70 thoughts on “Rate the match: Australia v Lions, First Test

  1. What a test match! Amazing.

    I don’t think its a performance we can be particularly happy with. With the complete desolation of their backline we should have put them away. Mowen had Phillips in his pocket. Vunipola proved Gatland right. Set piece was solid but we didn’t get quality ball from either the lineout or the scrum to launch great attacks off.

    Positives for me were Tom Youngs energy, Sexton, 1/2p (obviously), North.

  2. Wonderful, to win.

    Got to say how many times have we seen them play badly and win, so great that we did it this time.

    Thought the starting tight 5 were really good, the maul, the scrum, the loose, they were awesome.

    Vunipolo can’t play, his lack of scrummaging skills almost lost us the match, scrum went to hell when he came on. Corbs must play the whole game, thought he was good in the loose too.

    Phillips should, but probably won’t, he was terrible, his power was nowhere to be seen and Sexton – great game – was dealing with really slow ball. I would prefer Youngs from the start, but doubt it.

    breakdown has to be looked at,

    but what about those wingers ehhh, man can they beat a man or two, or three. We need to get them the ball more.

    1. Front row replacements were very poor across the board, it did seem to be Cole’s side of the scrum that was retreating more than Vunipola’s. Thought Cole was a little lucky at a couple of breakdowns as well.

      Agree starting tight 5 were excellent though, Corbs, Youngs and AWJ in particular.

    1. Really hope he gets properly looked after and doesn’t relapse. Thought he really brought the Wallaby backline to life.

      1. the most important thing that anyone can say to Beale is “there are still two more games, chin up”

        the lions won in Brisbane 12 years ago, and they lost the series. this tour is a long way from done.

        this is a similar message that should be said to the lions as well. the first test is one thing, but the 2nd is the most important.

  3. Well a wins a win but the Lions did their best to shoot themselves in the foot, AJ & Corbs replaced far too early (51 mins)& any advantage in the scrum was lost, nearly cost them the game.
    Think they will have to up the performance next week & they will know it wasn’t as good as it should have been.

  4. What a relief! Tight 5 excellent, still not convinced on the back row balance, Heaslip went pretty well (and took more lineout ball) so maybe Lydiate or SOB come in next week.

    Phililps wasn’t great, kicked too deep and delivery of ball was too slow. I’m still a little baffled that we didn’t see Sexton and Youngs in a warm up game.

    Sexton, Davies and BOD weren’t really telepathic, but though they all had exceptional games individually.

    Cuthbert started well, seemed to fade out after his knock on, but what a way to bounce back.

    North! How lucky are we to get 2 more chances to see North Vs Folau, incredible players. North scored the better try but maybe Folau with his 2 and a save on North (plus his maagic high ball work) just shades it, a 9.5 vs a 9!

    1/2p, if Deans wasn’t sure of the value of a specialist kicker, he is now!

    Was really underwhelmed by the front row replacements collectively, thought their introduction would really turn the screw. In the end it was almost the Lions who were screwed.

    Chris Pollock? Chris Bollock! Poor and inconsistent, we get pinged they get “Gold 7 hands off” all game. Moore flops over a ruck, whistle goes, Moore looks round sheepishly, penalty to Wallabies. Really pleased he didn’t influence the result, so it’s a footnote rather than a talking point.

    1. Couldn’t agree more regarding Pollock. Insanely bias, I didn’t hear him tell Genia to “use it” once, he had all the time in the world. Phillips on the other hand was getting the warning within a second of the ball being grounded. Likewise with the fetchers, when Hooper get’s a hands off warning, Lions get pinged. Shockingly inconsistent refereeing.

      Warburton’s decision making was extremely poor. Twice he chose to kick for points when a 5m scrum was an option, yet when we’re clinching a 2 point lead with 10 minutes to go, he chooses to pack down instead of giving it to Halfpenny, despite the fact that our front row was not nearly as dominant at that stage.

      Not a brilliant victory but a victory nonetheless. We’ve answered some questions (particularly about Vunipola vs Corbisiero) and we did it without sacrificing a win to do so. That and the immense atmosphere at the local means I’ve given it a round 8. Thoroughly enjoyable match with immeasurable tension, but let down by a few individual performances and a sleazy referee.
      The cheers of relief when Beale slipped; priceless.

  5. Fortunate win, but we’ll take it.

    Tight 5 were strong, especially T Youngs & Corbs. I’d still take Faletau over Heaslip for back-row balance with SOB as the replacement.

    Replacement front row were very disappointing – Grant or even Stevens (who can cover both sides) & Cole in extremis might have become safer bench loosehead options over Vunipola who, despite his good points in the loose, can be a penalty liability in scrum and breakdown.

    Phillips was very average indeed – replace with Youngs & have Phillips on the bench. He’s actually been poor since the BaaBaas match and got away with it, but i think folk had got a bit carried away after the first match & failed to notice.

