Brent Popes Lions Player Watch After 2nd Test – Lions 25 South Africa 28

By admin · June 29, 2009 · Filed in Brent Pope's Player Watch Blog · Comments Off

BRENT POPE – 2ND TEST MATCH REVIEW

12 years ago a young looking Jeremy Cuscott launched a last minute dropkick that broke the hearts of a rugby mad nation, this time it was Springbok replacement outhalf Moune Steyns chance for immortality, as his last second penalty kick meant that the Lions dreams of forcing a “do or die” game next week sadly went with it.

The tale of this lost series was that the Lions just couldn’t play for the full 80 minutes, and while they dominated for the last 40 minutes of the first test, and the first 60 minutes of this one it was the lack of clinical finishing that eventually cost them.
 
 Over his illustrious career Ronan O’Gara has enjoyed some massive highs, and as a goal kicker he has often been the one to step up and take the responsibility for a win or a loss.
 
 Yesterday, Ronan O’Gara’s last minute penalty(correct but cruel) realistically cost the Lions a chance at squaring the series. The real question is, was O’Gara right to keep the play alive with a speculative Garryowen when a kick to touch would have seen the end of the game and a creditable draw? I think O’Gara’s decision was the correct one, given that just minutes before the Lions had gone deep into South African territory and managed to convert a penalty, thus forcing the draw.

 O’Gara’s intention was to get good field position and then hope it was the Springboks who infringed, and he went into the air in an effort to win the ball back. O’Gara simply wanted to win the match, and who knows on another day it may just have may have worked.

 It will still sit heavy on the shoulders of O’Gara, simply because this is not a Munster or Irish team where his fellow players will remember the days that O’Gara won matches for them on his own, but rather a composite collection of four home union players, who may not be so sympathetic. One must also take into account the Lions growing injury list, and with the Lions down two of their attacking kingpins Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll that may have had also some bearing on O’Gara’s last minute decision? In the end it was still a game that the Lions could have won, and some weak Lions tackling allowed replacement Springbok centre Jacque Fourie to work some magic in just 3 inches of space. Fourie should never have been allowed to score, and probably wouldn’t have if either O’Driscoll or Roberts had still been on the park.

The game started in controversial enough circumstances with Springbok Flanker Schalk Burger being yellow carded for eye gouging on Luke Fitzgerald. Burger along with  secondrow Botha has been cited, and Burger will play no part in this years Tri-Nations Series. Burger’s overall performance in the match was poor anyway, and when  replacement Heinrich Brussow came on the park later in the second half, the Springboks suddenly began to dominate the loose ball again. In the first half the Lions were magnificent to a man, but one player was exceptional, Irish fullback Rob Kearney. Kearney put in one of the finest fullback displays ever seen on any rugby pitch, and his catching of the high ball was GAA schooled from the top drawer. The South Africans only had one game plan in the first 60 minutes or so, and it was to kick, and with Kearney and his all Irish back three of Luke Fitzgerald and Tommy Bowe taking everything the Boks could launch at them, it looked as if the Lions would hold on. Stephen Jones was doing his part by punishing the home team every time the Lions got into Springbok territory, while the South African kickers were going to pieces under the pressure until the arrival of hometown hero Steyn, who not only converted Fourie’s try from the sideline, but then coolly banged over the winning kick from about 50 metres.

There can be no criticism of the Lions selection prior to this match, as the visitors scrum not only held up, but dominated until they became uncontested (something that also helped the Springboks) and the whole Lions backline look sharp with every attack. Simon Shaw was like a concrete pillar at every kickoff and fully justified his selection at 36 years of age, while players like David Wallace (first half in particular) and Jamie Heaslip (defensively) were turning in massive individual performances. The Lions were not helped in the secondhalf by the ridiculous ruling of uncontested scrums, and while injury prevention is key in this game, especially in the area of the front row, something needs to be done in accommodating more front row players on the bench. Once the scrums became uncontested, the South Africans had one of the best No 8’s in the world Pierre Spies to take full advantage of a more secure platform, and it was the big No8 who started to make valuable yardage off a Springbok scrum that had been struggling badly in the first spell.

