The British & Irish Lions started their test campaign with a fortunate win Australia 21-23 British and Irish Lions. It has to be said this was not a vintage Lions performance as they still managed to include a fair number of errors in their show. Mike Phillips was a considerable second to Will Genia. Dead heat for George North and Israel Folau whilst Alex Cuthbert got one over Digby Ioane. Did the referee ruin it? We do not think so as everyone had said how he would ref it and he did. Was it right or wrong? Again that is not the point it was his view and he was not going to change. Certainly in the last twenty minutes the Lions did not take full advantage of the players out of position in the Australian back line and you have to give those guys full marks for manning up. This was certainly a typical Australia showing when they would not lie down and wayward kicking by O’Connor and Kurtley Beale saved the day as the Gods went in favour of the Lions.
Who should be the bolter’s for the second test? The starting pack with maybe the exception of Croft bringing in O’Brien if he has a good one on Tuesday. In the backs maybe Youngs for Phillips and the rest as is unless Jamie Roberts is fully fit which seems unlikely. A second run out could improve things for Davies though Manu Tuilagi is an option also for Davies.
Whatever there are some tough calls for the selectors which is good and the second test should be another tough one but one the Lions should win if they bring their A game!
First test half-time score was Australia 12-13 Lions and the final score was:
Australia 21-23 British & Irish Lions
Tries: Folau 2
Penalties: O’Connor, Beale 2
British and Irish Lions
Tries: North, Cuthbert
Conversions: Halfpenny 2
Penalties: Halfpenny 3
Australia: Berrick Barnes; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano, Digby Ioane; James O’Connor, Will Genia; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, James Horwill (capt), Kane Douglas, Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper (for Robinson, 68), Sekope Kepu (for Alexander, 58), Rob Simmons (for Douglas, 68), Liam Gill (for McCabe, 47), Nick Phipps (for Ashley-Cooper, 77), Pat McCabe (for Leali’ifano, 2) Kurtley Beale (for Barnes, 38).
Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North, Jonathan Sexton, Mike Phillips; Alex Corbisiero, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O’Connell, Tom Croft, Sam Warburton (capt), Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (for T Youngs, 65), Mako Vunipola (for Corbisiero, 52), Dan Cole (for A Jones, 52), Geoff Parling (for AW Jones, 70), Dan Lydiate (for Croft, 73), Ben Youngs (for Phillips, 62), Owen Farrell, Sean Maitland.
Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ)
June 25 Tuesday the Lions meet the Melbourne Rebels. This is expected to be a simple win for the Lions and it is good that they have picked a strong team. Also good to see Manu and Farrell get a start. The back row combination should be interesting though to be fair Croft did nothing wrong in the test. Maitland and Zebo will have to work hard if they are to feature in any test selection though we would rate Zebo over Bowe at the moment. Dan Cole needs a big game to show that his run on in the test was a blip. Expect the Lions to win by twenty clear points.
Melbourne Rebels: Jason Woodward; Tom English, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Lachlan Mitchell; Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess; Nic Henderson, Ged Robinson, Laurie Weeks, Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Jarrod Saffy, Scott Fuglistaller, Gareth Delve (capt).
Replacements: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Luke Jones, Jordy Reid, Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts, Cooper Vuna.
Lions: Rob Kearney; Sean Maitland, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Simon Zebo; Owen Farrell, Conor Murray; Ryan Grant, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole, Richie Gray, Geoff Parling (capt), Dan Lydiate, Sean O’Brien, Toby Faletau.
Replacements: Rory Best, Mako Vunipola, Matt Stevens, Ian Evans, Justin Tipuric, Ben Youngs, Billy Twelvetrees, Stuart Hogg.