    Back line were fine & i’d be inclined to stick with it, but it will depend on what happens on Tue. Hopefully we’ll get to see Tuilagi, Roberts, Bowe & Zebo all get a run out & press their claims & I’d like to see a half each at Full-Back for both Hogg & Kearney. So there could be a change in the back 5, if perhaps only for one bench spot.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Aussies have to reorganise in the backs following the injuries. I thought it an odd decision to put a 7 in the centres with a 9 on the bench would have had more feel for backplay. Just imagine if we’d lost 3 of our back 5 – Maitland would have been OK in the back 3, Farrell OK in the centres, but we’d have ended up with one of the Youngs brothers, Phillips, Warburton or Croft somewhere in the back 5 too! Far from ideal……….so let’s not get carried away, especially given the place-kicking comparison. Bring it on next week – and more scrums in the first half please…….

    1. Not a problem, T.Youngs’ history as a centre is clearly still noticeable. Shift him there and bring Hibbard on. It can’t go that wrong, can it? Even if it does; it’ll be more exciting to watch than playing Barritt there.

  6. Tense game, with some strange choices by the referee, obviously the breakdown but also a lack of “use it” calls a few times. Shame really, meant that Warburton and BOD didn’t get a chance to use their skills there.

    Halfpenny was excellent, although it seems like Gatland doesn’t want to use him in attack in case he gets crocked. Wingers both very good (Although Australia’s were incredible), but Cuthbert needs to be patient and position himself better in defence.

    BOD and Davies aren’t a natural pairing, Davies didn’t seem to be able to get across gainline or worry the Aussies defence well enough, so BOS didn’t have much space to attack into. Sexton was excellent, some lovely kicks and couple of great passes, but needs a better option outside of him to really fire (Tuilagi seems the only good choice at the moment really, Roberts seems to be a lot slower than he used to and much more hesitant)

    Mike Phillips was atrocious, kicking straight to the most dangerous counter attacking back 3 in world rugby, choosing to kick when the Lions had absolutely no chance of organising a chase, running into dead ends and getting turned over. With Sexton outside him, you’d have thought he’d get the ball out ASAP, but Australia had him wrapped around their little finger.

    Jamie Heaslip was OK, but didn’t have much oomph, needs someone like Faletau or Morgan to give some impetus. Croft was OK, never really got a chance to run intoo space but excellent at the lineout as always. Warburton was OK, seemed to flop a bit too much at the breakdown, but was never given a chance to contest.

    Front five were very good, especially Corbs, great to see him back. Youngs was excellent, can definitely see the centre in him!

    Replacements did upset the good balance we had earlier, just glad Aus dont have a better kicker!

    Roll on the Rebels then next Saturday!

  7. Incredible finish!, as said the tight 5 were very good, and we really lose impetus in the scrum when AWJ and AJ came off, Dan Cole looked a bit suspect up front when he came on, thought the 2nd row combo went well. The back row weren’t great, Croft looked the weak-link to me, Warbs was making all the tackles and Heaslip was taking the lineout ball, thought the lineout was meant to be the main reason he was picked? Phillips looked slow and demotivated but anyone can have a poor game so I’d stick with him for next week, his lack of effort to get back at Genia for the first try was amazing! Sexton looked good individually as always and showed his class during the tight moments of the 2nd half, but a bit more kicking behind would’ve been useful. North looked amazing today but he may have just been edged by Folau, how long before he’s the star of rugby? Cuthbert was good when he got the ball in hand but again he was a bit suspect defensively, it would be nice to have Bowe back next week, the centre combination wasn’t great but JD was out of position and they hadn’t played together before, it’ll be interesting to see who’s taken out, JD has been the form centre on tour but could you really take out one of the all time greats? Halfpennys kicking was once again superb, only changes next week for me would be Bowe for Cuthbert, Tuilagi in for ? and SOB/Lydiate in for Croft.

  8. And may I add my smirking commiserations to Leali’ifano. 54 seconds into his international debut and he’s knocked out cold. Poor sod.

    1. Luck !yes Australia were very lucky to have that ref to try and give them the game .What was the last scrum penalty for for example it was a reset at best .

      First Aussie try advantage over for the Lions what advantage! 3 Aussie players over the ball lying on the floor penalty to them brilliant try courtesy of Genia but it should have been 3-0 Lions not 7-0 other way .

      I could go on but if you’ve got Lions players afraid to compete for the ball like O’Driscoll in his third flanker role because the ref pings him for the kind of play he’s been celebrated for during the last decade then you’ve got another ref out to make a name for himself for the wrong reasons .

      Anyway nice to see the Aussies lose out on the stealing the game stakes at the death for once .Roll on next week and decent ref I live in hope.

  9. Incredible game. North was fantastic and Cuthbert shows what you gain by risking playing a relative newbie – defence a little off but a brilliantly taken score. Hard to believe how rubbish Cardiff are given what their players did today.

