Lions fall agonisingly short in first Test

The British and Irish Lions were left ruing missed chances after falling 5 points short in their (almost) historic comeback against the Springboks.

Having been demolished at the set piece for 50 minutes, South Africa built a commanding lead, and although Paul O’Connell’s men played more attractive rugby and created more chances, they were unable to score one more try that would have secured the victory.

We’ll be bringing more analysis and opinion this week, and previewing the last-chance Second Test next week, but we wanted to publish a short post where you can share your views on the game.

Let us know what you think….

7 thoughts on “Lions fall agonisingly short in first Test

  1. The Springboks certainly won the crucial forward battle in the first half, culminating in that impressive rolling maul shortly after half-time which led to Brussow’s try. But then they seemed to completely lose their intensity, and if it wasn’t for their excellent goal-line defence which stopped 3 certain Lions tries, the Lions would have taken it.
    It was an interesting one to watch, with lots of positives on both sides. Hopefully we’ll see more of the same next week!

  2. Random thoughts….

    Highlights –
    1. De Villiers’ fantastic ‘save’ on Monye in the first half – pure class.
    2. The combination of O’Driscoll and Roberts. I think SA will drop Jacobs – he was all over the place in defence.
    3. Tom Croft being in the right place at the right time to take his tries. You can’t coach that.
    4. Croft’s tackling at the restarts – excellent work.
    5. Kearney- looked the part when came on. I still think they will stick with Byrne for the second test.
    6, Matthew Rees – did well when he came on. But it was endgame rugby when he came on – Mears would have probably played as well if he had come on that stage. Mears will probably get another run.
    7. Adam Jones – ’nuff said.

    1. Stephen Jones’ place kicking in first half. Proved costly
    2. Byrne’s kicking out of hand was never a threat.
    3. Vickery’s performance at the scrum – how can such an experienced campaigner get absolutely cleaned ? Plus flopping in at the breakdown conceding penalties – unforgivable. Bye bye Mr. Vickery
    4. Monye’s failure to finish off his chances – switching the ball to his outside arm should come naturally and his body position was all wrong. He may play again but I reckon Fitzgerald being a better footballer would have finished them.
    5. That shambolic exchange between the ref and the TMO upstairs following Monye’s non try in the first half – embarrassing for such a high profile match.
    Ref looked a bit panicky at times.
    6. Mike Phillips passing was a bit slow.

  3. Did anyone else notice as well that the ref was looking to the SA players before the touch judges for decisions? Players were being taken out without the ball, yet nothing was done about it. Twice the ref gave us advantage but then allowed SA to run the ball out of their 22. The communication problems between the ref and the 3rd official was disgraceful. Rees got a warning over his supposed punch (which the touch judge did manage to see from 30 metres away) but yet nothing was said to the SA player who was stood over BOD threatening to punch him. I agree with Rees being warned, but where was the consistency? Even the commentators were saying the SA players should have received a yellow card in the last 15 mins, but nothing was done. Why? I thought it was a good game on saturday, but spoilt by poor refereeing yet again.

    I was speaking to a couple of SA’s after the game and we were in complete agreement – the standard of refereeing nowadays is appalling. The fact that there is such a difference between northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere reffing is a joke. The game is rugby, no matter where you are in the world. It is governed by the same body (IRB) and has the same rules and laws. So why is it that each ref has a different interuptation of the rules and laws? How can any player in the world be expected to have any form of consistency if the ref’s don’t? I been saying this for over 2 years now – the IRB need to do a complete overhaul of the reffing structure and enforce consistency amongst the ref’s.

    That said, I’m not blaming the ref for us losing. As far as I was concerned, the only Lions that had a very good game and proved they deserved their place was Jenkins, Croft, Wallace, Roberts. Vickery lost us the first half with possibly the worst performance of his career. Stephen Jones’s control of the game was awful. His kicking and defence equally as bad. Heaslip was no existent. Bowe wasn’t used enough. Monye needs to go bad to basics. Wyn Jones made a few good tackles but not much else. Phillips was unbelievably slow in passing. Byrne’s kicking was a liability. Mears, Adam Jones, POC, BOD, Kearney had ok games. There also seemed to be no real aggression or desire to win for 65 mins of the game, then all of a sudden they seemed to come to life and realise that they were actually playing a test match against the Boks.

    I geninuely believe that we can beat the Boks and win the series, but Vickery and Stephen Jones cannot be involved. The pack needs to be more aggressive, possibly in the form of Shaw of Hines, and the backs need to play to our strengths.

