Even when the Lions have been bad, their defence has still been good. It has been particularly good on the last two Saturdays when they have fielded what will be close to their test team.

They have got that bit of their game right. The Lions have shown incredible linespeed.

They have held their shape. They have made strong one-on-one tackles and their defence has been used as a weapon - a means to shut down and pressure opponents.

They conceded no tries against the Crusaders and just one against the Maori and that has made defence coach Andy Farrell a moderately content man. But most definitely not a complacent man as he, like everyone else, understands that the challenge of shutting down the All Blacks is considerably harder.


The statistics from last year's Rugby Championship provide a sobering reminder of that. The All Blacks averaged five tries per game and almost 43 points.

It was a ludicrously successful campaign in terms of their attack and in just one outing this year they have managed to score 78 points.

Those came last week against Samoa, who struggled for cohesion and quality and made life a little easy at times for the All Blacks.

Still, despite the defensive weaknesses of Samoa, the All Blacks had moments that were created purely on the back of their ability to play the ball out of contact on multiple occasions.

It's the continuity element that makes them so dangerous and differentiates the All Blacks from all other international teams. They strike off turnover ball and look for mismatches in the defensive line where a back can attack a forward in the hope that will create enough space to play the ball out of contact.

This much Farrell knows and he can't or simply won't hide from the fact that if the Lions are to be successful at Eden Park on Saturday, they have to find a way to shut down the All Blacks' offloading.

Let them play and they are close to being unstoppable. "Obviously it is the unstructured stuff that they are fantastic at," said Farrell. "The offloads and turnover ball are part of that and you see Sonny Bill coming off both feet into space and offloading the ball.

"We talk a lot about our tackle entry and how effective we can be individually but sometimes it is the two man hit - it is the job of the assistant tackler to make sure he is spot on as well. We have been working on that."

It won't just be a case of trying to make two-man tackles against the All Blacks. Getting all parts of the game right will matter from slowing down the speed of the All Blacks' recycle, to kicking well to generating that incredible linespeed that the Lions have made a feature of this tour.

That last part is critical and Farrell is hoping his side will receive a fair deal from the match officials after, in his view, being penalised a few times in Dunedin for offside offences he feels his team didn't commit.

"I have been looking for the offside and I am still looking," he said. "It is up to us to show a good picture. The offside line ends when the nine picks the ball up and I think there have been times when the nine has picked the ball up and we have been on the b of the bang so to speak.

"But sometimes we have got to make sure we show a clear picture and not give penalties away."