84 thoughts on “Rate the match: Australia v Lions, second test

  1. Nail biting stuff!

    Not convinced that anyone was outstanding or awful.

    Better than average – Halfpenny (as always), North, Bowe, O’Driscoll, Sexton, Warburton.

    Average – B Youngs, Heaslip, Parling, AWJ, T Youngs, Jones and Vunipola (he evened out in the middle!)

    Slightly poorer – JD (pretty much anonymous) and Lydiate (tackled, but offered nothing more except one penalty against).

    As for subs. Welcome back to the scrum Dan Cole. Where has Connor Murray been hiding. Hibbard poor lineout throwing again, but at least his tackling was better. Croft look very fast when coming on as a sub. SOB continued his good work from the tour.

    Balance in the centres was poor again. Gats made a mistake not picking Tuilagi. Can’t see Phillips getting back into the squad thank goodness. Lineout needs Croft with Mowen playing so well. Lydiate didn’t really justify his place, although Warburton played better, which may have been a result of his inclusion.

    We have to get the set piece right for next week. Pleased for Vunipola that he came back strongly and very interesting comments from Wallace at half time. Sounds like MV isn’t as bad as we thought. Therefore probably no changes to the front row, but Croft needs to come in for our lineout. How bad is Warburton’s injury – thought he had a good game today.

    Therefore initial thoughts for next week are Croft for Lydiate and Tuilagi for JD, this being prior to assessing injuries.

  2. As anticipated, Lions were thoroughly blunt in attack. BOD providing good lines and distribution and JD not really taking them with any drive. Quite why a fit Manu was not even considered is very odd. I think that using Croft last week gave Lions a bit more go up the middle and having neither just meant nothing was going up there at all.

    Lydiate, as many were concerned about offered lots of tackling, but no attack. Carried all of 4m and missed a couple of tackles. I think lacking Croft in the lineout just forced a few more awkward throws that didn’t pan out perfectly. I might hope to see him back in the next game with Lydiate to come on and close the game out.

    JD not just generally a bit anonymous, but in a 3 on 3 tried to come in and tackle BOD’s man and left a gap for the try. Missed a third of his tackles, not great stats for a centre, didn’t carry, didn’t attack and overran a lot of moves. Needs to make way for Manu

    The scrum was a farce. The first penalty against mako for Australia diving straight to the floor was ridiculous and then the ref pinging Vunipola for everything for a while after that. Not once did his opposite man set straight in the scrum and that’s down to the referee allowing the front row to engage at an angle. Mako got the better of him later on and learned how to take him on in the scrum, but it was worrying for a while. Hopefully though Corbs is back next week. I think Dan Cole went on to prove that he can scrummage well when the Australians are forced into doing it legally.

    Conor Murray. Well, where’s he been? That was a brilliant performance off the bench

  3. I just wonder if that test win has given the series to the Australians. Sydney is a difficult place to win anyway and that coupled with the momentum the Aussies now have I can’t help thinking that this is going to be another 2001.

    For the third test, we need to Tuilagi back in the centres for JD, we need a powerful ball carrier there to power over the gain-line from set-piece and off of slow ball. This is something that we have not been able to achieve in the previous two tests. Furthermore, i think that Connor Murray has done enough to cement the test bench spot, Ben Youngs did a pretty good job of shackling Genia IMO. Parling and AWJ worked well enough in the second row, but POC was clearly missed though. IMO the back row looked solid although for the third test, assuming Warbs is fit, i would go with Croft Faletau and Warburton. Heaslip was poor today and Faletau has consistently been outstanding this tour, also by starting Faletau it fills in the workhorse role in the backrow allowing for a player like Croft to play wider out. It is harsh on Lydiate but i would have to pick SOB over him on the bench though.