  4. More leadership needed up front. Who is running the line-out? Questionable decision to have Mears throwing long in the first couple of the game – hit the front and middle first to build momentum and confidence. Who is running the scrum? How was Vickery left to flounder for so long without, apparently, any influence from POC behind him? Vickery showed what we’ve always known about him – scrummaging is not his forte, and he should not have started this game. And having pint-sized Mears inside him did not help. But Johnno would never have let that happen to his front row. Also, time for Rowntree to wise up and show them how to counter the highly dubious technique of the so-called beast. I hope the ref watched the replays. To say he was boring in is to understate things considerably. Most of the time it looked like he wanted to play tight-head. But the team should have been more worldly-wise than that. Welsh front 3 this weekend I hope.

    Back line looking great, but in my view we need a change at 10. Jones did not make much impact on the game and his kicking was unreliable. I’m going to guess we will start with Hook this time.

    One final point – all this talk about “this is your Everest” and the stirring speeches that supposedly made for an “emotional” dressing room before the game….so how’s that working? Seems to me we need more focus on gameplan. We seemed to lack focus in the first half and appeared overawed by the occasion. Because of this, we failed to manage the game and made some stupid decisions. Sure, get them pumped up, but they also need to be totally focused on executing the plan.

    If we can take a lead into the first half this week, we should win. They have to get it right from the first kick. Come on boys!

  5. After reviewing the warm up matches, the 1st test and depending on availability, this would be my team for 2nd test. Thoughts?

    15. Byrne (has 1 more chance to prove his class. If not, Kearney for 3rd test)
    14. Bowe
    13. BOD
    12. Roberts
    11. Monye (same as Byrne. Has one more chance, then look to Fitzgerald or Williams)
    10. Hook
    9. Phillips (however his passing needs to improve, drastically!!!)
    8. Heaslip (Needs to have a big impact this game, otherwise Powell for 3rd test)
    7. Williams (Tough on Wallace, but Williams has more impact at the breakdowns)
    6. Croft
    5. Shaw (Tough on Wyn Jones, but need more weight and power in the 2nd row)
    4. POC (If he wasn’t captain, would he be in the starting team?)
    3. Adams
    2. Mears (Has 1 more chance to prove himself)
    1. Jenkins

    16. Ford or Rees
    17. Sheridan (If fit. If not Hayes)
    18. Hines
    19. Powell/Worsley/Wallace
    20. Ellis
    21. O’gara
    22. Kearney

    Completely agree about the leadership. The only one on Saturday who seemed to encouraging the players on the pitch was Williams (and he was only on for about 10 mins at the end).

    Here’s hoping for a good result tonight

  6. I’d go for that team. I might be inclined to go with Rees at 2, but it’s a close call. Jones is an option at 3, but I did notice watching the game again this morning that he also got popped up a couple of times while the beast was still on. Vickery got all the stick on Saturday, but Jones or Adams may also struggle. That also makes me think about Rees at 2 – to give the tighthead a stronger foundation.

    I think what you’re saying at 4/5 Tommy is that ideally it would be Wyn Jones and Shaw, but they are not going to drop POC so Wyn Jones has to make way. Makes you wonder whether they shouldn’t have stuck with BOD as captain, but then I guess they couldn’t have been sure he would have played as well as he has.

    We really do need Heaslip to have a big game. As much as I like Powell, I think he will struggle to make an impact against such physical opposition.

    It’s a pity Sheridan can’t play at 3. It would be satisfying to see him give some back. Also a pity that he’s been so disappointing outside of the scrum. The commentators on Setanta (using a feed from a Bok channel) keep referring to his legendary bench-pressing prowess….give me a break.

  7. Actually, on form I’d start O’callaghan and Shaw together. But there is no way they will drop the team captain. Personally think they should – might encourage Poc to regain his form and leadership skills.

    As for competing against the beast, wouldn’t mind seeing Jenkins switched to 3 and Sheridan at 1. Think Jenkins would handle the beast better than anyone else that can play 3, and then sheridan can destroy the other side of the scrum. But that depends on Sheridan being fit first.

    Powell has just played his way out of any chance of a test match. He was his usual one-dimensional self, made no real impact and gave away lots of penalties. That leaves Heaslip, Wallace, Williams and Worsley fighting for 7 and 8, with Croft a certainity at 6

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