    Was dissapointed to see the ref turn it into a game of league – no contest allowed in the scrum or tackle area. Replacement front row were rubbish and came on far too early.

    Would like to see an improvement next week and the teams allowed to play actual rugby rather than just allowed to run and pass.

  10. What a game! Well played both teams, Australia desperately unlucky with injuries, hope none are too serious.

    Can’t wait for the next two tests!

  11. Front five very good. Probably corbs or youngs were the best. Back row didnt work. Heaslip was the best of the three. Phillips needs to be dropped. One trick pony and thr aussies have worked him out. Centre combo didnt work brilliantly. BoD needs a player to work off. Hope tuilagi is back for next game. Cuthnert ok. hpy and north excellent.

    Lions were lucky. Second best team on show. Gats needs to change things. Am worried he wont. Impact subs are meant to help things. ours hindered. Cole and mako cant scrummage and hibbard tackles worse than ashton. someone please tell him the highlight reel only shows you if you nail them, not if you miss them. Although we won, im actually rather disappointed. expected much more.

  12. Also disappointed by the breakdown officiating. I don’t think it benefitted either side, other than any prolonged period of possession inevitably ended in a kick at goal.

    Also a little worried about how often the Aussies were able to carve up the Lions.

    For next week, I thought the Croft/Heaslip combo didn’t work well enough and I’d go for bringing in either O’Brien or Faletau. The midfield combos didn’t come off either, so I suspect Davies is the unlucky man though I thought he outplayed BOD, and Tuilagi will come in.

    Overall, enjoyable fast paced game played in good spirits, with both sides coming away with reasons to feel hopeful and with considerable areas of concern.

    Surely the Wallabies will pick a full time goalkicker, though. 6 missed kicks is crazy at this level.

  13. just watched the highlights. still pretty scary. not clear why we were penalised at the end, but should have got the ball out earlier. agree that the replacement of the props was too early – is a prop like adam jones, immense player tho’ he is, so used to being subbed that he can’t do 70-80 mins in a big game? torn out about whether to change back row format, or give the unit another chance to get stronger. and also about phillips – surely he can’t be that poor again, and will step up? no debate about 10, 11, 15, but what about 12, 13, 14? is BOD undroppable? were he and JD the perfect combo or should roberts (if fit) or tuilagi be considered? tuilagi potentially a good bench option covering centre and wing…

    shame we don’t get northern hem ref until T3 (poite) – would like the francais next w/e to increase the chances that we can utilise scrum power as a key ingredient in sealing the series win. instead we get joubert. the difference in reffing scrum (& to lesser extent breakdown) between NH and SH refs has become a joke – must be sorted out by 2015.

    last thing. beale’s last kick crossed dead-ball line with clock on 79:49, and on 79:56 the final whistle was blown – why? as in a lot of occasions, the lions seemed to have the rub here, altho’ the non yellow card for Aus on stroke of HT was an exception to this.

  14. Front row good,2nd row excellent ,back row not the right mixture(SOB required),Phillips form has stagnated,Sexton classy and composed,both wings and Halfpenny outstanding. Centres ok but crashing 12 required.Bench did not have the required impact. Hopefully with injured players returning we will go back to Gatlands’s original gameplan and get better ” game management” (his words). Manu or Roberts need to come in at 12,Youngs at 9.Hibbard should start so Youngs can offer the better bench impact.We rode our luck,but 1 test up puts us in a brilliant position .Although the kitchen sink awaits us in Melbourne, we must do our upmost to finish them there or the momentum will shift back to them.

    1. If you think Hibbard should start, i suggest you watch the game again. Youngs was outsanding yesterday. Carried and tackled his heart out. Part of a dominant front 3 in the scrum and hit his jumpers at every linerout. Hibbard came on, and the only thing he did was to miss two tackles because he went for big hits rather than trying to wrap the player up. Terrible. IMO he’s lucky Hartleys an idiot and Bests lost form as he shouldnt otherwise be near the test squad.

  15. I may have been slightly inebriated at the time but i thought croft had a barnstormong game! He didnt win Turn overs, He didnt score a wonder try but he did everything brighty has ever criticised him of not doing… he was imperious in the lineout and hit many a ruck whilst shoring up the narrow channel defence as lydiate would do….

  16. Bennie, no better a point made. I’m getting tired of lazy criticisms of players that might not hit the stats heights but if they were not present boy would we have missed their presence! Craft did a great job of not ‘sticking on the wing ‘ and put his body on the line like a good 6 should.let’s not overcook the failure of the lions back row today because I feel we had to stop short of competing at tackle area due to a completely inept referee. Can’t wait till the last test ( think Roman poit) when we might see a game where scrum and breakdown are part of rugby again. Woodward once said before 2003 that you have to beat 16 men down under if you are to win anything.