With the Lions tiring badly into the last 20 minutes but clinging on thanks to Jones’s boot the loss of their midfield Generals O’Driscoll and Roberts was the eventual death nail, it meant a complete reshuffle of the Lions backline and it was hugely disruptive especially in defence. You still have to take your hat off to the Springboks however, they were on the rack and they wouldn’t give up. For the first half they were on the brink of collapse, and facing a third winner takes all test against a confident and buoyed up Lions team in a rugby mad country that would not have accepted that. The Springbok public wanted quick revenge for 1997, and a loss yesterday would have meant a week of criticism for the home team and some of its players like Botha and Burger. So the Lions tour is effectively now over, with just pride to play for next week. The Lions will want to avoid a series whitewash, but it’s hard to see what sort of team the Lions will start with next week, in fact with such a high attrition rate yesterday, what sort of side is actually left?
 
 Some questions will emerge today (especially from sections of the English media) as to whether Paul O’Connell  was the right man to lead the Lions? In my opinion, he was. O’Connell is a quietly spoken man who always gives of his best, be it for Munster, Ireland and the now the Lions. His Lions team in the two tests were for the most part disciplined and courageous, and what people forget is that unlike the likes of  Willie John McBride and Martin Johnston, O’Connell did not have any other National Captains in the forwards to assist him in some of the key decisions. Martin Johnston had the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Keith Wood and others to call on for advice, players for whom captaining national sides was second nature, O’Connell had a forward pack with little or no experience in this area.
 
 In the end it was a fantastic test match that will live in the memory for years, it was just an unfortunate result and an unfortunate moment for Ronan O’Gara, who will take things on the chin and bounce back as he has always has.

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George Hooks Lions Video Blog After 2nd Test Lions 25 South Africa 28

By admin · June 28, 2009 · Filed in George Hook's Video Blog · 13 Comments »

WATCH GEORGE HOOKS LIONS VIDEO BLOG AFTER THE BRITISH AND IRISH Lions Tour SECOND TEST V SPRINGBOKS ON SATURDAY. RESULT LIONS 25 SOUTH AFRICA 28

PLEASE POST YOUR COMMENTS OR ASK GEORGE A QUESTION IN THE BOX BELOW AND GEORGE WILL RESPOND IN THE NEXT VIDEO.

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Brent Popes Lions Player Watch – After First Test – Lions 21 South Africa 26

By admin · June 22, 2009 · Filed in Brent Pope's Player Watch Blog · 5 Comments »

 
BRENT POPE – 1ST TEST REVIEW

Lions Coach Ian McGeechan is in a real selection dilemma now? Does he stick with his starting team selection of this week (apart from the obvious removal of prop Phil Vickery) or on the basis of their second half revival, does he jump ship and select a new starting team in an effort to square up the series? You can guarantee that apart from a possible reshuffle in the centres, that the South Africans will not change their starting team much.
 
There were two aspects of this match that ultimately affected the end result, and both had nothing to do with the players but rather their respective head coaches.  Firstly Ian McGeechan’s failure to pull floundering prop Phil Vickery from the field much sooner than he did, and then the arrogance and near tactical suicide of the Springbok Coach Peter de Villiers, who emptied his bench in an effort to give all his players a run out, and it very nearly cost him the match. Had the game run on for another 10 minutes the Lions would have won and De Villiers left with egg all over his face? In the end what looked like a one sided humiliation by the hosts just after halftime, turned out to be a fantastic second half revival by a team that refused to lie down?

Paul O’Connell can be proud of the way he nearly pulled off one of the great comebacks in Lions and test match history, and had a couple of passes stuck, or kicks at goal gone over, then the Lions would have emulated Lazarus. Of course this predisposes that the South Africans did not take their foot off the pedal figuring the game to be done and dusted? I said last week that the Lions would dominate in the scrums, but in the first half they received a battering up front that could only be described as embarrassing. Phil Vickery, who had come into the game as the form tighthead on tour, was destroyed by the “Beast” Mtawarira, a former flanker who is probably not even the best loose head prop in the country, but rather selected on the coloured player quota. Vickery scrummed far too high, and while the Beast may have been penalised by another referee for old-fashioned, but illegal boring in on the  Lions hooker, the English Captain and the Lions front row in general was more often popped up in the air, or face down on the ground facing another kickable penalty. It also meant that Irelands No 8 Jamie Heaslip was almost anonymous in the first half, being unfairly asked to pick up ball or make ground from a retreating scrum.

