AUCKLAND (Reuters) - The British and Irish Lions are ready to “create history” at Eden Park on Saturday but know they will need to improve in every facet of the game to beat the All Blacks in the decisive third test, attack coach Rob Howley said on Friday.
Howley said the 24-21 win in Wellington last weekend had instilled a sense of belief in the side that they can become the first Lions party since 1971 to win a test series in New Zealand.
“There has been a glint in their eyes since Saturday night in Wellington -- that glint hasn’t gone away because they know they can create history on the weekend,” he told reporters.
”And that is the challenge and the realisation of where we are at this moment in time.
“There is that focus on the intensity and the challenge that we have got on Saturday. The session this morning there was intensity and there was clarity.”
The task facing the tourists remains Herculean.
The world champions have not lost at Eden Park since France’s Jean-Luc Sadourny scored the “try from the end of the world” to claim a famous victory in 1994, and they last lost two tests in a row anywhere in 1998.
The Lions were presented with a perfect opportunity to record their first test victory in New Zealand last week when Sonny Bill Williams was red carded in the 25th minute.
They almost blew the chance though, needing a late Owen Farrell penalty to get over the line and end New Zealand’s eight-year unbeaten run at home.
It still may not have happened had All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett not missed three of his 10 place-kicks and Howley said cutting down on the number of penalties was just one of the areas the Lions had to improve on.
”We think we are getting there, but we can get better and we need to improve on the weekend,“ he added. ”The challenge for us is to learn from last week, we want to keep pressure on the All Blacks.
”We put ourselves in a bit of a hole and we got ourselves out through our experience, and our clarity and thinking under pressure.
“We want to get better in every component of the game which will be asked of us on Saturday.”
Howley expects it to be an extremely tight game despite dry weather forecast for Auckland with very few try scoring opportunities.
The former Wales and Lions halfback was therefore heartened by the two tries the tourists had managed in wet conditions in Wellington.
“By the very nature of the game there are going to be one or two chances -- we have spoken about it being a World Cup final -- and we have to take them,” Howley said.
“It was really difficult conditions last Saturday and I was really delighted with our intent.”
Writing by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien