James Graham has warned fans expecting a sudden Great Britain try bonanza on Saturday to forget it.
The Lions have lost their opening two Tests and worryingly only scored one try in each game. But captain Graham, who has vowed to beat New Zealand in Christchurch, insists it isn’t unusual.
He said: “I have read some comments about the lack of attacking rugby and all that sort of stuff. But if you want to see a try fest you are probably looking in the wrong spot. International rugby should be about close tight games as our recent games have shown.
“England’s win over New Zealand at Anfield last year was one of the greatest games you’re ever likely to see and the same with our World Cup semi final against Tonga in 2017.”
The Lions lost 14-6 to Tonga in the opening game of this four-match tour Down Under and went down 12-8 to the Kiwis in Auckland.
But with better execution and fewer errors, Great Britain could have swung both results their way. It’s something Graham says they need to work on tomorrow because scoring chances will be limited.
He added: “It isn’t going to be a score-athon at this level, it’s going to be tight because defences are too good.
“We need to look at areas where we can break the Kiwi defence down a little better. But in terms of effort areas, performance strategy and game plan I don’t think we are far off.”
English referee Chris Kendall was heavily criticised for allowing the Kiwis to slow down the ruck speed last week. It resulted in some lengthy dull spells with players’ frustrations, especially the Lions’, boiling over at times.
Graham said: “If you look at the actual numbers they do not lie in terms of the play-the-ball speed. It was slow. As a referee that’s his interpretation. It’s not unique to that one refereeing performance and I am not going to criticise him for that.
“That is the way he wanted to referee and New Zealand played to that interpretation and I’m not going to criticise them either. It is important to stress that referees have got a multitude of things to do. In the NRL we have two referees and they can come in for criticism, although not for ruck speed.”
Kendall, who refereed the LIons' opening two Tests, takes charge of Fiji v Papua New Guinea on Saturday, with Gerry Sutton refereeing the Lions.
Great Britain have been forced into two late changes due to injuries to Zak Hardaker and Joe Philbin, with Blake Austin called up as an emergency winger and Luke Thompson returning from a rib injury on the bench.
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