The Lions lineout was not faring much better at this stage, with South Africa’s artful poacher Victor Matfield stealing some of Lions hooker Lee Mears loose throws to the tail of the lineout. With the hosts enjoying supremacy in the maul (the Lions being driven 20 metres in one memorable flex of South African muscle) scrum, lineout and kicks at goal, the points just kept ticking over courtesy of  Pienaars reliable boot. For all intense purposes the Lions were not only losing the match but being humiliated. Paul O’Connell’s career as Lions Captain was about to be heavily scrutinised by the English media and the whole history of future Lions tours lay in the balance. But to be honest the Lions had not been that bad in the first spell despite the flattering score line, they had gifted the Springboks an easy first try to get them up and running, and should have scored a couple of tries themselves.

The South Africans didn’t actually create anything, the Lions problems unfortunately stemmed from one man Phil Vickery. Without a scrum and a badly misfiring lineout, the Lions basics were shot to hell, with only Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll offering some chinks of light. Every kickable penalty for the Boks seemed to stem from another scrum infringement, and you had the sense that Lions forward Coach Warren Gatland should have seen it a lot earlier. Gatland knew what Adam Jones could contribute, so why didn’t he tell Ian McGeechan to substitute Vickery midway through the first half? And why did Vickery appear after halftime, only to dive over a ruck and give the Springboks another 3 points? Four minutes into the second half  and the wholly haired Adam Jones finally appeared, and the agony was over, things began to change  almost immediately, although at about the very same time the Springbok Coach Peter de Villiers started making the changes that would ultimately let the Lions back into the game.

Suddenly the Lions scrum and lineout was superior, and the forwards lead by Paul O’Connell and Tom Croft began to punch holes in a tiring Springbok defence. O’Driscoll’s angled run that had sent Croft in for his first try worked again for Crofts second, and when the South Africans started to panic, Welsh scrumhalf Mike Philips was in again, to leave just a try between the teams going into the last few minutes. What had seemed impossibility just after halftime, was now not only possible, but probable, the only problem was had the Lions left their assault about 5 minutes too late? Had the Lions scored earlier when they were repeatedly assaulting the Springbok line then they may have had time to win, especially as the South Africans were making mistakes all over the park.

In the end a bad scrum, a weak lineout and some missed kicks at goal cost the Lions the first test. They will learn and have confidence going into the second, but so will the South Africans, and the world champions will now be all the better for losing a tight game, and having a much needed game together. The Springboks despite the win will look at where they went wrong as well, namely they will probably reselect their midfield, and will not be as eager to empty the bench this time out. The influential Swalk Burger may also be back, which is not welcomed news for the tourists.

From the Lions perspective Ian McGeechan is in a tricky position now, does he stick with the bones of the side that made such a remarkable comeback? Or does he shake things up a bit, meaning a few changes? The problem is had the Lions lost badly, which looked odds on after 60 minutes, then the decision would be easy, just make the changes, but McGeechan is now faced with a dilemma, the only certainty is that Phil Vickery will be no where near the Lions side or even the replacements bench next week, with Irelands John Hayes or Andrew Sheridan now poised to come onto the bench. It is a harsh end of the tour for the English Captain, but without a scrum a team cannot hope to win, and Vickery cannot hope to improve that much in a week, it now looks as if the midweek and Saturday games to date were a false dawn, and will require a major rethink.

The Lions must win next week, but at least their team spirit and confidence is still intact and not in tatters, they also know the South Africans will be waiting in the long grass better prepared and at high altitude. The odds of a series win does not favour the team that loses the first rubber, but as in Australia a few years ago, when the Lions won the series after losing the first match all is not over yet, it just got considerably harder that’s all.

 
How the players fared:
 
Lee Byrne: Unfortunately for the Welsh star, Byrne was forced to play in a defensive role rather than showing his attacking prowess. Was replaced in the second half by the big kicking Rob Kearny, who had a good game and possibly showed enough to usurp the Welsh fullback for the second test. 6/10

Rob Kearney: Came on and made a huge difference. Took  all the high balls majestically in the air, and kicked to touch well. Kearney was lucky that the Lions started to attack and get some ball in the second spell rather than just kick and chase and it will be a close selection call for next week. 7/10

Ugo Moyne: Made the mistake that gifted the hosts a soft try in the first few minutes, and also dropped some early high balls. Nearly scored a good try, but was turned over at the vital time, another player who might struggle to get selected for the second test if Ian McGeechan decides to vary things, still a chance that Luke Fitzgerald might get a chance if selected and plays well midweek. 6/10

 
Tommy Bowe. Bowe made one incision into the backline that should have resulted in a try if the Irishman had of just held onto the ball. Did not see enough of the ball to show his tour form, but will probably hold his position based on reputation. 7/10

Brian O’Driscoll. Along with Jamie Roberts, O’Driscoll made mince meat of the South African midfield backs, and looked dangerous with every touch of the ball. Created Tom Crofts first try with a sensational step and feed. Gave the Lions every chance in the dying minutes and continues to defy the critics with a season of dreams. 8/10

Jamie Roberts. Forget Pienaar, Roberts was the star of the show, and broke through the Springbok backline at will. Amazing to think now that Roberts was overlooked for the overrated Gavin Henson against Ireland in the Grand Slam decider last year. Roberts is now emerging as the “player of the tour” and the South Africans will have to restructure their whole defensive plan just to shut him down next week. 9/10

Stephan Jones: Just adequate, and could well be replaced by Ronan O’Gara next week, especially after Jones missed two kicks at goal when the Lions badly needed points on the board. 6/10 

Mike Phillips: Scored a crucial try, but took far too many steps before passing, and was slow in clearing ball at the base of the scrum and rucks. Invited the South Africans up flat on defence, and is not the answer. The Lions will rue the injury to Tomas O’Leary, who would offer a much faster delivery. Harry Ellis may put pressure on Phillips now, especially if O’Gara is preferred to Jones, thus breaking up the Phillips, Jones Welsh combination. 6/10

Jamie Heaslip. Had to try and operate behind a dismantled scrum and hence could not make much of an impression. Much better in the second half when things went more the Lions way, but will want to perform better next week if selected. 6/10

David Wallace: Was the Lions best forward in the first half despite very little good front foot ball. Made two or three trademark Wallace breaks, one of which could have resulted in a try. Unfortunately for Wallace when Martyn Williams came on the Lions were dominant and Williams looked good. Another Irish player who may not make it next week, all depends on how the coaches view things.  6/10

 
Tom Croft: Not a physical presence like say Stephen Ferris, but ran good support lines for two tries, took some ball at the tail of the lineout and made some great tackles. Rangy and fast, Croft was one of the better Lions performers. 7/10

Alun Wynn Jones: The lineout did not function as well as the Lions would have anticipated, especially with four jumpers at their disposal. Lee Mears throws too often went over O’Connell and Jones head. The Welshman was good in defence, with some bone crunching tackles but may be overlooked next week. 6/10

Paul O’Connell. As usual the Irish lock worked his socks off carrying ball around the fringes of rucks and mauls, but at times it was probably too predictable, especially in the first half, and the South Africans had him well read. Made a lot more ground in the second half, and lead the team well. 7/10

Phil Vickery; The English tight-head was touted by Lions scrum-coach Graham Roundtree as the “man to do the job” on what was deemed to be a weak enough South African front row, but he failed badly. Vickery is not a villain, he just had the worst day of his career in an area that he must take full responsibility in. Will not make the second test, and his international career may go into free fall. 4/10

Lee Mears. Mears throwing has been accurate up until now but on this tour but on Saturday his darts went astray against the tall timbers of Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield. Mears did not get enough loose ball to make any impact where he is best with ball in hand, and was eventually replaced.

Gethin Jenkins: Jenkins while part of an overall dismantled front row, seemed to get a new lease of life when Welsh team-mate Adam Jones came on. Kept his side of the scrum reasonably steady throughout, and got around the park like an extra loose forward, including one memorable tackle of Bryan Habbana from behind, will be  retained…7/10 

Adam Jones: Not only held the scrum up, but actually took it forward on the tight-head side. Admittedly the South Africans had made some radical changes and were tiring badly, but all tour Jones has been slightly underrated and must start the second test.

Matthew Rees; Like Martyn Williams, Donnacha O’Callaghan ,Jones and Kearny all had the luxury of coming on when the Lions were on top but Rees carried ball well, and is a bigger physical presence than Mears. Helped fill the scrum and also the lineout came right, a coincidence or just good timing?

 
Donnacha O’Callaghan: Like the above mentioned it was a good day to be a sub. O’Callaghan may have done enough to make the second test, but will have to see how the selectors feel about Nathan Hines after the Scots poor run out last week against the Southern Kings.

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Brent Popes Lions Player Watch – Test Team Analysis

By admin · June 19, 2009 · Filed in Brent Pope's Player Watch Blog · Comments Off

 BRENT POPE – TEST TEAM ANALYSIS

The story of the Lions tour to date and leading into the all important first Test against the reigning World Champions South Africa, this Saturday reads remarkably well, namely played 6 won 6. But the visitors 100% winning record tends to gloss over the fact that on a couple of occasions the Lions got out of jail, and had the opposition been slightly more clinical, especially in the last quarter of the match, then the results may have looked slightly worse. As expected and despite Coach Ian McGeechan keeping some of Tuesday’s fringe players against the Southern Kings motivated by saying that “his first test team was certainly not set in stone” in many ways it already was. And in reality the test team, apart from possibly the backrow, replacements bench and one wing spot had been pencilled in as early as last week.

In many regards there can not be too many gripes on the overall selection and it is more or less based on form rather than the usual tactic of throwing up one or two surprises. Ronan O’Gara must have been close to taking the No 10 spot after another superb goal-kicking display last Tuesday, but in the end he simply lost out to the combination vote of Welshmen Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones. O’Gara was actually lucky even to make the bench in the end, simply because if James Hook had of been fit then Hooks versatile would have given him O’Gara’s spot. Luke Fitzgerald may have also gone close, but he did not see enough of the play despite hunting for work, while the inclusion of David Wallace at openside flanker instead of Martyn Williams is an indication that the Lions will try and dominate possession early on, and attempt to get the ball into Wallace’s hands rather than leave it on the ground where the Springboks have shown a better ability to snaffle 50/50 ball. You can still expect Martyn Williams to play his part off the bench, especially in the second-half when play may loosen up.  Perhaps the biggest mover was lock Donncah O’Callaghan who leapt fogged Simon Shaw and Nathan Hines to make the bench, Hines left his chances on the field against the King last week with a poor display, while Shaw’s age possibly counted against him.

The success of the Lions tour will hinge on a series win, and not the midweek games, but it is imperative that the Lions go one up this weekend and heap the pressure back on the home side. Winning game 1 carries a huge advantage both in confidence and also in knowing that you can still afford to lose the second game and still win the series, although that kind of thinking is of course dangerous in the extreme. The Lions may also look to the fact that with the Springboks having no discernible game time together of late they will be understandably ring rusty, and as inspiration the Lions will look to Frances historic win over New Zealand last weekend. Like South Africa the All Blacks looked disjointed, especially in the first half and while they rallied well the French started far better, leading 17-3 at one stage, the Lions must adopt the same strategy. Looking to the test selections I have assessed the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, and look at what the South Africans may have learned about Ian McGeechan side in the last few weeks?

Lion’s strengths:

Front row: For years the Springboks prided themselves on having the best and biggest scrummagers in the world. In the past the “Boks” literally had a conveyor belt of big, dynamic front-rowers, but that has changed over the past few years, and they are now forced to play their influential Captain and usual hooker John Smit on the tight head side of the scrum just to facilitate the Sharks hooker Bismarck du Plessis. In my opinion they are further weakened by the selection of the “Beast” Mtawarira, who is undoubtedly a good ball carrier but is an average scrummager. The Springboks now also lack the extra weight of Swalk Burger on the blindside, who is of course out with injury

Conversely while most of the home unions struggle to find good young props, this years Lions squad is strong in this particular area, and to date on this tour this has been the one area of complete Lions dominance in every game. If the Lions can gain the upper hand here again as they did in 1997 with the likes of Paul Wallace and Tom Smith, then this will severely negate the Springbok back-row and maul.

Centres: Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts are a perfect combination of both power and guile. Roberts will be used to crash the centres, and angle play back into to the Lions loose-forwards especially early on, so that the likes of David Wallace can get his hands on the ball, while O’Driscoll will use his deft grubber kicks to keep the aggressive South African backs deeper on defence. For some reason the South Africans have always failed to produce many world class centres in their history, with their selectors always seeming to favour the direct and hard running defensive type of players rather than faster, slick creative men.

South Africans Strengths.

