Partisan supporters will surge into Eden Park with buckets of emotion boosting their hopes about the All Blacks-Lions series while the players will target a controlled display daubed with concentrated passion.

Six years ago the same stadium was rocking with massive conviction about the All Blacks winning the World Cup.

They had comfortably seen off France in pool play but the rematch turned into a trapdoor of uncertainty until referee Craig Joubert ended the 8-7 anxiety.

That same apprehension about the All Blacks has not reappeared at Eden Park. Not until now. In 2013, France returned without the same resolve and England pushed hard for an hour in 2014 but neither had enough polish to knock over the host's lengthy unbeaten sequence at the stadium.


What a change in the fortnight since the All Blacks began this series with a 30-15 victory on the same grass rectangle.

They took an early lead and the Lions never looked like reeling in a deficit despite Sean O'Brien scoring the try of the series.

The nationwide appraisal found the Lions brought more on every front compared to the 2005 version but there was a feeling the All Blacks would have too much quality to surrender any series high ground.

The Cake Tin and the vigour of Lions changed all that, eventually, as they found another gear in rough conditions to level the series.

Now New Zealand is riven with all that 2011 World Cup final angst and the fragmented uncertainty, similar to that which the Lions provoked in 1993.

Doubts fuelled that series decider as Laurie Mains rejigged his side and called in specialist coaching assistance to help repel the Lions' charge at history.

A similar pattern is unfolding as injury and suspension has caused Steve Hansen to alter his All Blacks side while the Lions have stuck with the same group who squared the series.

A Frenchman, Patrick Robin, refereed the decider in '93 when the All Blacks answered the heat and countryman Romaine Poite is in charge of this series' sudden death decider.


He is not afraid to sinbin players and has carded four All Blacks in all nine tests they have won under his control.

They got a first warning about him when they ran into him in a tour match against Munster at Thomond Park in 2008 and escaped with a fortuitous 18-16 victory.

Two men will be signposts for the All Black fortunes - the totemic shapes of Brodie Retallick in the pack and new fullback Jordie Barrett - with their production gifts needed at full noise to lift the All Blacks response.

Singling them out may be unjust in a team game but the Lions will pile into them because they are so critical to the All Blacks.

The Lions will go for both in the air, challenging Retallick in his domains at the kickoff, lineouts and runs off the ruck and checking out Barrett's nerves and technique to claim high kicks under chasing pressure and outside the protection of his 22.

Accuracy from everyone in the air will be vital with Poite and his three assistants more alert about World Rugby directions for those infractions than they seem to be for offside and breakdown offences.

Retallick and Barrett will be symbols but every All Black and the subs bench will need to be tuned to make an imprint against a high quality Lions side who have given us a series we have craved for so long.