The Lions have a chance to make history next week by overcoming a first Test defeat to the All Blacks and completing the most unlikely of comebacks.
The heroics of this morning have set up an unmissable game next Saturday in Auckland’s Eden Park but it will require a far better performance than today where it took the Tourists far too long to capitalise on the early dismissal of Sonny Bill Williams.
The vast majority of both the starting team and the replacements turned in fine performances but Lions fans on Twitter have almost unanimously agreed that one man wasn’t quite up to it and needs replacing for the crucial clash in a week’s time.
Only see the one change now for next week at loose head.
— Kev Lennon (@kevlennon1) July 1, 2017
Don't think I'd make any changes to the starting 15 for next week other than maybe start McGrath ahead of Vunipola #LionsNZ2017
— Gavin Barrett (@GavinBarrettSJ) July 1, 2017
Yeah, don't see Mako being involved at all next week. McGrath to start, Marler off the bench. Aw am so fucking excited for next week
— Paul McGreal (@FatherFlipper) July 1, 2017
Discipline very poor but we didn't concede a try. That's massive. Only change McGrath for Vunipola.
— Matthew Davies (@Matthew1Davies) July 1, 2017
— Elegant Outhalf (@Elzyvis) July 1, 2017
Lawes in for a jaded Alun Wyn Jones a must next week. Suspect McGrath will replace Mako and not much else in the way of changes.
— Andy Charles (@capitalgull) July 1, 2017
Only change next week would be to start McGrath and stick Vunipola on the bench.
— Dyl (@dylankaye) July 1, 2017
Only reason Sexton-Farrell worked was because AB's were down a man. Don't think it will work next week. Also, McGrath for Vunipola #Lions
— Scott Howe (@ScottHowe10) July 1, 2017
Bring back Kruis to run lineout. Drop Vunipola to bench for McGrath and start Dan Cole to solidly scrum and for his ruck work… https://t.co/2U8zMNVUOI
— Tom Hall (@TomHL) July 1, 2017
Winning for Lions Mako Vuniopolo yellow card McGrath has to start next week.
— john crawford (@crawfordjonny) July 1, 2017
Only change for lion next week Mcgrath for Vunipola #LionsNZ2017
— Mark Connolly (@markbarna15) July 1, 2017
Mako Vunipola’s yellow card in the second half initially seemed like it would give way to an All Blacks onslaught but Gatland’s charges actually fared better at 14 against 14 and managed to outscore the hosts during the sin-bin period.
However, the needless tackle that earned him the dismissal was far from his only mistake. The Saracens prop once again proved to be a weak link at scrum time and offered little in the way of ball-carrying. With Jack McGrath a renowned scrummager in the loose, it would be a surprise if we didn’t see Gatland opt for a straight swap.