Backrow: The perfect balance for any back-row is speed, atheltisim, power and height and in many ways South Africa has that perfect balance.  No 8 Pierre Spies is a tall, rangy type of player, who is very quick and powerful with the ball in hand and off the back of the scrum and a useful tail of the lineout jumper, and while Swalk Burgers muscle will be sorely missed, he is replaced by a similar type of nuggety, robust player in Heinrich Brussow, a player who has already caused the Lions serious problems at the breakdown on this tour. While Juan Smith is one of the most underrated players in the world and very good on the ground. The fact that Brussow has been selected on the open side of the scrum, upsets the balance a bit, with the real possibility of the Springboks playing a left and right system (i.e. there is no definite openside or blindside as such) and if this is the case there was a definite case for playing both Martyn Williams and David Wallace in the same way. Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip will have the edge over the Boks at lineout time; with Brussow a much shorter man than Burger and in fact Croft.

Second row: In Victor Matfield and Backies Botha the South African second row is again the ideal balance of the athletic Matfield and the bulk and power of Botha. Paul O’Connell certainly matches Botha’s physical side; Alun Wynn Jones must now match Matfields around the field and lineout ability. Croft and Heaslip add an extra jumper at the tail of the lineout, but expect O’Connell and Jones to come up against the best second row pairing in the world.

 

Crucial area of play: The breakdown: Enough has been said about the problems the Lions are having at the breakdown and the Lions must reverse this trend in the Test. The secret is to get more Lions players to the breakdown and blow the Boks off the ball, the game plan may also necessitate keeping the ball off the ground early on so that the likes of David Wallace are running with the ball rather than scrambling around on the ground.

What the Springboks may have seen:

Lee Byrne: A player who must be moved around the park rather than kicked directly too. A great counter attacker who also enters the Lions backline at superb angles. Excellent at his basic duties. A potential danger man if he is floated miss passes by the likes of O’Driscoll.

Tommy Bowe: While Bowe is not the quickest winger in the world he enters the backline to great effect, and has perfected the off load out of the tackle as well. The Springbok backs will look to turn him with deep, long kicks, rather than let him move onto the ball.

 Ugo Monye: Could be a dark horse or a disaster? Monye has dodgy enough hands, and is a weak kicker especially off his left foot, but he is deceptively quick and cannot be given space.

Jamie Roberts: The obvious crash, bash man and the Lions will look to get Roberts over the gain line from first phase ball so as to get the loose forwards moving onto the ball rather than retreating. His role is crucial in the Lions game plan, and must be gang tackled behind the gain line early on.

 Brian O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll is the creator, and will look to use his dipping body and deft grubber kicks to keep the Springbok backs deeper rather than flat. Will be marked hard, but that allows space elsewhere. The Springboks backs will be paranoid about coming up to early and to flat on O’Driscoll as he has an uncanny knack of breaking the first tackle.

Stephen Jones: Defends his 9-10 channel well and has the ability to get his hands through the tackle if allowed. Not electrically quick, and can lose his composure in pressure situations.

Mike Philips: Not the quickest pass delivery on tour, but immensely strong and effectively works as a 4th loose forward. Keeps the opposition back row locked down at scrum time, and therefore does not allow them to move off into the backs too quickly. Takes on a little too much himself at times, especially around the fringes of rucks and mauls, and the Springboks might just tempt him into the space, isolate him, then seal off his support from the back.

Jamie Heaslip. Will struggle to match possibly the worlds best No 8 Pierre Spies for pace, both around the park and off the back of the scrum, but Heaslip is an extremely intelligent footballer, and already one of the stars on tour. Will be asked to do a lot more of the donkey work this week given the scrums won’t be as one sided as they have been so far.

Tom Croft: Stephen Ferris would have probably grabbed this spot but Croft will worry the Springboks because they do not know too much about him. Fast and rangy, he is not as rugged as some of the Springboks, but his extra height will offer problems for the Boks especially at the tail of the lineout. The Boks will look to tie him in to defending mauls rather than using his pace in loose play.

David Wallace. May be a slight risk here, not in Wallace’s ability with ball in hand, but in the problem area of the turnover and breakdown, Wallace’s selection indicates that the Lions want a dynamic ball carrier, Williams will appear off the bench if play loosens up.

Paul O’Connell. The obvious man to take on the Boks at their own game. Needs to share the ball carrying duties a bit more as it is becoming too predictable, and he will not get any change out of the Springbok loose forwards.

