In Summary

  • Up to 30,000 Lions fans travelled to New Zealand for the six-week tour and they have invaded the city in readiness for the third and deciding Test at Eden Park on Saturday.
  • Convoys of mobile homes have parked at specially created camp sites in the city's two racecourses and Air New Zealand has reported a surge in bookings into Auckland for the occasion.

AUCKLAND

A rugby fever unmatched since the 2011 World Cup final has gripped Auckland as the city readies for a winner-takes-all showdown between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions.

Up to 30,000 Lions fans travelled to New Zealand for the six-week tour and they have invaded the city in readiness for the third and deciding Test at Eden Park on Saturday.

Convoys of mobile homes have parked at specially created camp sites in the city's two racecourses and Air New Zealand has reported a surge in bookings into Auckland for the occasion.

In bars and restaurants, red shirts prevail as groups of visiting fans make the most of local hospitality, often chanting support for the composite rugby team that only visits New Zealand once every 12 years.

All Blacks fan David Paul rated the match's importance alongside the back-to-back World Cups won by New Zealand in Britain in 2015 and on home soil at Eden Park in 2011.

"This is a big game for New Zealand as a country, up there with the last two World Cups," he said.

"We've got to be confident given our record at Eden Park... but I'm expecting a very tight game."

The excitement has also rubbed off on the players, with New Zealand flanker Jerome Kaino saying there was an "edge" at training which added to the World Cup flavour.

"It definitely has that feel. The excitement we had at training today backs that up," said Kaino, who was part of the 2011 and 2015 triumphs.

"The Lions are a great side and there's a lot of history between these two teams, so being 1-1 it does have that feeling about it."

'THEY'D BE IMMORTAL'

For many Lions fans, visiting New Zealand is the trip of a lifetime and the fact that their team has pushed the world champions to a decider is an added bonus.

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