Friday 22 September 2017

POLL: Can the Lions end New Zealand's unbeaten run at Eden Park?

British and Irish Lions' Tadhg Furlong
British and Irish Lions' Tadhg Furlong

Andrew Baldock

The British and Irish Lions will end one of rugby union's most impressive unbeaten records if they win the first Test against New Zealand on Saturday.

The degree of difficulty is tough enough across three games against the reigning world champions.

Who will win the first Test?

British and Irish Lions' Tadhg Furlong receives an offload from Conor Murray during the Tour match at the Rotorua International Stadium. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 17, 2017. See PA story RUGBYU Lions. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use or obscuring of sponsor logos. Editorial use only. No commercial use or obscuring of sponsor logos.

But two of those matches are at Eden Park in Auckland - where New Zealand last lost on July 3, 1994.

France were their conquerors, winning 23-20 thanks to a breathtaking length-of-the-field try seconds from time, and while New Zealand's next Eden Park Test finished 18-18 against South Africa, they have since reeled off 37 successive victories during a 38-match unbeaten sequence.

The Lions feature among New Zealand's many victims, beaten 38-19 in 2005, while Australia have been downed 14 times, South Africa, England and France four times each, and Ireland three.

Other nations that have not savoured the Eden Park experience during that 23-year period are Wales, Scotland, Canada, Argentina, Tonga and Samoa, with New Zealand averaging 35 points a time and conceding just 14.

France came closest to halting the run when they were edged out 8-7 during a tense 2011 World Cup final, but the All Blacks have rarely been threatened, claiming a biggest win of 73-7 against Canada and failing to score a try just once, when they were held by South Africa.

"It (record) adds a variable to use before the game on Saturday," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said.

"We love playing there. It has always been a special ground for New Zealand rugby as a whole.

"We have to play well on Saturday. If we are to add to the legacy of Eden Park, we are going to have to play well.

"There is something about playing in front of our home crowd. They are passionate and they love the All Blacks playing well. This will be special because a significant percentage will be in red (Lions fans), and it will be a special occasion because of that."

NEW ZEALAND'S UNBEATEN RUN AT EDEN PARK

1994

August 6: South Africa (drew 18-18).

1995

April 22: Canada (won 73-7).

July 22: Australia (won 28-16).

1996

June 22: Scotland (won 36-12).

1997

August 9: South Africa (won 55-35).

1998

June 27: England (won 40-10).

1999

July 24: Australia (won 34-15).

2000

July 1: Scotland (won 48-14).

2001

August 25: South Africa (won 26-15).

2002

June 22: Ireland (won 40-8).

2003

August 16: Australia (won 21-17).

2004

June 19: England (won 36-12).

2005

July 9: British and Irish Lions (won 38-19).

September 3: Australia (won 34-24).

2006

June 17: Ireland (won 27-17).

August 19: Australia (won 34-27).

2007

June 2: France (won 42-10).

July 21: Australia (won 26-12).

2008

June 14: England (won 37-20).

August 2: Australia (won 39-10).

2009

July 18: Australia (won 22-16).

2010

July 10: South Africa (won 32-12).

2011

August 6: Australia (won 30-14).

September 9: Tonga (won 41-10).

September 24: France (won 37-17).

October 9: Argentina (won 33-10).

October 16: Australia (won 20-6).

October 23: France (won 8-7).

2012

June 9: Ireland (won 42-10).

August 25: Australia (won 22-0).

2013

June 8: France (won 23-13).

September 14: South Africa (won 29-15).

2014

June 7: England (won 20-15).

August 23: Australia (won 51-20).

2015

August 15: Australia (won 41-13).

2016

June 11: Wales (won 39-21).

October 22: Australia (won 37-10).

2017

June 16: Samoa (won 78-0).

Total points scored: 1337.

Total points conceded: 535.

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