  4. Really enjoyed the game, shame about the last kick.
    Dan Cole proved once and for all that everyone on this blog including me should keep our mouths shut :P very good in the scrum when he came on, don’t know if he spoke to Mako but made him look better too.
    Sam Warburton was very very good, nice to see him getting some turnovers again. We had very little penetration through the middle of the park but at the same time the actual number of times that we put a crash ball in was 2 if my memory serves me well so what manu would have done differently in that regards i dont really know, have to say though that at the end of the first half in the last 2 minutes when we got some go forward that is when we missed manu most beause its exactly those moments that he breaks the line

    1. Manu would have made more yards with the crash ball and attracted defenders. Unfortunately Davies did neither. He is not a crash ball 12, and to get the best out of BOD that is what we need. Someone to make yards and space and offload to BOD to fool the defence and then offload to North, Bowe or Halfpenny to score.

  5. my team for next week

    1. Corbs
    2. Youngs
    3. Jones
    4. AWJ
    5. Parling
    6. Croft
    7. Warburton
    8. Faletau
    9. B. Youngs
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Tuilagi
    13. O’ Driscoll
    14. Bowe
    15. Halfpenny
    16. Hibbard
    17. Vunipola
    18. Cole
    19. Gray
    20. O’Brien
    21. Murray
    22. Farrell
    23. Hogg

  6. I thought we had the Aussies on toast at the breakdown and provided plenty of ball. However we had no penetration in the backline at all which was an issue. Didn’t use North at all on the crash. Manu has to start next week.

    Set piece remains an issue, it’s where the Aussies got most of their penalties from, trouble is scrum is a total lottery as to who gets the call.. how do you prepare for that?

  7. Midfield really lacked penetration. Saying that the centres had a bad game is a little harsh. BOD got pinged quite a few times and had a couple of daft touches but he did make some excellent momentum sapping tackles. JD was a little anonymous, his interception and half-break aside. I think it is time to give Manu a shot. Vunipola was unlucky to get pinged in the scrum. Agree with Wallace that he didn’t do much wrong in that regard. POC was sorely missed in the 2nd row, around the park and at the lineout. Parling didn’t have his best game, but no doubt his lineout work would improve with Croft back in to take the tail throws. Hard to rate the outside backs as they got little opportunity to show off, but 1/2p’s positioning for kicks was good as usual.

    The jist of the XV (injuries withcoming) will be:

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Youngs
    3. Jones
    4. AWJ
    5. Parling
    6. Croft
    7. Warburton
    8. Faletau

    9. Youngs
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Tuilagi
    13. O’Driscoll
    14. Bowe
    15. Halfpenny

    Although could easily be Murray for Youngs, or Cuthbert for Bowe.

    The bench I’m less sure about. I think we could do with proper 2nd row cover on the bench so I would be tempted to go for something like the following:

    16. Hibbard
    17. Cole
    18. O’Brian
    19. Murray
    20. Cuthbert
    21. Lydiate
    22. Vunipola
    23. Evans

    1. Forgot to mention – hard to separate Heaslip and Faletau, but I just feel that Faletau deserves his chance.

  8. Gats summed it up.”game management”.At 60 mins Farrell should have come on and closed the game out by playing the percentages.Scott Quinell said the Lions can’t defend like that for the next 30 mins.Our defence was good but when it counted,in the final quarter our line speed slowed. Next week we need to beat them up,with Roberts/Tuilagi so that their tank is empty in the finial 20

  9. Next week I want to see
    1. Corbs
    2. Youngs
    3. Jones
    4. AWJ
    5. Parling
    6. SOB
    7. Warbs
    8. Faletau
    9. phillips
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Roberts/Tuilagi
    13. BOD
    14. Bowe
    15. 1/2 penny

  10. my team for next week 1. Corbisiero 2. Youngs 3. Jones 4. AWJ 5. Parling 6. Croft 7. Warburton 8. Heaslip 9. Murray 10. Sexton 11. North 12. Tuilagi 13. O’ Driscoll 14. Bowe 15. Halfpenny 16. Hibbard 17. Vunipola 18. Cole 19. Gray 20. O’Brien 21. B. Youngs 22. Farrell 23. Zebo

  11. Another game where neither side played that well. We must have far greater penetration next week. For me that means a number of things:

    a. Croft has to start vice Lydiate to give better tail lineout options & some go forward wider out.
    b. Faletau has to start with Croft playing to give better balance & grunt/carry around the fringes & to compensate what you lose by leaving Lydiate out.
    c. Tuilagi must start at 12 vice JD; this might just put BOD/North/Bowe through a gap. Not Roberts – played poorly when he did play & won’t be match fit anyway.

