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The British & Irish Lions tour is approaching the rugby equivalent of Amen Corner. Negotiate the trip’s all-important middle fortnight successfully and anything becomes possible down the closing stretch. Get it wrong and, as with professional golfers who drop shots at Augusta’s pivotal Adidas Brandon Carlo Authentic Jersey holes, it can be hard to restore sufficient equilibrium.

Hence the reason the penultimate midweek game against the Highlanderson Tuesday, before the first Test on Saturday week, carries more significance than might seem obvious at first glance. The Lions badly want to maintain the momentum generated by their victory against the Crusaders and numerous examples exist of spirited ‘dirt-trackers’ playing key roles in successful tours.

It is particularly true in New Zealand, where every Lions performance is mercilessly picked over, whether it involves a second-string team or not. Memories of the 1993 Lions’ heavy midweek defeats by Hawke’s Bay and Waikato still linger and Gavin http://www.authenticbostonbruins.com/authentic-bra... Hastings’ team also lost 37-24 against Otago in the build-up to the first Test. Martin Bayfield, Will Carling and Scott Hastings were all injured and the Test series ended in frustrating defeat.

If there is one key difference today it is that the Lions management are conscious of the mistakes of past expeditions. With two more demanding fixtures against the NZ Maori and the Chiefs also preceding the first Test with the All Blacks at Eden Park, Warren Gatland has made a point of ensuring every player feels at least vaguely in the frame for Test recognition. His assistant coach, Andy Farrell, has also emphasised the need to maintain a positive outlook, rather than be simply remembered as whingeing tourists.

With so little time to prepare and so much to cram in on the training ground, the Lions made a pact before flying out not to be dragged down by negative factors they cannot control. “The one thing we discussed before we left is that there is no bitching or moaning about anything,” Farrell said. “This is the schedule and you get on with it. That is what touring is all about. You have to embrace it. Preparation is never ideal but there will be no whingeing about it on this tour. We will not accept that.”

Instead they have listened to local complaints about scrummaging, refereeing and dull tactics with quiet enjoyment and Farrell’s nonchalant response – “They have to talk about something” – sums up the squad’s collective view that deeds rather than words will define this tour. That applies, from Farrell’s perspective, to the midweek team every bit as much as the Test side. “We enjoyed Saturday and what I would Adidas Drew Doughty Jersey have felt if I was sat in the stand watching is a sense of excitement. I would want to get out there and build on it. It’s about making sure we are going in the right direction and improving until we get to the Test matches.”

Beneath the fixed roof of the Forsyth Barr stadium – the atmospheric modern replacement for the old, forbidding ‘House of Pain’ at Carisbrook – the priority will be to counter the Highlanders’ fast-tempo style which bears similarities to what awaits in the Tests. “We’ve got to be in control of how we want to play the game and be ready for them to hit us at breakneck speed,” said Farrell, who helped to mastermind Ireland’s victory against New Zealand in Chicago last autumn. “This is the type of test we want because that’s exactly what the All Blacks are fantastic at. We want to keep the ball rolling.”

A key element against a Highlanders team who have been scoring an average of four tries per game will be the Lions’ proactive defence, with Farrell still on the lookout for on-field lieutenants capable of constructing an even more impregnable wall. “It ain’t about just sprinting off the line, it’s about adapting to the situation,” Farrell said. “It’s about numbers on feet and covering space. I thought our decision-making was very good last Saturday.

“I’m still looking for defensive leaders. I think everyone should be a leader in defence http://www.authenticlosangeleskings.com/authentic-... because, if somebody messes up, everyone pays for it. I’m still looking for people to grab hold of the system and take it forward. We’ll see who steps up.”

The Lions are keen to underline their attacking ability on a hard, fast track but over the next fortnight much will also hinge on keeping their own try-line intact.
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