Lions Tour 2017: Auckland Blues v British and Irish Lions Preview

Betting-preview-for-the-British-and-Irish-Lions-Tour-match-against-the-Auckland-Blues

After a poor showing in their Tour opener, the Lions will be looking for much-improved performance when they take on a quality Blues side this Wednesday morning.

The British and Irish Lions second tour assignment looks a whole lot trickier than the first, with an All Black-laden Blues side lying in wait at Eden Park. The tourists were absolutely dire in their opener against the Provincial Barbarians and were lucky to limp away from Toll Stadium with a victory to their names.

Auckland Blues v B&I Lions | Wednesday 7 June | Eden Park | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Blues 19/10 | Draw 20/1 | Lions 4/10
Handicap
Blues (+6.5) 9/10 | Lions (-6.5) 9/10

Blues
Make no bones about it, this is a quality Blues side who will have the shackles well and truly off with the rigours of Super Rugby out of the way for the next six weeks. No fewer than eight All Blacks will line up against the home nations best this Wednesday. And with All Black Test spots on the line, you can bet the Blues boys will be looking impress.

One man who will be aiming to catch the eye of All Black mentor Steve Hansen is young gun Rieko Ioane. The 20-year-old, who made his All Black debut at the close of last year, has been in sensational form in Super Rugby scoring 10 tries thus far. And while he faces a lot of competition for one of the wing berths or the outside centre slot, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the bench for at least one of the All Blacks Tests against the Lions. His personal duel with Elliot Daily on Wednesday is going to be one for the ages.

Another battle to get excited about is between Charlie Faumuina and Jack McGrath. Both men are solid scrummagers but it is in the loose where I expect both of them to make a mark. Big Charlie has basically been playing as a secondary fly-half for the Blue this season, while McGrath is a monster when it comes to carrying ball.

Prop love and exaggerations aside, the Blues are sure to take an attacking mentality into this one. They will look to run from all quarters and put the Lions backs under massive pressure from the word go. This tactic may just reap dividends and I can see the Blues having the lead at half-time.

Lions
Well, that was an hour and 20 minutes of my life I won’t get back. To say I was disappointed with the Lions' showing in their opener against the Provincial Barbarians would be the understatement of the century. Forget jet lag, forget passionate opposition and forget combinations needing time to gel, what the Lions produced last Saturday was nothing short of a horror show. Yes, the ‘ref’ was a shocker and the Lions did have a few tries go unawarded due to poor officiating, but they had so many chances to cut the Provincial Barbarians apart that they let go begging. They will need to up their game ten-fold if they are to beat a Blues side that contains a plethora of All Blacks.

Warren Gatland has changed his entire starting line-up for this one with the biggest changes seeing Dan Biggar come in at ten for Johnny Sexton and Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes form a new lock pairing. I’m actually rather puzzled by Gatland’s selections if I’m being honest. It’s almost if he’s gone the South African route and thrown a few attacking player’s in with a host of more conservative operators. His midfield of Henshaw and Payne are really resolute on defence but Irish fans will tell you that they don’t score many tries when Payne starts in the centres. I like the looks of Jack Nowell and Elliot Daily on the wings, but I doubt they’ll get much ball from a midfield who are likely to go the crash ball route rather than throw the outside pass.

Despite Gatland’s selection Faux Paus, his side should still have the better of the Blues if they opt to play the territory game. Yes, the Blues are capable of scoring from deep but they are just as capable of coughing up ball in their own 22. If the Lions kick for the corners and look to use their set piece dominance, then they should be able to keep the Blues at arm’s length. However, if they decide to get involved in a game of touch, then they are likely to come off second best against an outfit who have taken the old ' we may concede a few but we will simply score more than you' approach to Super Rugby.

Verdict: Blues (+6.5) 9/10
Yes, the Lions have the quality to put twenty points past the Blues but I don’t see them achieving that here. The Aucklanders will concede at least one try from the rolling maul and the Lions are likely to bag a few three-pointers from Blues ill-discipline, but the Blues will also bag a few five-pointers of their own. I recommend a moderate strike on the plus here.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net!

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