Monday, June 24, 2013

The Lions draw first blood!

So after all the hype – a match that lived up to the billing, with both sides in it up until the last second. There were missed opportunities for both sides – the Lions failed to capitalise on their domination in the scrum,they  didn’t take points often enough in the Wallabies 22, and should have made more of a flank playing at centre. The Wallabies meanwhile, with a bit of decent kicking, could and should have won the match. Now in fairness, the Aussies lost their place kicker Leali'ifano in the first minute, and neither O’Connor nor Beale could get their act together after that. I thought the Aussies might pick up a few injuries after training for 3 weeks, but they were hit really hard.

For the Lions Halfpenny, Sexton and POC were imperious, Heaslip had a great match, and George North’s reputation in the Northern Hemisphere took a massive step up. In the second test, they need to work out how to maximise the effectiveness of their scrum – the replacemsnt front row was a big disappointment. They also need to work with Phillips on the tempo of the game – they have excellent backs, but they need fast ball to give them the space to work in. Also penalties – and working out what the hell the ref wanted – is something they have to work on, as they were handing out soft penalties all over the place. Finally, what a massive disappointment for POC to be leaving so soon.

Folau was the standout player for the Wallabies, while it was Genia who really kept them in the game – he’s a player the Lions need to pressurise more. Beale looked good, when he came on, but there was a lot of rustiness in the Wallabies play and massive room for improvement.  Mogg, George Smith and Tapuai have been called up, and Horwell, by the grace of the citing commissioner in a risible decision, is still free to play. James O’Connor has offered very little for them so far, they need someone to work with Genia, otherwise this series will be done and dusted next weekend.
Saturday , June 22
New Zealand 24 - 9 France 
Scotland 30 - 29 Italy 
South Africa 56 - 23 Samoa 
British & Irish Lions
Australia 21 - 23 British & Irish Lions 

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