Alun Wyn Jones: Athletic, but is also a slight risk if he cannot find a bit more grunt to counter the Springbok tight five, a good lineout man which is paramount to at least winning your own ball, but is going to have to work harder at the coal face alongside his captain.

Gethin Jenkins; Outstanding and dynamic tour, but wrongly pinged by referee Jonathan Kaplan. The South Africans will not have as much joy on Saturday with the ref and expect Jenkins and co to dominate here.

Lee Mears: The smallest man in both packs, but also dynamic. The South Africans will target his lack of size in getting the maul started, and like Tom Croft the South Africans will want him tied in at the coalface rather than ranging wide where he will create problems. They will also target him for turnovers.

Phil Vickery:   Hugely experienced and also a good ball carrier, will put severe pressure on an average looking South African scrum.

 

 

 

 

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Lions Rugby Team Announced For First Test – Bigger Is Better Against The Boks!

By admin · June 18, 2009 · Filed in British Lions, British Lions Tour, Lions Rugby, Lions Rugby Team, Lions Tour, Rugby News · Comments Off

The Lions Rugby Squad for Saturdays First Test with South Africa has been announced. And Yes the Lions Rugby Team management have gone for size in the main areas of debate in the test selection where David Wallace’s greater physical dimension at the breakdown is preferred to the speed of thought and livewire link play of Martin Williams who has to do with a place on the bench. More than likely the inclusion of the athletic but lightweight Tom Croft in the number 6 slot required some extra muscle in the backrow and Wallace benefited from his explosive ability with ball in hand and his greater firepower at cleaning the first man at ruck time.

The other key area of debate at the selection meeting must surely have been the left wing slot where Ugo Moyne has fought off challenges from the likes of Shane Williams, Luke Fitzgerald and Rob Kearney, Having said that he is just bigger that the other players is giving his recent performances a great disservice because he has been very sharp and indeed in the white heat of battle against the fiery Southern Kings he played very well with bad, slow ball going forward, tackled ferverently and most importantly caught and kicked the ball without error, which was supposed to be on of his weakneses.

The rest of the Test Team picked itself on recent form and here it is

15. Lee Byrne (Wales)

14. Tommy Bowe (Ireland)

13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

12. Jamie Roberts (Wales)

11. Ugo Moyne (England)

10. Stephen Jones (Wales)

09. Mike Phillips (Wales)

01. Gethin Jenkins (Wales)

02. Lee Mears (England)

03. Phil Vickery (England)

04. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

05. Paul O’Connell (Ireland, capt.)

06. Tom Croft (England)

07. David Wallace (Ireland)

08. Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

 

16. Matthew Rees (Wales)

17. Adam Jones (Wales)

18. Donnacha O’Callaghan (Ireland)

19. Martin Williams (Wales)

20. Harry Ellis (England)

21. Ronan O’Gara (Ireland)

22. Rob Kearney (Ireland)

 

 

 

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Lions Rugby Highlights- Where Can I Get To Watch Lions Tour Highlights Online?

By admin · June 5, 2009 · Filed in Lions Rugby · Comments Off

Lions Tour Rugby Highlights? The old chestnut, where can I watch the British Lions TV highlights online. The simple answer is nowhere legally unless you pay. If you go to skysports and register you can pay a monthly fee similar to their cable and satellite tv setup. I think that it is called skyplayer.

There are plenty of “FREE” sites where you simply share files with other users. The infamous PirateBay in Sweden successfully shared millions of copied video and music with friends until a protracted legal battle caught up with them.

If you google file sharing and bit torrent you will find “free” sites for just about anything including british lions rugby highlights but I don’t recommend these services if you have any concerns about internet security. To start sharing your computers memory with some anonymous server in another country is not an option for the faint hearted.

YouTube will have some rugby lions highlights available for a short while after the matches until they are removed by the companies who own the rights to the images.

Get SkySports in or if you are a real sports fan  go to the local pub or rugby club and shout on the British and Irish Lions in real style with a noisy bunch of rugby nuts beside you!

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lions 09 tour to south africa highlights?

By admin · May 28, 2009 · Filed in Lions Tour · 2 Comments »

i don’t have sky and i want to at least see highlights of the lions tour, is there anyway i can see highlights either online or on t.v?

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