Now that was a better contest last night. Power, precision passion, and even a few punches, treated appropriately by the match officials too. All good to see, as was Graham Henry completely unable to keep an all-encompassing smirk of victory off his face in the after-match interview. Wonderful to see and he deserved every inch of his gloating, as did Tana Umaga's quiet pleasure at his try against the team that spent a week bleating about him. Good karma.
Because really there was only one team out there playing well; despite coach Woodward calling the Lions performance "great," it wasn't. It was great only by comparision with their pathetic performance last weekend, but compared with some of the truly great performances of previous Lions teams -- and of course by last night's All Black team -- it only passes muster in the space between Clive Woodward's ears. "Best prepared Lions team ever" my arse.
Despite the enjoyment of last night however, the series has frustratingly not lived up to the expectations we had of it; it hasn't been anything like that truly competitive contest the 2001 Lions had with Australia. The Lions players aren't up to it -- not one would make a First XV picked from those on display last night -- and Clive Woodward is now exposed as not being a coach's arsehole, and ungracious with it.
So perhaps for the last test we can help the Lions out in order to make it a contest to remember. To even it up we could lend them a few players and let them play with seventeen on the park. Marty Holah and Nick Evans might like the run, and Joe Rocoko could also do with a gallop, and he does know Eden Park. Could be fun for everyone.
And lending them a real coach might help them. Getting the Lions 0ut from under Woodward's tangled web would be a bonus for everyone.