Kieran Read spearheads enigmatic New Zealand’s latest surprise against Lions | Paul Rees


The All Blacks proved themselves masters of the unexpected during their 30-15 victory, dominating possession and reducing the Lions to counterattacks

When it comes to the All Blacks, what you see is not always what you get. The Lions had used their pressing game to telling effect against the Crusaders and the Maori, forcing them to play behind the gainline and making offloads hazardous, but by narrowing the point of attack and playing through their scrum-half rather than their outside-half New Zealand were able to recycle ball quickly and dictate the pace of the game.

Analysts play a major role in the preparation of teams, but trying to figure out New Zealand involves journeys up dead ends. The All Blacks are like a batsman in commanding form: move a fielder and the ball will invariably be dispatched into the space vacated. While their overall policy remains the same, manoeuvering the ball into space and giving the ball-carrier options, they are far from one-dimensional and have a mastery of the basics.

Related: New Zealand and Rieko Ioane run away with first Test against Lions

Related: Liam Williams’ 19 seconds of magic inspires Lions but proves false dawn | Andy Bull

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