Lions tour: British and Irish media react to Lions loss to the Blues
The Lions dropped their first game of their New Zealand tour to the Blues at Eden Park on Wednesday night after a stunning late try to replacement Ihaia West.
It was contest they looked like they had sewn up, and predictably, falling to the weakest of the NZ Super Rugby sides hasn't gone down well with pundits back up north.
Gerard Meagher – Guardian
"With four years of preparation Warren Gatland would not have at his disposal players who offload with the instinctive ability of Sonny Bill Williams or who attack with the grace of Rieko Ioane. To even suggest that the Lions will be in a position to take on anyone in New Zealand at their own game is ludicrous. Gatland’s side, particularly the backs, may lack the X-Factor he speaks of, but they will not find it trying to mimic their opponents.
"The expectation is that the starting XV against the Crusaders will not be far off that for the first Test but if the Blues match was one the Lions dare not lose then what does that make the trip to Christchurch to face the only undefeated side in this year’s Super Rugby competition?"
Austin Healey – Daily Telegraph UK
"So far the Lions’ tactics have been predictable and badly executed, and it makes me worry about what is to come. The Provincial Barbarians and the Blues are the two weakest sides the Lions will face on tour, and we should have had two thumping victories.
"I’m sure the Lions themselves will be shocked at how they have struggled to get going. The problem with the start they have had is that it can create a disconnect between what you are told by the coaches and what you believe in as players. It is hard to buy into a coaching concept when you are losing, and under extreme pressure players can revert to what they know, as happened with some players."
Mick Cleary – Daily Telegraph
"Even if there was some hope in the performance, there was no solace in the result. The 2017 tourists continue to labour, continue to suffer, losing to the weakest of New Zealand’s franchises.
"This was supposed to be a mission to restore credibility, to silence critics and to inject momentum. So much for the desired goals. There is only so much straw-clutching that can be seen as legitimate, the notion that there is room for growth and that the only thing that really counts is the Test series. Yes, but that plea of mitigation can only take you so far. It is hard to drag yourself from the depths if there are losses on the ledger. Brave faces can mask deficiencies.
Jonny Fordham – The Sun
"For the second game running of this 10-game tour Gatland's men were unconvincing and behind at the break – this time there was no Great Escape.
"There can be no sugar-coating this one.
"No jet-lag as an excuse. There is also no getting away from the fact that this could also be 10-games in hell."
Jeremy Guscott – BBC
"There was a lack of continuity, cohesion and understanding.
"There were solo runners heading into contact and that is just meat and drink for these Kiwi defences at the breakdown.
"You can't do that in the tour matches, never mind the Tests.
"They were too narrow in defence, they did not reorganise quickly enough and they coughed up far too many penalties."