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The Unforgiving New Zealand Media Reaction To The Lions' First Defeat

The Unforgiving New Zealand Media Reaction To The Lions' First Defeat
By Balls Team Updated
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After an unconvincing win over the Barbarians on Saturday, the Lions have fallen at the second hurdle, suffering a late defeat against The Blues. The Lions looked like that had secured a win, but a stunning try in the 74th minute from Ihaia West claimed a win for the New Zealand side.

The Lions made mistakes, failing to convert scoring chances in the first half but ultimately, the Blues were sharper, proving the better side, and the media in New Zealand agrees.

In the aftermath of the first Lions test of their series against New Zealand 12 years ago, there was a feeling emanating from the New Zealand media and the All Blacks that they were wronged. Their performance was rightly overshadowed by the shocking spear tackle on Brian O'Driscoll by Kevan Mealamu and Tana Umaga.

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In a somewhat classless opening paragraph for his Stuff.co.nz report on the game, Mark Reason recalled that night and called today's game at Eden Park a night of redemption for now Blues coach Tana Umaga.

The Lions looked like they might escape, but the Blues picked them up, held them in the air and speared the body into the ground. This was Tana Umaga's night of redemption. This was the moment when he can finally move on from that moment of brutality 12 years ago.

Though he sees the merits of 'Warrenball', mainly its simplicity, Gregor Paul, writing for the New Zealand Herald, has questions about how fair it can get this Lions team.

But the essence of their game remains bump and thump and the question that is going to become louder and louder for the Lions, is where is the x-factor?

Warrenball gets them close but it needs something extra to actually win games.

Who is going to give them the magic offload, or unforgettable step to break a defence with something other than brute force?

They talked during the week about the emphasis they have placed on chaos - creating it and thriving in it. But from what has been seen so far from them, they are well out of their comfort zone.

Stuff.co.nz's Liam Napier highlighted a possible lack of fitness in the Lions squad.

On a wet Auckland night, the Lions also showed their hand and potentially lack of aerobic fitness by attempting to slow the pace at every opportunity - walking slowly to each lineout especially.

Mark Hinton for Stuff.co.nz labelled this Lions team as 'clunky' and suggested that Wednesday was just the first of what could be numerous 'significant hits'.

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The British and Irish Lions wanted chaos, and now they will have it after falling at their first hurdle of note on this problematic tour of New Zealand. The Blues, with a special display, have not only made history, but lodged a hefty spanner in the works of the clunky touring machine.

The fallout will be massive from this 22-16 defeat in front of a big crowd of over 40,000 at Eden Park. Not so much from the Lions management who will utter all the right noises in the wake of a match that, really, could have gone either way. But the criticism from the massive northern media pack in tow will be deafening, and the confidence and momentum of the touring outfit, heading into the toughest test in the game, will have taken the first of what may be a number of significant hits.

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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