The Lion Kings

Featuring the hit songs Circle of Strife and You Won’t Be Feeling Our Love Tonight

Featuring the hit songs Circle of Strife and You Won’t Be Feeling Our Love Tonight

New Zealand All Black Fullback/Captain Ben Smith performs the Haka during the Pasifika Challenge clash between the All Blacks and Samoa at Eden Park on Friday night in Auckland. New Zealand Herald Photo

SO, in the space of four days, many now think the Lions are more like Simba than Garfield.

A win over an underdone New Zealand Maori team and stonkering of a bumbling Chiefs second-string outfit have steered the catamaran of Kiwi confidence towards a whirlpool of worry.

Add to that the forecast for rain and suddenly Eden Park is sprouting Oxalis-like weeds of doubt despite the fact it has been a rose garden of glory for the All Blacks since 1994.

Did we seriously think the Lions would be a pushover?

Who out there ever believed they would come over here with the battle plan of beating the world champions at their own game?

Tonight will be a collision of styles.

Weather dependent, the ABs will look to — roll out the new-age mumbo jumbo — “express” themselves while the Lions will stick to what conquered the Crusaders, NZ Maori and the Chiefs.

And if the stars align in perfect order, the Lions can win this.

They may not have our on-tap supply of razzle-dazzle, high-octane Cirque du Soleil performers produced through genetics and honed in the backyard and school playing fields, but what they do, they do well.

And going on their inevitable improvement over the tour, expect them to do it well tonight.

The potential problem for the Lions is that if the ABs do what they do well, they will win. History, bar Ireland’s outstanding history-making performance last year, supports this.

So without needing to ring the psychic hotline or showing the palm to Madame Zelda, here’s what will definitely happen tomorrow night —

  • The Lions will stick to script. Rush defence, high kicks and spoil tactics because they know the ABs will try to “express” themselves.
  • The All Black haka will have the kids going pukana hard but will not raise the hairs on the back of the neck anywhere near the extent of that stunning NZ Maori performance in Rotorua on Saturday.
  • Beauden Barrett will do something brilliant.
  • The referee will give a perplexing scrum penalty, or three.
  • If Owen Farrell is interviewed after the game, none of us will understand a word he says.
  • If the Lions lose, Warren Gatland will complain about All Black illegalities.
  • If the Lions win, former Gisborne man David Hair will wear a “told you so look” for the rest of the week over in Aussie’s Northern Territory because he’s my only Facebook mate who is picking the ABs to lose — 15-12. “Head not heart, Lions too strong in the forwards”.
  • If the All Blacks lose, the pressure will mount significantly on Emirates Team New Zealand.
  • Both teams will use blocking tactics because, hello, everyone does. And if you really want to see blocking at its best/worst, watch a replay of State of Origin II.
  • Glenn Osborne’s valiant Tutira Mai campaign will be drowned out by Lions fans because, let’s face it folks, no one chants better than the Brits.

SO, in the space of four days, many now think the Lions are more like Simba than Garfield.

A win over an underdone New Zealand Maori team and stonkering of a bumbling Chiefs second-string outfit have steered the catamaran of Kiwi confidence towards a whirlpool of worry.

Add to that the forecast for rain and suddenly Eden Park is sprouting Oxalis-like weeds of doubt despite the fact it has been a rose garden of glory for the All Blacks since 1994.

Did we seriously think the Lions would be a pushover?

Who out there ever believed they would come over here with the battle plan of beating the world champions at their own game?

Tonight will be a collision of styles.

Weather dependent, the ABs will look to — roll out the new-age mumbo jumbo — “express” themselves while the Lions will stick to what conquered the Crusaders, NZ Maori and the Chiefs.

And if the stars align in perfect order, the Lions can win this.

They may not have our on-tap supply of razzle-dazzle, high-octane Cirque du Soleil performers produced through genetics and honed in the backyard and school playing fields, but what they do, they do well.

And going on their inevitable improvement over the tour, expect them to do it well tonight.

The potential problem for the Lions is that if the ABs do what they do well, they will win. History, bar Ireland’s outstanding history-making performance last year, supports this.

So without needing to ring the psychic hotline or showing the palm to Madame Zelda, here’s what will definitely happen tomorrow night —

  • The Lions will stick to script. Rush defence, high kicks and spoil tactics because they know the ABs will try to “express” themselves.
  • The All Black haka will have the kids going pukana hard but will not raise the hairs on the back of the neck anywhere near the extent of that stunning NZ Maori performance in Rotorua on Saturday.
  • Beauden Barrett will do something brilliant.
  • The referee will give a perplexing scrum penalty, or three.
  • If Owen Farrell is interviewed after the game, none of us will understand a word he says.
  • If the Lions lose, Warren Gatland will complain about All Black illegalities.
  • If the Lions win, former Gisborne man David Hair will wear a “told you so look” for the rest of the week over in Aussie’s Northern Territory because he’s my only Facebook mate who is picking the ABs to lose — 15-12. “Head not heart, Lions too strong in the forwards”.
  • If the All Blacks lose, the pressure will mount significantly on Emirates Team New Zealand.
  • Both teams will use blocking tactics because, hello, everyone does. And if you really want to see blocking at its best/worst, watch a replay of State of Origin II.
  • Glenn Osborne’s valiant Tutira Mai campaign will be drowned out by Lions fans because, let’s face it folks, no one chants better than the Brits.
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