Lions face tough­est test

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

HOW much have the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions learned in the space of a week?

The an­swer to that ques­tion will de­ter­mine whether the 2017 team send their se­ries against the All Blacks into a third and de­cid­ing Test – or if they re­turn home with the same un­wanted out­come as 11 of the 12 Lions teams that have toured New Zealand be­fore them.

Coach War­ren Gat­land’s ( pic­tured) fate will be de­ter­mined in to­day’s sec­ond rugby Test in Welling­ton.

He and his team have spo­ken of their des­per­a­tion to prove they are bet­ter than the 30- 15 first- Test loss in Auck­land, where they had planned to im­pose them­selves phys­i­cally on the world cham­pi­ons.

In­stead, it worked the other way, with Gat­land out­coached on the night by Steve Hansen, who had his All Blacks run­ning hard and close to the ruck, re­lent­lessly turn­ing the tourists around.

“In fair­ness, they played ex­cep­tion­ally well against us,” Gat­land said.

“The guys would have gained a lot from that. We’ve ex­pe­ri­enced it now and we should cope bet­ter with it.”

Cap­tain Sam War­bur­ton re­turns as skip­per, giv­ing the Lions two open­side flankers, while start­ing lock Maro Itoje is also a mo­bile pres­ence at the break­down.

And they now boast twin play­mak­ers in Johnny Sex­ton and Owen Far­rell.

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