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Saturday 23 September 2017

All Blacks' unbeaten run at Eden Park truly intimidating

Sonny Bill Williams. Photo credit: David Davies/PA Wire.
Sonny Bill Williams. Photo credit: David Davies/PA Wire.

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. 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.

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 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."

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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