As the Full-time whistle was blown in Wellington last Saturday morning (UK Time) history was made. The All Blacks’ 47 game, 8 year unbeaten run at home was brought to an end by the British and Irish Lions, the score 24-21.
The Lions’ corner was assisted early in the first half as Sonny Bill Williams was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson. This is what makes the Lions’ win less impressive, a three point victory against a team with 14 men is poor, though, it does exemplify the All Blacks’ class.
What made it worse was Mako Vunipola’s Yellow card in the second half for yet another Dangerous tackle. The All Blacks’ can feel hard done by with this.
When reviewing a dangerous tackle in a game the Referee and TMO will look at the following criteria:
- Where is the initial contact?
- Is contact made with force?
- Is the player in control?
In Mako’s case the initial contact was with the head, it was at force and was not in control. The referee overruled the TMO’s recommendation of a red card and gave Mako a Yellow card- a big let off for the lions.
On Saturday the Third and Final test match is played. The only previous time that New Zealand have lost a test series was to South Africa in 1937. So it is fair to say that New Zealand will go into Saturday’s decider as firm favourites and are likely to send the Lions packing licking their wounds.
Loosehead: Genge, A Waller, E Waller
Hooker: Thacker, Youngs, Hartley
Tighthead: Hill, Collier, D Wilson
Locks: Kitchener, Barrow, Parling, Attwood, Day
Loose forwards: M.Williams, Robshaw, W.Evans, Waldrom, Hughes, Harrison
Scrum Half: Robson, Wigglesworth, Care
Fly Half: F.Burns, Slade
Wingers: Rokoduguni, Woodburn, Haley, May, Solomona
Centres: Mallinder, Teo, Burrell, Purdy, Devoto
Full Back: Brown, Goode, Foden
Having spent a long time on the sidelines with Knee injuries in recent years Tommy Bowe has suffered yet another injury which could spell the end of his Ireland Career.
Bowe came on in the 79th minute of Ireland’s loss to Wales in Cardiff and was carted off the field with less than a minute of game time gone. It has now been revealed that he has suffered a suspected broken leg.
At the age of 33 and after a career dogged with injuries this new setback is likely to be the end to his long international career.
With their win over Scotland at the weekend, England equalled New Zealand’s record of 18 consecutive victories with 17 of those under Eddie Jones. There is a chance that record will be beaten at the weekend when England play Ireland having already secured the Championship surely the hunger for the Grand Slam and beating New Zealand’s record will inspire a confident England side.
Though despite this record can England claim they really are the World number 1? Well the answer based on rankings is No. In World Rugby’s rankings as of 13th March 2017 New Zealand are top with 94.78 points whilst England are comfortably second on 91.02 points. So the rankings suggest England still have a way to go before beating New Zealand.
New Zealand surrendered their winning run of 18 matches to Ireland back in November 2016 so on that basis if England extend their winning run to 19 matches, surely they would be the best? However don’t expect Ireland to go down without a fight this weekend. they would love nothing more than preventing England breaking that record and from their second consecutive Grand Slam. Ireland also have their World Ranking to worry about as they will want a top 4 spot when the World Cup seeding’s are released.
Then we move onto the other answer which is an inconclusive one. We will never know until England play the All Blacks. With no fixture currently planned with the All Blacks it looks almost as if England are running from the prospect so we may not know until the World Cup where it still isn’t certain they will meet.