Lions tour: Pressure on Lions to make major adjustments for second test video

NZN VIDEO

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen outlines the injury situation after Saturday's test match against the Lions.

OPINION: Five more days seems an age to wait for the second instalment of this engrossing Lions test series but one thing we already know for certain is game two will bring significant changes in tactics and personnel.

With Ben Smith (concussion) and Ryan Crotty (hamstring) out, the All Blacks back-three and midfield come into focus. Midfield is not so much of a concern.

Sonny Bill Williams, after his strong outing on Saturday, will line up inside the classy Anton Lienert-Brown.

Lions coach Warren Gatland may need to majorly mix things up to snag a win in the second test.
GETTY IMAGES

Lions coach Warren Gatland may need to majorly mix things up to snag a win in the second test.

The real interest here comes with which way the All Blacks go on their bench. Rieko Ioane vindicated Steve Hansen's decision to start him over Julian Savea with two tries at Eden Park from the left wing.

Ioane offers midfield cover, having made his test debut there against France in Paris last year, but will get another go on the wing. That leaves rookie Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue, Hurricanes second five-eighth Ngani Laumape and utility Jordie Barrett vying to cover midfield and the back-three from the bench.

READ MORE:
McKenzie gets the call-up
Reason: A test match for the ages
All Blacks overcome Lions in first test
Napier: ABs land emphatic blow 

Ben Smith's concussion concerns mean the All Blacks will be forced to make changes for the second test against the Lions ...
HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

Ben Smith's concussion concerns mean the All Blacks will be forced to make changes for the second test against the Lions in Wellington.

 

Smith's loss is a major one. His third head knock in recent times raises real worries for his on-going availability, and Damian McKenzie's call-up suggests the All Blacks vice-captain won't be back anytime soon.

After Smith departed in the first half at Eden Park, the All Blacks were forced to shift Beauden Barrett to fullback and slot Aaron Cruden in at No 10.

DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT GETTY IMAGES HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES NIGEL MARPLE/REUTERS DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES LAWRENCE SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT DAVID GRAY/REUTERS PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES James Crombie/INPHO HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

The game's end left Lions fans dejected.

The match was an enormous success for the All Blacks.

Rieko Ioane scores his second try.

Sam Whitelock claims a lineout ball.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 24: Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks dives over to score his team's second try during the first test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on June 24, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Sonny Bill Williams is tackled by the Lions.

An injured Ryan Crotty.

A scrum packs down.

The Lions' Liam Williams makes a break for it.

Beauden Barrett tackles the Lions' Jonathan Davies.

Sean O'Brien scores the Lions' first try of the match.

Owen Farrell of the Lions kicks a penalty, to get the Lions on the board.

Codie Taylor of the All Blacks celebrates after scoring a try.

Codie Taylor scores the first try of the match.

Elliot Daly of the Lions is tackled short of the tryline by Israel Dagg.

The All Blacks perform the haka.

The All Blacks line up at the start of the match.

Lions fans roar in the crowd.

Lions coach Warren Gatland smiles before the match.

Lions fans soak up the atmosphere prior to the first test.

The Lions Den Supporters Village, The Cloud, Auckland.

The DHL Lions Series trophy.

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It worked well enough, but the least disruptive move may be to slide Israel Dagg to his favoured role at the back and leave Barrett, the world's best playmaker, to get his hands on the ball as much as possible.

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That would mean Savea, who along with Jordie Barrett and Laumape get chances to impress with the Hurricanes against the Lions on Tuesday night, will go head-to-head with in-form Highlanders finisher Waisake Naholo for the other wing.

Tactically the All Blacks outsmarted the Lions in the memorable 30-15 victory.

The All Blacks celebrated two tries thanks to the efforts of Rieko Ioane.
FIONA GOODALL

The All Blacks celebrated two tries thanks to the efforts of Rieko Ioane.

Peppering the blindside, running the cutter off Aaron Smith, another to shine with continued faith, and taking the direct approach caught the tourists napping.

For all the focus on Conor Murray's accurate box kicks, the combined control from Smith and TJ Perenara when he came on was superb. Talk about executing a gameplan.

The Lions' largely passive approach to the breakdown did not work. They allowed the All Blacks their desired clean, quick ball by not contesting rucks and instead loading the fringes to push for defensive line speed.

The relentless pace the All Blacks adopted was always going to prove too much.  

Warren Gatland may well tweak this area to commit more numbers at the breakdown but then that may open space elsewhere.

Personnel wise the Lions tight-five come in for serious scrutiny, and there are strong suggestions Gatland will start Sam Warburton after he was the first tour captain to be left out of the starting XV since 1930. 

Gatland's decision to bring Maro Itoje off the bench was also widely criticised. His talents seem wasted on the pine.

Veteran lock Alun Wyn Jones and George Kruis troubled the All Blacks' lineout on four occasions but the rolling maul was a non-factor and, elsewhere, they were outmuscled. English lock Courtney Lawes, though battling his own head knock issues, should be pushing hard for inclusion too as Gatland seeks to overhaul his beaten pack. 

The scary thing for Gatland is the All Blacks were far from perfect. While pleased with their discipline which limited Owen Farrell's ability to slot points or kick to the corner, Hansen's men still missed 17 tackles. Many of those stemming from a disjointed kick-chase line.

The All Blacks scrambled well several times to snuff out chances but fullback Liam Williams alone beat three defenders from a brilliant run that began inside his 22 to spark a beautiful try which went through five sets of hands before being finished by Sean O'Brien.

Tangible or otherwise, the reality is the Lions were well beaten in virtually every aspect. They had fewer clean breaks, metres made, turnovers won, rucks and carries.

They haven't beaten the All Blacks since 1993, and Gatland has 12 straight defeats against his homeland; 10 with Wales, one each with Ireland and the Lions.

Where to now?

A response is expected and the presence of French referees in the next two tests will probably favour the Lions. 

Clearly, though, the pressure resides firmly with Gatland. 

Major adjustments are required to save the series in Wellington. 

 - Stuff

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