The visitors delivered an unconvincing win against the semi-professional Provincial Barbarians in their opening game and on Wednesday lost to the Blues, New Zealand’s worst-performing Super Rugby side this season.The Crusaders always loomed as the toughest opponents of the opening 10 days and Gatland has decided to field what appears to be the strongest Lions side yet in a bid avoid what would be a dispiriting second defeat so early on the tour.Should the Crusaders inflict defeat on such a strong side, it could leave the Lions in disarray and send Gatland scurrying back the drawing board to sketch out a Plan B with only three matches to iron out the details before facing the All Blacks.”It would be disappointing to lose back-to-back matches,” Gatland said. “The challenge is to come together as quick as we can.”It’s a great test for us and preparation. We are trying to keep a few things back behind closed doors.”While Gatland may indeed be keeping a few things back, in truth there is very little time for the Lions to get things right as they build through the tour towards that all-important first test against the world champions on June 24.The visitors have so far failed to show the intensity, skill execution and cohesiveness that their 20,000 travelling fans had expected from day one in New Zealand.While the Lions demonstrated a stiff defence against the Blues at Eden Park on Wednesday, they must capitalise on their scoring opportunities, create more with the ball in hand, and not rely solely on their kicking game to create pressure.And they need to score tries.Tour captain Sam Warburton has said they would not beat the All Blacks in the three-test series unless they scored more than 20 points per game. However, they failed to breach that mark against the Barbarians and Blues and scored just one try in both those games.On Saturday, the Crusaders represent a considerable step up in intensity with coach Scott Robertson fielding all of his All Blacks, with six in the pack alone.The Lions have surprisingly failed to dominate in the scrum and with the Crusaders boasting what is likely to be the All Blacks front row for the first test, that contest will be keenly watched.The seven-times Super Rugby champions have also been more expansive this year under Robertson, but he said it would be churlish not to adapt to what the Lions threw at them.”We will be smart about it. We also understand that with the potential test match focus of it, we have to adapt,” Robertson said. “If we have to go to set-piece, we will.”If we have to throw the ball as well, we will.”
This latest controversy creates a double dose of distrust. Not only will taxpayers view the agency with increasing uncertainty, but events held in cooperation with the DCFS to raise funds for foster children might also come to be viewed with suspicion. Corporate and individual donations could wane. This is more than just outrageous; it’s a crime against children. And county officials ought to treat it as such. The money trail ought to provide evidence of fraud and theft of public funds. The agency must send a clear message that people who take funds that were meant for some of the most vulnerable people in our society will be dealt with severely.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre In June, a grand jury blasted the DCFS for not funding an abuse-prevention program despite rising fears about the safety of children in foster homes. In August, an audit found that the agency had lax oversight of a $177 million services and supplies budget. The audit released this week is certain to increase doubts about the agency’s ability to do its job. A study of DCFS procurement operations found that tens of thousands of dollars that were supposed to go to children and foster parents to buy necessities such as food and clothing were misused. Instead, the funds went toward buying gift cards for nonessential goods and services from businesses such as the Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Glenn Ivy Hot Springs-Spa, Starbucks and Red Lobster. Many of these cards were given to DCFS employees, mentors and volunteers. DCFS funds were also tapped to pay for 160 tickets to a musical play, at a cost of $14,000. Only 53 of these tickets went to children, auditors found. The audit discovered that one DCFS office spent more than $200,000 on entertainment since March. IN another shameful episode for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, an audit released this week found that employees usurped money meant for foster children and spent it on personal entertainment. In response, county officials said the employees involved will be subject to discipline. But that’s not enough. Not by a long shot. Those who misused these funds should be fired at the very least. Perhaps even prosecuted. Discipline in this troubled agency charged with protecting children hasn’t seemed to work very well. This is just the latest disturbing headline in the past few years about the DCFS. In 2005, more than 900 children under DCFS care ran away from their foster homes.