Bay of Plenty v British & Irish Lions
Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
Saturday 4th June 2005
KO: 7.10pm local time (8.10am BST)
Referee: Paul Honiss (NZ)
Touchjudges: Steve Walsh (NZ), Kelvin Deaker(NZ)
Television Official: Paddy O’Brien (NZ)
With the first match of the tour behind us and the players and coaching staff settling in down in New Zealand, attentions now turn to the first match of the New Zealand tour against Bay of Plenty.
Sir Clive Woodward has chosen a strong side to face the openers and following an abject performance against the Argentines before departing these shores, he will be looking for a marked improvement against a side considered no push over.
Easy opening fixtures like the opening tour match four years ago against Western Australia XV where the Lions put over a ton past their hosts are nothing like what the Lions will experience when they take to the field for the first time in New Zealand.
Bay of Plenty are an experienced rugby outfit performing well both in the NPC reaching the semi finals and also are the current holders of the coveted Ranfurly Shield. With ten of their contingent performing well in the Super 12, nine with the Waikato Cheifs, the Steamers are likely to provide stiff opposition for the Lions.
As is the case for many of the midweek matches, the Kiwi players will only get one shot at playing the Lions in their careers and starting on Saturday it is the chance of the men from the Bay and they are intent on taking it.
O’Driscoll, Dallaglio and co will have to start performing from the word go if they are going to see any kind of return out of this game, and indeed tour. The Lions do have the fire power in their locker and they are perhaps a little underrated due to the underwhelming performance of the side last week, but that will be put behind them as they look to set the tone for the tour to come.
Our Lions-Tour.com prediction is for the Lions to win a hard fought and close game by 8 points.