    Other changes are less connected with the penetration issue, but

    d. Corbisiero to come back as our best loosehead scrummager. Despite the fact that Vunipola was mainly not at fault today – the two he got pinged for during the first half were because Alexander was binding on his arm/elbow or not binding. The ref got that wrong. Later on he showed what he can do when he gets it right – lifting Alexander right out the scrum. I’d have Grant on the bench though just to avoid ref dramas late on, as i can’t imaging we’d put Vunipola on out of choice, because of the ref ‘lottery’ risk. Hibbard & Cole remain replacements.

    e. Have a proper 2nd row on the bench. I panicked today when it looked like AWJ might have got injured early on. Gray or Evans – toss a coin, neither will let anyone down.

    f. SOB on the bench (can cover all 3 posns).

    g. Start with Murray who played well today & have Youngs on the bench as a weapon if we need to chase the game. Leave Phillips out entirely.

    h. Don’t be afraid to put Farrell on to close out the game – might have been a good option today. Sexton has been only average.

    i. Zebo on the bench because he offers the most artistry in attack, esp if you’ve already got Tuilagi & North on.

    j. Finally, make the most of the French ref – likely to be the best we’ll get out of the 3 in terms of how we like to play.

    1. Couldnt agree more! Especially with starting murray. He Should be given a chance. Youngs was ok , but not great today. Now im a Munster supportter but Imo murray has the right mix for what the lions need probably the best passer on tour with enough strength and a rugby brain to try and keep Geni under control.

  12. Got a feeling Warbs will miss next week through injury.Next weeks team. Corbs,Youngs,Jones,Parling,AWJ,Croft,Faletau,Tuperic,Youngs,Sexton,North,Tuilagi,BOD,Zebo,H’penny—bench,Cole,Venipola,Hibbard,SOB,Evans,Murray,Farrell,Hogg—pick e out the stingers.

    1. It’d be a really interesting back row selection conundrum if Warbs is unfit. Tipuric would suddenly be an option; he made a great start on tour but fell away a bit in recent games. He certainly offers something different. If you did put him in it would lend even more weight to playing Faletau vice Heaslip i think, or keeping Lydiate in. However, my preference, if Warbs is out is to go SOB, Croft, Faletau, with Tipuric on the bench to give an alternate option.

  13. When is somebody going to come out and say it? BOD has to go! Seeing him send Mako to cover the open side while he rested on the edge of a two metre blind side last week ought to be a clue. He’s had it after twenty minutes. Too many penalties against him last week. kicked it away this week when it should have gone in to row Z. How can JD be expected to cover for him yet again. Spends all his time telling people what to do. We’ve got no chance if he ends up on the field next week. Even less if he is captain. Shouldn’t even have been in the squad, let alone the test line up.

    1. shouldn’t have been in the squad? seriously. O.k he hasn’t had his best test series but he was our second highest tackler last week, he was unfortunate to get penalised at the breakdown, and this week admittedly his misplaced pass put the pressure on us but seriously JD was a lot worse than BOD was yesterday, if you really think that him playing will automatically make us lose then your completely wrong.

    2. Couldn’t agree more, as an Irishman. O’Driscoll is past his sell-by date. Was disappointed to hear he was staying with Ireland for another year. There’s already enough ego in that team without the biggest ego of them all.