  17. To be fair, the backrow is about balance, not everyone making all the tackles. I thought it worked quite well. Warburton made his tackles, Croft did his usual excellent running (and tackling 8/0) and took 4 of the lineouts. I personally thoght the backrow looked fine. I certainly wouldn’t want to bring Lydiate in who had no game time coming into the tour and looked woeful when he did. Still very surprised SOB wasn’t on the bench to be honest.

    I thought Phillips was poor. Pretty much what I was concerned about. Fancying picking and going against an organised outfit and he got smashed back everytime. Unfortunately ESPN only give forward carrying stats not in reverse. His distribution at times seemed iffy too. I expect to see Youngs to start the next test.

    The Aussie scrummaging was it’s usual suspect. The two penalties they got at the end were clearly driving in at an angle and then down – in front of the referee. Massively unimpressed by the refereeing in general. People are saying it was Cole, but he wasn’t pinged once

    Disappointed by the centre combo. Thought they’d be brilliant, but I still think that BOD + a bulldozer would be a better combo (or JD + bulldozer). Hopefully we’ll see Manu back next week.

    Cuthbert was only okay. I didn’t expect him to be up for much. Took his try very well, but otherwise a bit quiet and cumbersome

    1. Agree with all wookie says here.

      And to back some others up, croft had a game where he was playing a tight role, and people still criticise… It is pretty obvious that some people don’t like croft. It was a pretty solid game from him, and I would expect him to start next week too.

      The ref’s interpretation at the breakdown completely ruined the lions in defence. They spent the whole game just having to let the Aussies have the ball until they chose to kick or give it away. You are always going to struggle defensively.

      Finlay’s first try was a cracker, and great from Genia, but it wasn’t a penalty to the wallabies. The amount of hold shirts flopping over was insane. That being said, the lions should have said “we will have the penalty” and not bothered with the advantage. Take the shot, 3-0 as opposed to 0-7.

      Would like to see Manu at 12 next week. I want him to have a half against the rebels, then come off.

      Agree regarding Cuthbert, excellent try, but little else to impress. Bowe should come back in. I would let Cuthbert have the bench spot though (after all, it’s harsh to totally drop him after that finish…)

  18. Anyone else seen Horwill’s stamp yet? I find it hard to see him talking himself out of that one… Thoughts?

  19. Jamie heaslip was prob the stand out preformance in the back row. I didnt think he should have started the game but i have to say he proved me wrong. tom croft lineout jumper??? What about heaslip how many lineouts did he win atleast 4/5. Hope gatland realises he doesnt need crotf and heaslip he just needs 1 and heaslip should be the man given the game he had. I think we need to bring in ether lydiate or o brien at 6 it will improve use at the break down and will work better with and impove warburton espacily as i think the breakdown will be much more important in the 2nd test with the new ref. Just on the ref what a hash he made of the breakdown bod sumed it up penalized twice for what he would normaly be getting a pat on the back for wtf. Please god give use a desent 6 and roberts or tuilagi at 12 gatland. Come on the lions

    1. Karl, no disrespect buddy, but I completely disagree with your assessment of the lineout.

      Much like having Manu in the backs (drawing 2 defenders to create space for his teammates) having croft creates space in the lineout.

      With croft, POC and AWJ the lions have 3 excellent jumpers. This means that the wallabies have to mark them, using Mowen, Horwill and Douglas. This means that Heaslip and Warburton (not specialist, but still pretty decent jumpers) are being marked by Palu and Hooper (would be a stretch to call them “decent” jumpers). This means that the most “space” (unmarked/weaker defence areas) in the lineout are actually around Heaslip and Warburton. The lions would be silly not to throw to these guys, as although they are not super jumpers, both are better than their opponent.

      Dropping croft for someone like Lydiate or SOB would mean that suddenly Heaslip is being marked by a much stronger jumper than himself.

      Croft still took about 4 lineouts, so he wasn’t doing nothing. Also, also the lions threw to Heaslip because it was unexpected. As a lineout caller, you often try and chuck in something unexpected, so the opposition would be a bit surprised. Not only do you win that lineout, but you throw and element of doubt in for them. Suddenly they start marking Heaslip, meaning one of Croft, POC or AWJ becomes free.

      The backrow gatland picked was actually the best available for attacking the lineout.

      Similarly, the breakdown issue was more down to the ref, not the backrow. I felt croft really rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in (something many criticised him for not doing).

      A change to the backrow would be pretty silly in my mind, I think that – especially dealing with that ref – they did relatively well.

    2. Have to agree with Simo here. Heaslip got those catches because of the marking. Also think it would be pointless having more competition at the breakdown if Joubert is reffing? (which I think he is for 2nd test) as the SH refs don’t like you competing like we do at the breakdown. Countless times we had the first man at the breakdown, but Pollock still gave the Aussies a penalty. If you’re the first man there, get hands on the ball, and are on your feet, it should be your ball.

      1. Dont agree regarding Joubert. Joubert refs a lot during the 6N, and while he is whistle happy, he’s just as happy to award the defending team for competing on their feet as he is anything else. Pollock just seemed to be on some sort of insane mission not to allow the defending team any chance of winning the ball back.

