t play as well as they can and don’t get the result there’s no one who feels worse than them” – having watched the Lions splutter rather than surge forwards in week one. The solution has to be collective but, equally, the time has come for the Lions’ big beasts to stir. It has been a while since North carried Israel Folau around on his shoulders for fun; now would be a timely moment to reproduce the form that, on his day, still makes the big Welsh wing an irresistible force. By the sound of it Warren Gatland has been making that point to all concerned since their arrival on the south island. The Blues would not have won without Ihaia West’s memorable late try, cleverly created by Sonny Bill Williams, and a glimmer or two of star quality behind the scrum would not go amiss between now and the first Test in Auckland on 24 June. “I don’t think Warren’s put it on any one individual, he’s put it to us as a squad,” said North, whose scoring rate for the Lions stands at four tries in seven appearancesIf you come to New Zealand you know you’re going to get a lot of X factor coming back at you and we have to deliver some ourselves. We know the challenge is huge and the games are tight. I was touring with Wales last summer and we saw how tough it can be, especially in those last 10 minutes. If we can stay strong in our defence and hold them out then sometimes you need that little bit of X factor either to win games or Connor Hellebuyck Womens Jersey turn games around.” Advertisement There is a perverse argument that losing every remaining fixture en route to the first Test may just prove a cunning ploy if it even vaguely encourages a false sense of security within All Black ranks. That, however, would starkly contrast with the evidence of past Lions tours; while the assistant coach Graham Rowntree still talks about not wishing “to show our full deck of cards” he would take a cheeky win over the Crusaders by whatever available means. For that to materialise the half-back pairing of Owen Farrell and Conor Murray, last seen in the final 14 minutes of the already-won third Test in Sydney four years ago, needs to be instantly rekindled with the forward ball-carriers – Mako Vunipola, Sean O’Brien, Jamie George – also supplying crucial momentum. If Stuart Hogg, Alun Wyn Jones and Peter O’Mahony, among others, are going to be nailed-on Test starters this is the moment to lay down the proverbial marker. With three Saracens in the front five and another at 10 familiarity should be less of an issue and jetlag is no longer a legitimate excuse. The Lions will certainly have to be sharp to subdue the highly rated Crusaders fly-half, Richie Mo’unga, although Rowntree had a ready answer when advised the home coach and former All Black, Leon McDonald, had compared the playmaker to a youthful Dan Carter. “Great,” replied the ever-droll former England loosehead prop. “There will be a few young Dan Carters playing against us on this trip.” Crusaders’ never-say-die spirit and skill level can test Lions to their limit Read more Rowntree is insisting the tour captain, Sam Warburton, is not a long-term injury concern – “He’s going to be all right everyone; remain calm” – after suffering an ankle strain in the opening game. The All Black captain and No8, Kieran Read, is also still sidelined, having ruled himself www.authenticcoloradoavalanche.com/authentic-blake-comeau-jersey  out of next week’s warm-up Test against Samoa. Read has not played since breaking his thumb on 29 April and, at the very least, will be short of match practice should he be selected to start at Eden Park. If that fitness update causes a little more optimism to trickle into Lions hearts it might be wiser to wait a few more hours before getting overly carried away. New Zealand’s talent barrel does not appear in need of urgent scraping and North’s pre-match rallying cry – “It’s good for us to have those challenges along the way for the bigger picture” – has one glaring caveat. At this precise moment the Lions could do without another grisly Canterbury tale



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