Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin – Date: Saturday, 25 June 2016 – Kick-off: 08:35 BST
What a tour it’s been for Wales; seeds of hope for a brighter gameplan ruthlessly trampled under black feet with emasculating force. Credit to Wales really, they were always going to lose this tour and it would have been easy for Gatland to put off his evolution for another time, but they have partially grasped the nettle at least and this week should see more of the same. Including the losing, unfortunately.
Question is how to stop the All Blacks doing that fifteen minute period where they splinter the hearts of their opponents into a thousands dejected pieces? The answer is, as yet, unknown, and to be fair to Wales, NZ have done this to every team in the world on a fairly consistent basis. Perhaps the only way to answer such a global problem is to form a type of Bilderberg Group of other leading rugby nations to develop a plot to down them, or go the lo-fi route and poison them like SA did (allegedly). Even if this was a goer, Gatland isn’t going to have time to do it this week, so what to do this Saturday?
Keep doing the good stuff that Wales have been doing (mixing up attack, using back three intelligently, offloading) and do a lot less rubbish stuff than last week (lineout nightmare, awful kicking) and hope against hope that NZ forget to change into top gear for fifteen minutes. It’s as good a plan as any, isn’t it? All this blog knows is that it wants to see Samson Lee at first receiver as much as is humanly possible, as it’s the possibly the greatest thing in the history of the sport.
B&M Prediction: New Zealand by fuckloads, probably
Spotter’s Badge: Samson Lee, pivot genius
New Zealand: Israel Dagg; Ben Smith, George Moala, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Charlie Faumuina, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Elliot Dixon, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (capt).
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Luke Romano, Liam Squire, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Lima Sopoaga, Waisake Naholo.
Wales: Rhys Patchell, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Ross Moriarty, Sam Warburton (capt), Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Aaron Jarvis, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Scott Williams.