Warren Gatland reckons it's all coming together.

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Jim Kayes     21 Jun 2017     Getty Images

It's got Gatland coming as close to an "I told you so" moment as he'll get without actually saying the words.

"This is unlike anything that’s been taken on before," Gatland said of the relentless tour to New Zealand with games against all five New Zealand Investec Super Rugby teams.


"We said if we dropped a couple of games it wouldn't be the end of the world so long as we were were getting better," Gatland said.

He knows they are and he has the results to prove it. 

The wins against the Crusaders and Maori All Blacks showed the Lions have a pack that can take control of a game; forwards able to dominate possession and dictate the pace of the match.

What was missing was finish - the connectivity that sees chances translate into points. Tries have gone begging in almost every match and while that was the case again against the Chiefs with centre Jared Payne bombing one certain try, this was a much better attacking performance.
Well, in the second half at least.

Having led 13-6 at the break the Lions were helped by a deserved penalty try and then scored two beauties. The first was wing Jack Nowell's second for the night as he finished a move that swept 80 metres down field and featured good passing, strong running and some patience.

Then fullback Liam Williams stormed through a gap and put Payne across for a very nifty try.

Suddenly the Lions had their attacking mojo.

"We knew we had been creating chances we just hadn't finished them off. From a defensive point of view we're getting stronger and stronger against the best attacking teams in world rugby who score multiple tries week in and week out.
"We are starting to strangle them a little bit in the way we are defending. But on Saturday we are up against the best team in the world in their own backyard at a place they haven't been beaten at since 1994."

That loss was to France who scored one of the most remarkable tries Test rugby's seen. The Lions are unlikely to replicate that try - dubbed “the try from the end of the world” but they have found the way they want to play.

It won't be expansive, it may not be thrilling, but it could be effective.

Gatland's Lions will keep things simple. They will kick for territory, drive for momentum, scrum for dominance and - above all else - keep it tight.

They'll be wary of turnovers because everyone knows how good the All Blacks are on the counterattack.

Both teams are named on Thursday and each is extremely predictable with the All Blacks likely to be almost exactly the same team that started against Samoa, and the Lions pretty much the team that ran out against the Maori All Blacks.

The only expected change to the All Blacks is at No8 where a now fit Kieran Read will start with Ardie Savea probably dropping to the bench.

For the Lions, Gatland will hope Owen Farrell is fit to start at 10 and he may still be tinkering with who sits on his bench.

This Test has been a long time coming and now it's almost here. There's a few more days for the coaches to fire shots at each other and try to influence the match officials, but as Gatland said after his Lions won at his old home ground in Hamilton, it's now time to let rugby do the talking.