    3. Thought Heaslip continued his poor form for the first 60 minutes but had better last 20 minutes when he decided to get involved in some forwards play, rucking, tackling etc. Which was nice. Falatau far higher work rate in my view. Ben Morgan would have had the best go forward of the 3, and if he’d stayed welsh, he would have been a Lion..

      1. Morgan would have been a lion had he not been injured during the 6Ns.

        To say if he had been welsh is just naive and going to tick people off.

        As an englishman I totally disagree with that idea, and like I said, had Morgan been fit for the whole 6Ns he would have toured over Heaslip.

        The difference was, Heaslip played all 6Ns. He then has top class club games to end the season (chance Morgan didnt have). I think his leadership was also a contributing factor, many touted him to be the midweek captain. But his performances on tour have been much better than 6Ns, so it’s hard to leave him out of the test team.

        1. The point being was that the benefit of the doubt seemed to be extended to a few welsh players eg Rob Kearney, Shane Williams, gethin jenkins (and to a lesser extent warburton) – that was not given to others. Where previous form counts for more than current fitness/form. It goes uncommented if it works.
          Heaslip had a very poor 6 Nations. And Heinekin Cup. And the leadership role that was put on him didnt seem to sit comfortably. I don’t believe his Lions form has improved much – and certainly not enough to warrant starting. Hooper and pals dog it more at the breakdown – which is when Heaslip is often missing in action.

          1. Jim, i think you’ve proved that this is just English paranoia – you might want to look Kearney up on Wikipedia. As a proud irishman, with a stack of Irish caps, HCs for Leinster, etc. I’m sure he has no interest in joining Wales.

            Shane Williams – seriously chucking that in there when we know he was just there as he had his boots on him? I don’t see you mentioning the other debutants in that match, Wade and 12Ts?

            Then you go on to Heaslip – again, not Welsh so not given any benefit of the doubt for being Welsh.

            Admit it, this is just bitterness that a Welsh coach didn’t pick your fave English players.

      2. Jim, what on earth are you saying……..? Actually if he’d chosen Wales, he wouldn’t have played because they rather like Faletau, so he wouldn’t even have been considered.

      3. Jim, to give you the benefit of the doubt are you implying Morgan would have looked a better 8 in the Welsh side because they have a better pack/backrow?

        Or is this one of those lazy, bitter loser, one-eyed “Gats picks the Welsh boys even when they’re not the best option” jibes?

        As others have said here (and as was discussed a lot on Wales when he was rumoured to be “making his mind up” about which country to rep*) he wouldn’t be 1st choice 8 in Wales anyway.

        *I say rumoured because I’ve read interviews since which impressed me where he said that even if he was 4th choice English 8 he was still going to go for playing for England because, well, he’s English. I liked that and am glad he’s not a tourist.

      4. Brighty, can we stop with the whole “English paranoia” lark. As you may see (when the comments are fully loaded) a number of Englishmen have responded saying that this is hogwash.

        Clearly (based on the “Kearney is welsh” comment) we can chalk this one up to individual ignorance as opposed to nationalistic paranoia.

        1. Simo, he is clearly English and has this paranoia about Gatland based on Gats not picking his fave English players, that’s all I meant. I myself am constantly lambasted for being Welsh this, or Welsh that despite not representing the entire nation. I’ve even had the tiresome Taff/Taffy jibe.

          I wasn’t saying all English have this paranoia.

      5. Brighty, I totally get where you are coming from, I just wanted to try and get all to avoid the national debate (as its happened so much!) because in this situation 1 person is making a statement that the majority (other Englishmen) don’t agree with.

        The fact is, regarding 8’s Faletau was always going to tour, because he has been one of, if not the, best 8 of the 4 nations. Morgan would likely have toured had he been fit. He wasn’t, therefore Heaslip was considered more. Ultimately the choice came down to Heaslip or Morgan. Gatland choosing “his favourite welsh” had nothing to do with it on this occasion, as Faletau had already justified his selection.

        Also to try and prove my point, I will justify it by the fact that Gatkand has openly admitted to Jamie Heaslip being the final name selected.

        There is no welsh coaching bias when it came to the number 8 position. If there was, then surely Faleatu would have started the 1st test… (Ps brighty, the majority of this is for Jim, not you, as clearly we are on be same page – for once!)

  20. Noone else is saying it so I will: JOC lost the Aussies that match. The breaks seemed to go their way and Folau was awesome. They were classic vintage Australia at their best, running from deep to score opportunistic tries. If Beale was kicking from the beginning or Cooper was on, the result would have been different.

    But, fact is the Lions won! Let’s just hope they can win the second test and wrap it up.

    1. “If Beale was kicking from the beginning”

      The same Beale who missed the last two pens?

      goal kicking in general lost the Aussies the game, they left 14 points on the field, they only needed 3. That being said, the first two missed ones SHOULD have been pens to the lions. Similarly, what the last pen was for is beyond me.

