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Kiwi reputations rubbed in the dirt

There are a few reputations that were rubbed into the dirt of the North Harbour Stadium in Albany at the weekend … not that the New Zealanders would have noticed.

You have to wonder why they can – with the exception of a few balanced commentators – never just accept defeat against a South African team.

If it is not Suzy, then it is the referee or some other great injustice. The South African team NEVER wins, the Kiwis always lose.

By most accounts South African teams don't have the right, or deserve, to win against opposition from New Zealand.

If you read Gregor Paul's match report in the Herald on Sunday, you would realise exactly why the star-studded Blues team dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard.

Yes, the knives are being sharpened for coach John Kirwan, but attitude has a lot to do with winning games and nowhere was it more evident that in Albany at the weekend.

Despite the Lions' courageous and dauntless defensive effort – which won them the match – the New Zealand media (or at least Paul) refused to accept that the men from Johannesburg belonged on the same stage as their esteemed team.

"A home defeat to the Lions – that's as bad as it gets," was one of the dismissive remarks in the wake of the visitors' 13-10 win in this Super Rugby basement battle.

"The Lions were relentlessly awful. Exactly what purpose they were there to serve wasn't easy to tell. If their goal was simply to make up the numbers, then they needed to reassess – as they fell short. Devoid of any known players, any real ambition or direction, the Lions were relentlessly awful," Paul added.

Kiwi reputations rubbed in the dirtKiwi reputations rubbed in the dirtHe was correct about one thing – the Blues had all the reputations and experience.

However, the Lions had all the heart and desire.

The Blues had just short of 300 Tests worth of international experience in their matchday squad – including seasoned and established All Blacks like Keven Mealamu (who set a new Super Rugby record of 163 caps), Jerome Kaino and Jimmy Cowan.

The Lions had just six Tests, spread between three players, none of who can be regarded as regulars or players likely to feature at the World Cup this year.

Like Mr Paul, maybe the Blues did indeed believe they only needed to turn up to win.

Another noteworthy statistic. The Blues pack outweighed the Lions forwards by 70 kilograms – that is 8.75kg per man.

It is a massive difference, illuminated by the massive chasm in possession and territory in the match.

For the first hour the Blues had more than 80 percent of the possession and territory. By the end of the match they still had more than 60 percent in terms of possession and almost 75 percent territory.

The Lions, after going close without winning against two of the competition's unbeaten teams – the Hurricanes and Stormers – in the opening weeks, finally got the win that may get the players to believe in their own ability.

The statistics of the match – as shown below – perfectly highlight how much more the Lions wanted the win, the exact extent of their desire!

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Hamish Northcott.Kiwi reputations rubbed in the dirt

Internationally capped players

Keven Mealamu (123 caps)

Jerome Kaino (56 caps)

Jimmy Cowan (52 caps)

Charlie Faumuina (27 caps)

Steven Luatua (14 caps)

Charles Piutau (14 caps)

Patrick Tuipulotu (7 caps)

Francis Saili (two caps)

Frank Halai (one cap)

James Parsons (one cap)

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corne Fourie.

Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Howard Mnisi.

Kiwi reputations rubbed in the dirt

Internationally capped players

Julian Redelinghuys (two caps)

Warren Whiteley (two caps)

Elton Jantjies (two caps)

By Jan de Koning

@King365ed

@rugby365com

Kiwi reputations rubbed in the dirtKiwi reputations rubbed in the dirtKiwi reputations rubbed in the dirtKiwi reputations rubbed in the dirtKiwi reputations rubbed in the dirtKiwi reputations rubbed in the dirt

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