AUCKLAND (Reuters) - Factbox on three key areas that each side need to do in the first British and Irish Lions test against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday.
Be patient and commit defenders in close
The Lions rush defence has been superb for the last 10 days, shutting down options out wide and forcing the opposition across to the touchlines. If the All Blacks can commit more red-shirted defenders close to the breakdown by winning the collisions and getting over the advantage line, their ability to offload in the tackle, change the point of attack and run into space should create issues for the tourists out wide later on.
Get the referee onside
The Lions defence has been one of the key factors in their successes on tour, but they stretch the limits of the offside line, particularly away from the ruck where they have been extremely effective at stopping the ball going wide.
Like many northern hemisphere teams, the visitors also have a tendency when making tackles to fall in such a way that their body gets between the player with the ball and the scrumhalf, slowing down the speed of possession.
Keep their discipline
The Lions goalkickers, Owen Farrell and Leigh Halfpenny, are among the world’s best, if not the best. The All Blacks must ensure they do not give away kickable penalties that will allow the Lions to build scoreboard pressure.
Cut off the supply of clean ball to flyhalf Beauden Barrett
Both the Waikato Chiefs and Canterbury Crusaders deliberately targeted the flow of ball to the Wellington Hurricanes pivot in Super Rugby this year, which stopped him dictating the tempo of the game. It is no surprise the 2016 champions only losses this year have been at the hands of those two teams.
Get the kick chase right
The Lions have been masters at tactical kicking with scrumhalf Conor Murray’s accurate box kicking causing numerous issues. The All Blacks back three will be far better under the high ball, more dangerous on the counter and also more likely to kick it back themselves. The Lions must chase in numbers and shut down their options.
Attack! Attack! Attack!
The world champions are unlikely to be beaten by kicking six penalty goals and the Lions must attempt to score tries. No team has beaten the All Blacks since the 2011 World Cup without crossing at least three times.
So far the tourists have failed to impress in the backline and even when they have broken clear, the skill execution has been poor.
Even if they play a more conservative, forward-based game they need to take a leaf out of Ireland’s playbook from their Chicago victory last year and keep attacking the All Blacks until the 80th minute.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien