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'Bigger than a World Cup final' - Barnes

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    04 Jul 2017     Getty Images

Writing on skysports.com in England, Barnes said, "I have called two World Cup finals and two deciding Tests between the Lions and Australia but Saturday feels like the biggest of them all.

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"The World Cup is how we measure Test teams but this is different.

"The Lions are a throwback – no preparation time, an absurd fixture list, the hysteria about the Welsh and Scottish contingent flown in to boost the bench and training – all this has been and gone and somehow the Lions find themselves one-all in a showdown with one of the great teams in sporting history," he said.

Barnes, who was a member of the 1993 Lions team said 24 years ago in that series the All Blacks bounced back from a 20-7 loss in Wellington to put 30 points on the Lions in Auckland in the series decider.

But now, after nearly a quarter of a century, the Lions had a shot at revenge.

The Lions had banished memories of the 2005 masterclass dished out by Dan Carter in Wellington with a 'fierce, if at times flawed, display to level the series in Wellington', he said.

"Some pretty dumb lapses in discipline almost enabled New Zealand to win a game they had no right to win.

"Reduced to 14 men around the 25-minute mark, the Lions should have closed the game out earlier…if they are truly good enough to beat New Zealand when numerical advantage and awful conditions don't play – supposedly – to their advantage," he said.
Barnes said Beauden Barrett's missed kicks after his confident showings against Samoa and in the first Test meant if the Lions could pressure the Lions and affect Barrett he could end the series as their weak link.

But he added, "While the Lions have the superior try count I wouldn't be in a rush to write off the All Black attack quite yet. This is, British and Irish fans, no time for triumphalism."

Barnes felt the non-punishment of Sean O'Brien could be a major boost for the Lions' hopes.

"The pressure is firmly on the All Blacks. A winning run of 46 home Tests stretching back to 2009 has come to an end…Of all the Lions side only the 1971 vintage claimed victory in New Zealand. This team has never looked comparable with their descendants but another win and they'll be legends for life.

"They are still the underdogs however. New Zealand and most of the world expect the home side to win the series. The Lions have a free shot," he said.