      Also the wallabies should have had someone binned just before the half. Hooper was lucky not to get binned when North almost got a 2nd (Hooper pulled down the maul that had great momentum). AND the wallabies should have been pinged for going off their feet, but instead they got the pen that lead to their first try…

      The wallabies lost the first test (as opposed to lions winning it) but the ref did everything to help them get close to winning.

      1. The last penalty was a farce. They had two players standing up in the scrum not bound, and he gave no indication of why the penalty had been awarded. Don’t know what Pollocks problem was!

    2. I agree with you on JOC, he simply had a bad day with the boot. According to Fox Sports, Lealiifano was supposed to kick anyway (I wonder if the Lions knew and targeted him from the start). Having said that, in his other Wallabies game at 10 (vs Wales in 2011) his goalkicking was also below par.
      It’s hard to argue for Beale as first choice kicker mind, JOC has been first choice Wallabies kicker since 2010 and has kicked for the Rebels ahead of Beale all season.
      Having seen the replacements (Ben Tapuai, Jesse Mogg and George Smith) it would seem it will be JOC or Beale kicking next week too, possibly with the backline lining up like this (just a stab in the dark):
      Genia, Beale, Ioane, JOC, AAC, Folau, Mogg (Auusming Ioane and AAC are fit of course)
      Phipps, Tapuai and AN Other outside back on the bench
      Maybe with JOC at his more natural position at 12 he will be able to focus more on his goalkicking. However, I can’t see the Aussies winning this one either, Lions by 10-15.

  21. OM – not sure what you are talking about re. the Lions targeting Lealiifano. He knocked himself out making a tackle in the first minute. Not exactly O’Dricoll territory!

    Also JOC has said 10 not 12 is his preferred position, but wasn’t impressed by him really at 10.

    1. I’m not suggesting that they knocked Lealiifano out deliberately, just that they sent their runners at the debutant that was also going to kick the goals to try and put him off his game as much as possible.
      Re JOC, I think 12 plays to his strengths (fast, runs rather than passes, rarely kicks from hand) more than 10. Which one he enjoys more is a completely different matter.

      1. Whether the lions knew who was kicking or not is up for debate (they had a lot of options on the field)

        But I do think they decided to run at him early. It was nothing malicious, just simply rugby. Gatland always has his biggest runner hit up off first phase ball. Davies would have run at that channel regardless of who was in it, I just think the fact that they had a debutant (who hadn’t played any competitive rugby for 3 weeks) standing at 12 made it all the easier a choice.

        I wonder whether the lack of game time was a contributing factor to the wallaby injuries. They hadn’t played for 3 weeks, and are chucked into a lions test (said to apparently be about 10-15% more intense than a usual test match).

      2. OK understood, but still not sure I agree with you. The 12 channel is always going to be a fairly direct route with Gatland teams and the aussies knew that, so you haven’t convinced me yet.

        I do agree that JOC didn’t look like an international 10 yesterday and maybe better at 12, but was saying that he wants to play at 10. Whether Deans agrees again will be an interesting point.

  22. Well it wouldn’t be a lions tour if a host nation player didn’t escape a clear ban in the first test!

    word is POC has broken a hand… That’s a big worry.

  23. Whilst he has been brilliant, there has been complete hypocrisy regarding North’s finger wag.

    Armitage was taken to the cleaners re: his wave, and North’s actions were no different. Shows the completely different treatment the media gives Eng and especially high profile players (ashton, cip etc).

    No place for it, gone down in my estimation.

    1. Robbo, completely agree. I hope North regrets that. Come on George, we love you in Wales, don’t turn into a twat.

      1. But … I would say that the reason he has not been given the grief that Ashton, Cips and Armitage would (and have) got for something similar is that at the moment he has no form for it. All of the others you mention are clearly egotistical tools with a strong track record of self regard. Armitage is also a villain. This is North’s first indiscretion – if he carries on doing it then I think the dislike will come.

  24. Until something is done to ensure that the referees act consistently, in particular at the breakdown and the scrum, the results of rugby games like this will have as much to do with the subjective and often erratic interpretation of the rules by the match officials as with which team plays better rugby. Bod was so perplexed that he was reluctant to challenge at the breakdown. Either it is legal to stay on your feet or it is not. Decide and then apply consistently. If something is not done, we will effectively have two different games, one in each hemisphere.

  25. Staggy,my point about Youngs is that although he is our stand out hooker,tactically for the benefit of the team it might be better to start Hibbard and Corbs,they hold the fort for 60mins,then Vunipola ,Youngs, SOB come on ,offer a huge impact and swing the game in our favour.

    1. To add to Billy and xxxwookie’s points, Youngs played a lot at centre before switching to hooker, so as well as being like another flanker taking the ball forward, he knows how to position himself in the back line if needed, and is a more effective carrier in that position than Hibbard. Youngs’s all round game is better than Hibbard’s, but I don’t think Gatland was aware of that until he got out there.

