Lions tour: Opinion - Four match-ups to watch

Kieran Read (left) Taulupe Faletau (right).
Kieran Read (left) Taulupe Faletau (right). Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: After the All Blacks got the better of the Lions in the first Test, the second Test represents an opportunity for the visitors to get one back.

Here are four match-ups that could determine whether we go to a decider or not in Auckland next week.

1. Owen Franks vs Mako Vunipola

Tipped as one of the best props in the game, Mako Vunipola was expected to dominate his All Blacks counterpart Owen Franks in Auckland. However, Franks showed he was also one of the best in the business. While he didn't necessarily dominate Vunipola in the opening Test, he very much kept him under wraps.

The two will resume their battle in the scrum and, with a French referee potentially bringing with him different interpretations and calls, we're set for fireworks.

The scrum was an area the Lions expected to dominate.
The scrum was an area the Lions expected to dominate. Photo credit: Getty

2. Brodie Retallick vs Maro Itoje

Two of the best locks in the game, the interesting feature of this battle is that Maro Itoje has more or less modelled his game on Brodie Retallick's.

Retallick was massive in the first Test and you can expect more of the same from him.

In contrast, after being on the bench last week, Itoje will be aching to get a chance at the best team in the world and with his skill set, he does has the ability to sting the All Blacks.

3. Kieran Read vs Taulupe Faletau

Kieran Read was by far and away the best player on the park last week, with Taulupe Faletau hardly seen. Running off nine with confidence, the All Blacks captain got over the gain line almost every time.

On the other hand, Faletau will have copped a bollocking during the week about the lack of physicality he showed and his meek ball-carrying.

4. Sonny Bill Williams vs Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell's inclusion at 12 this week instead of 10 will have raised many eyebrows, particularly when you consider who he'll be facing opposite - Sonny Bill Williams. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will be too clever to just form a game style focused around Williams just running at 12, because Farrell is defensively sound.

It could be an All Blacks ploy for Sonny Bill Williams to run at Owen Farrell, but it wouldn't be a primary one.
It could be an All Blacks ploy for Sonny Bill Williams to run at Owen Farrell, but it wouldn't be a primary one. Photo credit: Getty

But there's every chance he could use it as a decoy.

On the other side of the park, look for Farrell to attempt to isolate Williams in the midfield to unleash Liam Williams out the back.

Newshub.

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Email
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Viber Share to WhatsApp Share to Email