After a couple of days of counting the wounded with Stephen Ferris and Leigh Halfpenny being invalided back to Blighty, the Lions turned in their second consecutive impressive midweek performance, defeating the Natal Sharks 39-3. The midweek teams have been anything but dirt-trackers so far, generally looking stronger than the Saturday teams, as demonstrated by a marked difference in the scorelines.
The brevity of this tour dictates that there really is no differentiation between the two but the likes of O’Connell, Roberts, O’Driscoll and Phillips, racing certainties for the test team, have been handed Wednesday starts thus far. It will be interesting to see how the squad will be managed over the next week, whether they maintain the spirit of giving everyone a crack or start to wrap the key men in cotton wool.
The win was achieved through tries from Lee Mears, Mike Phillips, Luke Fitzgerald, Lee Byrne and Jamie Heaslip to go with 14 points from the boots of Ronan O’Gara and James Hook. With the possession enjoyed by the Lions it really could and should have been more and they will have to develop a ruthlessness over the next 10 days.
Still, it was a convincing win, if not punctuated by fireworks. It was the win of a team with burgeoning confidence and a few more building blocks fell into place. However, there remain plenty of areas for improvement and plenty of questions regarding test selection still to be answered. A fuller report will go up later in the day but in the meantime, share your thoughts on the latest Lions victory below.