      1. Dazza, I suspect that Gatland wasn’t aware of Youngs game being better than Hibbard’s because the last time he saw them play against each other Youngs was very poor – mutiliated in the scrum, wobbly in the lineout and Hibbard was superb in the loose while Youngs was pretty anonymous. This is why most people had Hibs as fave to start the tests back at the start of the tour.

        I agree that on the tour Youngs has been better so deserves the starting spot, but it’s a reach to go from that small and only recently shown difference to assert that Youngs is somehow the all round amazing rugby player you are asserting he is.

        1. Brighty, as discussed on many occasions, one game does not necessarily dictate how good or bad a player is. How many Welshmen would have gone on the back of the Samoa result. Youngs beat out Hartley for the starting England hooker position, and although Hartley is a prat he isn’t a bad hooker. That says something. If you then look at the body of work throughout the 6N, as Gatland would have done, Youngs put in some very good performances. Therefore I disagree and think Gats would have been aware of his play.

          Having said that, I thought that Hibbard was going to start 6 weeks ago, but he hasn’t been firing on all cylinders and Youngs has thrived on tour, so the right player is starting, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise given that player rankings in positions do tend to go up or down on tour and most people had him pencilled as the number 2 number 2 at the start of the tour.

          1. Staggy, I would say the same back – one poor peformance from Hibbard on Sat, in ten mins, doesn’t dictate how good or bad a player he is.

            My point is that the assertion that Youngs is overall a better player is a wild leap given that a) when they played against each other one of them (and it wasn’t Youngs) looked the best in that one match b) Youngs has not outplayed Hibbard massively over time.

            I’m not sure what else to say – I think we generally agree (the right guy is starting the tests, it’s not easy to say 1 is better than the other overall) but we don’t seem to be able to agree that we agree.

            I would say though that “Youngs beat out Hartley for the starting England hooker position, and although Hartley is a prat he isn’t a bad hooker” holds no water with me – I’ve seen decades of nonsensical English selections, enough to never base my opinion on who their better players are on who they select; in my experience they are often two different things.

  26. @Sharpy on Youngs mate he is practically another flanker if you look at pictures of him before and at present it’s two different players he’s lost a tonne of weight and has become an even more mobile unit, i mean if you actually watch the work he gets through i.e tackles, breakdowns & carries and probably other things the naked eye can’t see on a tv you realise that to say Hibbard will “hold the fort” is a bit short sighted. He will more than likely make less tackles and especially less significant ones hit less lineouts and breakdowns while he’s a big body hitting a ruck his technically ability is not in the same league so really all your looking at is the scrum which is a big facet of the game but not big enough to include Hibbard so have to disagree.

  27. I also think Hibbard’s throwing is much poorer than Youngs who was 95% going into the game and didn’t miss any. Also, watching the scrums after Hibbard came on, he just crumbled in the middle of the props, arms up, not bound on anything. I know the referees tend to penalise a new front row coming on and the Aussies chanced their arm and bore in at every scrum so benefit of the doubt, but how useful is Tom Youngs in the middle of the field. Tackling like his life depended on it and carrying well, I just don’t see any good reason to choose Hibbard over Youngs.

  28. Sharpy. I understand your point. However I disagree. I think that you want your best player on the pitch at the start, not coming on as an impact sub. Youngs is a better and more prolific tackler, more willing ball carrier, part of a sound front row and a better lineout thrower. I would want him on for most of the game without a shadow of a doubt. As stated was really disappointed with Hibbard when he came on. It may have just been a bad game, but got really annoyed at he “attempted” tackling, and he was part of a front row that fell apart. Now I don’t know where the blame lies, but it must partly be to do with him.

  29. What a game! and what a let-off for the Lions. It should never have been so close, but the cliche is true, you can never write the Aussies off!

    For the Lions:

    Excellent – Corbs, Youngs, Jones, POC, North

    Good – AWJ, Warb, Croft, Heaslip, BOD, Halfpenny, Sexton

    OK – JD, Cuthbert

    Poor – Phillips

    For the subs, I thought Cole and Vunipola were the recipients of some interesting reffing. Hibbard has Courtney Lawes disease in the tackle (going for the big hit whether its on or not). Lydiate added nothing in particular and Parling was fine. Youngs added tempo

    The ref was diabolical and decided not to allow a contest at scrum or breakdown. How on earth he managed not to give the Aussies a yellow card just before half time is beyond me

    Youngs in for Phillips next week please and I’d consider bringing Tuilagi in for JD

  30. Having now had time to reflect on this first test there are the normal things to discuss, who was outstanding, and who may or not be needed for the second test. Was, is, Gatland wrong in substituting players at the time he did.
    What really needs debating is the way in which Chris Pollock referred the game. Yes we as Rugby fans what to see a fast and open game, but not at the cost of losing every aspect of the game that makes it unique. Pollock, and these ‘super 15’ ref’s need to referee every aspect of the game, with in the ‘laws’ of the game. The scrum is more than a means of restart the game from an infringement. It is a contest and needs to remain a contest otherwise, as Brighty has already stated, we will be watching RL with lineouts. Apart for the howlers Pollock made he did not once ping Genia for putting, placing (can’t make my mind up which term is right) under the second row’s hips at every Aussie scrum. Can we have a rate the ref page as well please.

