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New Zealand Lambs to the Slaughter
Posted by southstander on October 28 2005 - 13:38:20


GB make their opening appearance in the Tri Nations tournament tomorrow evening at Loftus Road (KO 18:15).

They are up against a Kiwi side that has impressed (and perhaps surprised) everyone with the quality of their attacking play and big-hitting defence in their opening two fixtures against the Kangaroos. This sees them sitting pretty at the top of the Tri Nations ladder right now on points difference ahead of the Australians.

It is difficult to assess how tomorrow's game is going to pan out, mainly because both camps are keeping their team selections extremely close to their chests. Nobody has the foggiest idea which halfbacks Noble is going to select either. The cynical among us assumed his club biases would prevail and he'd select Harris and Deacon. But with the nineteen named today, it looks like he may select Sinfield and Deacon as the halfback pairing with Burrow on the bench. Who knows what he'll do? I certainly haven't got a clue and I suspect nobody else has a clue either.

There is also a question mark over whether Stacey Jones will play tomorrow night as it's rumoured he's injured. NZ media sources claim it's a 'Mystery Injury' that he's picked up... sounds more like more mind games being played out to me and I fully expect Jones to play. His distribution has been a key element in the Kiwis performances in the tournament thus far and it's been great to see him back wearing the Kiwi Test jumper now that Daniel Anderson has finally departed the scene... no surprises there!

Whatever the team line-ups are, I'm tipping GB to come out on top in a closely-fought encounter... not because I think we've got the better side and the extra class, but more due to the fact that I expect the Kiwis to be hampered and drained somewhat by the long flight over to the UK this week, as well as the bumps and bruises they'll be carrying over from the two tough fixtures they've had against Australia in the past fortnight.

If GB can hold their own against the big Kiwi forwards (Wiki, Rauhihi, Puletua, Asotasi, and the rest) early doors there should be ample opportunities to open them up later in the game when I'd be expecting the Kiwis to tire. However, allow the huge Kiwi pack to dominate early and Stacey Jones will utilise the time and space to rip us apart with his distribution and timely offloads.

GB simply have to ram home their home advantage (and the rest) tomorrow night because a defeat would be an anti-climactic assignation of abbreviated aspirations of the most afflictive kind. Defeat would most likely leave GB with way too much ground to make up on the opposition to reach the Final, and I cannot see them beating the Australians twice.

I'll tip GB to win by about 8 points but certainly not with a greatest deal of confidence.

All five Rhinos are in the nineteen, named as; Rob Burrow, Brian Carney (Vice Captain), Keiron Cunningham, Paul Deacon, Gareth Ellis, Stuart Fielden, Nick Fozzard, Lee Gilmour, Martin Gleeson, Micky Higham, Paul Johnson, Adrian Morley, Jamie Peacock (Captain), Leon Pryce, Keith Senior, Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Thackray, Chev Walker, Paul Wellens.



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