With all the events of the last few days dominating everyone’s thoughts, trudging up to Eden Park last night for an effectively meaningless test match just failed to stir the passions as much as the previous weeks matches.
The rugby served up by the Lions was just as poor as it has been all series so I guess it was no surprise that the All Blacks, even shorn of a few key players like Daniel Carter and Ritchie McCaw, utterly dominated the game and won at a canter.
Kaplan lived up to his increasingly poor reputation as an attention seeker and committed a number of dreadful refereeing errors yet again. If there’s one thing I would like to see come out of this tour then the IRB need to take a good look at the standard of refereeing performances and make those in charge accountable for their actions.
The most disappointing aspect of this game and indeed the series is that the Lions have not even been at the races at all. They haven’t just been completely outplayed by the men in black, they have also not even put up a slight resistance or chance of a fight back. The scorelines in all three of the test matches have been racked up pretty quickly and the Lions haven’t even gone into the last few minutes with something to fight for.
Even in this final game where lessons should have been learnt and the pride in the jersey should have been there, it seemed as though not enough players were fighting it out with all they had in their locker and we ended up trying to score a try as a consolation rather than to haul ourselves back into the match.
It wasn’t always like that however, in the first ten minutes, the Lions threw everything but the kitchen sink at the All Blacks and got their just reward with two penalties kicked by Stephen Jones and Tana Umaga’s cynical sin binning, to much pantomime booing from the jovial Lions fans.
It did however start to go wrong from there on in when Geordan Murphy offered a chance for Conrad Smith to cut inside which he duly took with both hands and crashed over to score their from their first meaningful attack. The second New Zealand try was also similarly disappointing for scrum half Dwayne Peel who received a pass from the base of the ruck and promptly dropped it under little real pressure. Ali Williams seized the opportunity and flopped onto the ball for their second score and both of those had been scored whilst they were a man down. To be honest Umaga could have stayed off all game it wouldn’t have made any difference to the scoreline.
Well it’s all over now and the blackwashed Lions will need to make many changes to their party for their next outing in four years time. If the Lions continue to be uncompetitive like they were last night then it may well sound the death knell for the Lions, which would be a tragedy for rugby history.