Now that the All Blacks have stomped on the face of the British and Irish Lions, let us have a better look at what happened during those three brilliant games.
First, congratulations to the All Blacks. The game they developped in all three games is simply the best I have ever seen. The most complete, entertaining yet absolutely serious and rigorous at all positions. They attacked on every ball they had, sometimes from their own goal line, for long and well-organised sequences of play. Absolutely beautiful.
Stand-outs: well, difficult to say since all the Kiwis played an absolutely superb game. Carter was a show of its own, but I am more impressed by the third row. So'oialo, first and foremost, although McCaw gets all the attention.
But I am puzzled by the performance (or lack thereof) of what should be the best team in the world, aka the Lions.
First, Woodward's choices. When you have to select among such a deep talent pool, there are usually two courses of action one responsible coach can pursue. Either you put the best players at each position and hope they all gel, or you put players who are used to playing together, even if they are not the best individual talents.
Both strategies can work.
But it looks like Woodward tried to find a middle of the road solution that, obviously, provided with miserable results.
Peel and Wilkinson at halves? Greenwood and Thomas at center? Dawson and Jones? Come on.
I cannot understand why O'Gara never had a chance to play. Why Peel? Dawson seems far superior. Why did D'Arcy never get his opportunity? Same for Martyn Williams.
When you look at how well Carter+Umaga+Mauger/Smith played together, it is clearly at 10-12-13 that the game was won. A Henson-Shanklin or D'Arcy-BOD
(when healthy) combo would have been more logical.
To the Lions' credit, they never let go up front. They were dominated, but the forwards still provided a few good balls, and supported their three quarters on defence.
I think Lewis Moody was the best Lion of the series. Devastating tackles, big presence in support, lots of heart and skills. The third row in general played well (once Corry and Hill were discarded) in tough circumstances.
Lining up Shane Williams against Sivivatu was suicide.
Well, lots of mistakes, but credits to the forward pack.
Your assessment (Banco, WhiteHatter, ZS
, and all the rugby nuts here should show up with some comments...)!