    3. Sorry not sure I just read that correctly. BOD out???? He was telling people what to do because he is the most experienced player in the whole squad, and knows what to do. “How can JD be expected to cover for him yet again” are you serious. JD did so little in this game to give BOD space to do anything, and Tuilagi should have been selected anyway. With better ball BOD can cause serious problems to any defence, but he needs someone on his inside to give him better ball, and JD did not do that. Penalties against him were given by a ref who views the breakdown very differently, and next week we have Poitte reffing, which should be a completely different view. If not him who would you play at 13?

  14. I think another interesting point is that we have tailed off in both games and Aus. have finished stronger. Are we to expect that in game 3 and If so why?Is it fitness,game management,or being resigned to your fate.If the ebb and flow emulate the last two weeks, I can’t see us getting over the line.Wanting something to change and making something change are two different animals. If you keep doing what your doing ,you will keep getting what you are getting.

  15. Wow what a nail biter!, felt sorry for Vunipola, he did collapse a few but Alexanders bind was on his arm, he’s a good player in the loose but we need to get Corbs back, I’d still have mako on the bench because if we’re trailing Grant isn’t going to offer anything that could help us get back in the game, Youngs looked slightly light weight in the scrum without Corbs outside him, but Hibbard has done nothing to warrant a start yet in my book, the lineout wasn’t great today but it wasn’t awful, for what youngs provides around the pitch i think I’d stick with him, its good to bring someone with Hibbards dynamism off the bench. Jones put in a real shift today, he did more than usual, he was good in the scrum and he actually showed a bit more in the loose, still need him on the pitch for longer though although when Dan Cole came on he proved a lot of us wrong with his performance, Parling was anonymous which was very disappointing for him, he offered no where near what POC would’ve done, I think maybe I’d start Gray next week, he has a bring engine and he’ll bring some youthful exuberance with him, it’s key Wyn-Jones is fit, true work horse, the backrow combo was very good today, if they’re all fit then I’d stick with it, Lydiate tackled everything that moved, Warburton was a real force at the breakdown, and Heaslip carried hard and worked well in the tackle area, if Warburton is injured I’d go for Lydiate, SOB, Faletau, I think that backrow has a great balance. Youngs was poor, I think Phillips will come back in, but maybe today’s performance warrants giving Murray a chance, however it is a huge risk to play a guy who is pretty inexperienced in a Lions test decider, I reckon Gats will play it safe, Sexton is playing so deep, it’s like he’s back with Ireland, I assume it must’ve been a game plan, but he is not playing anywhere near as flat as usual, yet to see all his attacking ability he shows week in week out for leinster, did play some good high balls though, North and Bowe didn’t get as much ball as needed, loved North steamrolling Folau, Bowe chased so hard all day and made some key tackles too, I’d stick with those 2 on the wing, not the finest performance from BOD, but him and JD have 0 connection, I think BOD still needs to play especially if Warbs is out, I’d play Tuilagi beside him, he’s our best crash ball centre and they played well early in the tour, Halfpenny kicked well, unlucky with the last, I’d like to see him join the attack a bit more though, good game, we should win but I have a bad feeling the Aussies are going to take it, Horwill hearing will be massive.

    1. Agree with most of that, except i’d put Grant on the bench – it’s a sorry state of affairs if we need a prop to come on to help us chase the game! I’d rather he just keeps the scrum up & not get pinged. Parling was a bit disappointing but i think the lack of Croft meant he had to do more in the lineout. I’d be happy with any of the 4 locks though. I thought Youngs did quite well – far snappier than Phillips last week. But i think we can trust Murray to start. I’d worry a SOB, Lydiate, Faletau back row might be a bit ponderous.

  16. “Lydiate tackled everything that moved”

    Except he didn’t, he missed two tackles. That aside, he offered no carrying forward. Got penalised pretty cheaply too. The thing is, as a lot of peope had said over the last week is that he doesn’t carry the ball or attack nearly as well as Croft and Croft does a more than adequate job in defence and a huge job in the lineout. The entire backrow carried all of 22m today with Heaslip making 12 of those, you just need so much more from a back row. Last week Croft carried 27m on his own and still put in 8 tackles without a miss.

