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Lions tour: Crusaders expect traditional 'tight' rugby from Warren Gatland's Lions side

20 June 2017

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland was intent on assuming a courageous face after his side suffered a 22-16 defeat to Super Rugby outfit the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland.

The defeat adds to the Lions' stuttering victory over the Provincial Barbarians on Saturday, although Gatland believes his players will be all the better for this experience come the first Test against world champions New Zealand on 24 June.

Tour skipper Sam Warburton misses out with an ankle problem, while Ross Moriarty has a back spasm and Dan Biggar is undergoing return-to-play protocols after a head injury.

Next up for the Lions are another Super Rugby franchise in the Crusaders on Saturday, when Farrell is expected to start at fly half.

Jack McGrath insists the British and Irish Lions would stomach more losses in New Zealand if that meant toppling the All Blacks.

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Gatland has picked a strong but still experimental lineup, though, to meet a Crusaders team which contains nine All Blacks.

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"Wednesday was more about our discipline, it just let us down and we let them off the hook at times".

The Blues are winless in NZ Super Rugby derbies in 2017 and are certain to finish last in the Kiwi conference, missing the finals for the sixth straight year.

It was, according to Lions hooker Jamie George, who has the honour of starting this match before starting a test for England, the assertion from assistant coach and former England lock Steve Borthwick that the tourists' pack have to get to world class standard in order to beat the All Blacks. I thought we played pretty well and competed with a side that's got a very good record here at Eden Park.

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The formidable Crusaders have won all 14 of their Super Rugby fixtures this season and coach Scott Robertson has opted to name eight All Blacks in his starting XV. "Performance-wise it was a step in the right direction, but to concede the way we did having fought back twice was disappointing", he said.

"They're a quality outfit and we know they can pull something out of nothing".

Team: Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (captain), Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.

Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Tim Bateman.

Lions team: Hogg, North, Davies; Te'o, Williams, Farrell, Murray; Vunipola, George, Furlong, Jones (capt), Kruis, O'Mahony, O'Brien, Faletau.

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Lions tour: Crusaders expect traditional 'tight' rugby from Warren Gatland's Lions side