Kick-off: 0835, 17/06/2017
Stadium: Rotorua International Stadium
TV: Sky Sports 1
The Lions were beaten 19-13 by the Maori All Blacks back in 2005 and face another big challenge on Saturday in what has been dubbed the unofficial fourth Test of their current tour.
Owen Farrell’s withdrawal through injury hasn’t helped matters as Warren Gatland’s side look to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss to the Highlanders.
Putting points on the board has been a problem for the tourists, even when they dominated up front against the Crusaders, so we’re taking a bwin price boost of Evens for the hosts with five start in our Maori All Blacks vs Lions betting tips.
Coach Colin Cooper has named nine New Zealand internationals in his team, with 43-times capped loose forward Liam Messam providing experience in the pack.
It is in the back division where the Maori are expected to really test the Lions, though, with lightning-quick Chiefs full-back Damian McKenzie named at fly-half.
Winger Reiko Ioane has already shown how dangerous he can be when scoring a try as the Blues sunk the Lions 22-16 in the second game of the tour.
Hurricanes star Nehe Milner-Skudder, Chiefs centre Charlie Ngatai and scrum-half teammate Tawera Kerr-Barlow are other explosive runners capable of causing havoc in the loose.
Maori stars chasing Test spots
“All these players want to represent the All Blacks and I want to push as many of them as I can to that level,” said Cooper.
“We want them to be proud of who they are and seize the opportunity to represent the Maori, and to aspire to be the best that they can, and that’s to chase a chance with the All Blacks.”
Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony will captain the Lions and they do have a strong-looking pack, even though Sam Warburton is on the bench as he continues to shake off recent ankle trouble.
However, the loss of Farrell is a big blow, with the England star having shown imperious form in the fine 12-3 win over much-vaunted Super Rugby leaders the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.
The loose forward trio of O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and Taulupe Faletau were also particularly effective in that fixture, but the feeling is that the Lions will have to grind out points, whereas the Maori can strike from anywhere.
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