  31. Reading through all the comments then the general consensus seems to be…

    Replace Phillips and JD with Youngs and Tuilagi respectively. BOD wasn’t sparkling but getting rid of JD will help with that.

    Don’t let Hibbard or Lydiate come on next time, swap Lydiate’s bench position for SOB or Tips.

    Anyone who thought they saw Croft have an ineffectual ruck/open-field game is wrong.

    Sam was poor/average, nothing to do with his 6 and 8 being off somewhere else.

    Phillips was the worst Lions player (and again, nothing to do with above).

    AWJ was ok, POC was immense.

    What’s wrong with Adam Jones that he can’t last at least 70 mins?

    Corbs was brilliant.

    Cuthbert only did one thing right (score the winning try).

    Sexton was ok but perhaps not “combative” enough – swap him for Farrel.

    1. I agree to an extent, but not fully.

      Phillips was poor, and I would like youngs to start.
      I don’t think JD had a bad game (put in some good kicks too) but Manu is better suited to Gatland’s style. Word is Roberts might be fit, so he may play 12 too.

      Saying not to let Hibbard come on isn’t right, after all Best is the next option… I would prefer SOB on the bench, but mainly because of the impact he brings.

      Croft seemed to have a more traditional 6 game, and yet people are now criticising him for not getting his hands on the ball enough… Seems like he can’t do right to some.

      I actually think Sam was alright. He secured ball at rucks. Lets keep in mind that defensively he was basically told by the ref not to bother competing. Sam made some very effective tackles, excellent workrate.

      AWJ was much better than just ok. His tackling was exceptional, and he was aggressive in the breakdown. Really justified his selection for me.

      I think the front row starters were huge, and the predetermined sub of the props at 51 mins was too early. I would like to see them maybe play 60 if things are going well.

      Corbs was brilliant.

      Cuthbert wasn’t outstanding (hard to be when North is on the other wing) but he was better than I expected. After all, did we see much of Ioani? I don’t think we did. Plus that finish was world class. I would probably still like to go for Bowe next week, but Cuthbert would have the bench spot for me.

      No way in hell would I drop sexton for Farrell. His passing was good, and he fond lots of space with chips behind, because he knew Genia was dropping so deep to field long aimless kicks from Phillips.

      1. I think Brighty is hinting at some kind of anti-Welsh agenda here.

        Not sure whether its worth answering his points, but here goes anyway

        Yes Phillips was shit, having Heaslip and Croft playing doesn’t excuse that. He was slow to breakdowns, his passing was laboured and his kicking abysmal – none of which has anything to do with the 7 and 8

        JD does not suit banging the ball up at 12, he is more subtle than that. He should be at 13. Given that I wouldn’t drop BOD for JD, I therefore think Tuilagi would be more suited to 12 and the way the lions were looking to play

        Lydiate is fine but offers nothing beyond defense if the game is in the balance. If he’s going to play, he should start and Croft or SOB should be on the bench.

        Hibbard is normally fine but missed a couple of obvious tackles by going for the big hit.

        I am amongst Croft’s detractors normally but thought he had a better game in the tight. Still don’t think he should be starting at 6 as he still left Warb. with a lot to do

        Warb. was good in what he did, not allowed to have an effect at the breakdown by the ref and did well covering Croft.

        AWJ was good but not as good as POC to my eyes – perhaps its just that POCs big red head is more visible

        Adam Jones can last 70 mins, it was clearly a planned substitution and one that didn’t work.

        Corbs was excellent, good in the scrum and round the field. The entire starting front row were excellent.

        Cuthbert took his try beautifully but I wish he was a bit more involved. Also still not great defensively – one particularly poor missed catch sticks out in my mind

        Sexton was great and I loved some of his clever chips. Would have perhaps liked to have seen him put the ball beind the aus wingers a bit more. The one time I remember him doing so, it led to a scrum just in front of the posts after North followed up brilliantly.

        Finally anyone who suggests Farrell should start over Sexton is an idiot.

        BTW – anyone watched the under 20 world cup final? Fantastic game

  32. Blimey, after reading all of that I had to remind myself we actually won.

    I do think we need Youngs for Philips and would prefer one of the more physical back rowers (Faletau or Lydiate) come in rather than asking both of the less physical guys to go up against one of the Wallaby areas of strength (especially if Smith is back in the mix next week).

    If Tuilagi goes really well tomorrow then he has to come into the mix, but lets see him play first.

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