Keith Wood: New Zealand beat the Lions at their own game

The former Ireland captain was speaking to Ivan Yates

BY Simon Maguire 17:20 Sunday 25 June 2017, 17:20 25 Jun 2017

A general view of a ruck. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Former Ireland captain Keith Wood has praised New Zealand for changing their style of play and beating the Lions while playing a northern hemisphere type of game. 

Wood felt it was always going to be a difficult tour given the scheduling. "It's a very tough tour," he told Ivan Yates on Yates on Sunday, adding: "That we are not managing right or getting it right but I think we're going to see an improvement - I hope we are going to get an improvement for next week.

"When I looked at it from the scheduling, from all the way back, I thought it was a joke of a schedule that doesn't give an opportunity for a team to gel properly. 

"I thought the Lions were well beaten on the scoreboard, well beaten on possession and territory stakes and yet, with 30 minutes to go, were fully in the game. And, having not done an awful lot particularly well, were in the game and then got blown away at the end of it. And I do think the scoreline reflected what happened," he added.

Wood toured twice with the Lions: the winning series in 1997 in South Africa and the losing effort in Australia four years later, and believes the tourists have to take their chances if they want to level the series next weekend.

"The thing that's upsetting about the Lions is they're not taking their chances," he said. "The All Blacks made three chances at the weekend and scored three tries.  The Lions made six or seven and scored two. We need to take every single opportunity we have there.

Lions' Kyle Sinckler is tackled by Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Whitelock of New Zealand. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"We just don't seem to be expecting to break their gain-line and, because of that, we get over it but we don't offload or we don't have anybody running on the shoulder. That puts us under a fair bit of pressure because we're not taking the ones we get. 

"I don't know if you go for wholesale changes," he said, adding: "And I definitely don't think that that first game was a must-win. Like, you'd love to win it but the All Blacks have not lost for 23 years on that ground. Whatever aura they've managed to build-up within it - they are so comfortable and confident in that ground," he added.

The former Lion also commended the All Blacks for how they approached the match tactically, saying: "They played a style they never play. Last Saturday they played a northern hemisphere style and our players were giving away penalties. Our players were complaining about our discipline.

New Zealand All Blacks’s TJ Perenara. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"Because we weren't slowing the ball down, when we did, we were we were getting penalised. We were getting further penalised down the line for being offside because of their speed. I mean, they were going left and right, left and right, and they never ever play like that - which is a huge complement to New Zealand. And, we can be critical of the Lions but you do have to admire brilliance and genius when you see it. 

"They turfed out their playbook they use all the time which is loose and attacking from everywhere and trusting their skills and decided to go for pure grunt. They did it well and did it better than the Lions," he added. 

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