    The unfortunate thing in 2nd row at the minute is that while Evans and Gray are good players, they’ve not shone on the tour with the exception of the Rebels game. Parling has been consistent and solid and to bring Gray or Evans into a test after looking less than impressive in their other tests over Parling has been, if nothing more, solid would be odd. Should certainly have one on the bench though. Tom Croft is second row cover in emergencies, but shouldn’t be a choice

    Not sure Ben Youngs was poor. He distributed a lot and had a lot of defence work to do. Shackled Genia well and kept him honest. He didn’t run much, but we know from last week how sharp the Aussies are around the breakdown. The problem comes in the centres as the ball isn’t really being distributed beyond them very often. Looked a bit like England at times with the centre balance way off and so you see a lot of ruck to ruck work and very little go forward or line breaks. Needs a crash ball specialist.

    1. Croft does a more adequate job in defence than Lydiate? really. At the end of the day I’m not bothered who starts but from where I stand O’Brien is comfortably the best 6 we have, he’s the only one who works out wide and in the fringes equally effectively.

      1. I said “more than adequate job in defence”, not more adequate than Lydiate. O’Brien and Croft are much more effective carriers than Lydiate and both offer some pretty effective defence. Croft would edge it for me because the lineout is a lot happier with him in it. I just don’t think Lydiate offers enough outside his many tackles. He doesn’t offer a lineout option, he doesn’t offer a go forward

        1. Sorry, that’s fair enough, I just think given the other two 6’s have both played and neither have really stamped down authority, O’Brien deserves his chance, he’s been great all tour, I don’t think it’s too much of a risk.

          1. I would play Croft and O’Brein together next week, with Faletau at 8. Back row combo needs changing again with no Warbs, so shake it up and change all 3.

  17. BOD to stay we have already lost POC and getting rid of BOD would just take away the last great leader the lions have IMO I would be uncomfortable seeing a lions game to decide a test series without a leader
    Ike BOD

  18. Heartbreaking. Been there before.

    Back row were outstanding, gave Youngs an armchair ride. Swapping Lyds for Croft would just kill us at the breakdown and scrum half again. Sam and Lyds are the deadly turnover duo. We don’t need Croft for the lineout – jeez, does every team need a lanky six just to win their own ball? No.

    Need more penetration in centre – so Tuilagi or Roberts. I still have memories of Tui’s poor sight and distribution but he has played well on tour – it’s not clear cut for me whether it is him or Roberts.

    I thought Youngs was poor – shape looked much better when Murray came on. I’d love to see what either he or Phillips could do as part of today’s backline from the start.

    Corbs in for Vuni to eliminate doubt in the scrum.

      1. Youngs played well,

        He had few attacking oppurtunities and Genia only came to life when he went off, if he can stop Genia playing that’s is good enough for us.

    1. Lions obviously need someone to take the lineout. It struggled a great deal yesterday and that extra option just makes life a lot easier. It allowed Australia to come in and put a lot of pressure on the lineout.

      Phillips’ problems at scrum half were nothing to do with the back row. It was entirely to do with his attempts to run into holes that didn’t exist. I’d struggle to see how Youngs was poor. He distributed well except one pass to Vunipola that was just a bit short. He didn’t attack down the fringes, but he then didn’t end up getting knocked backwards like Phillips did every time. He put in a lot of tackles and did a lot of defensive work.

  19. Well

    that was tense, but it has to be said that we didn’t deserve that one. We didn’t get anywhere near the line, anybody wondedring why Croft is in the team, take a look at our lineout, crap, felt for youngs loosing POC and Croft in the same week.

    Vuni did ok, he collapsed a couple but also won a penalty for us at a scrum which halpenny converted, it was parity at the scrum if anything, like last week, difference was the linout, we were playing a tight controlled game, nothing against that, but with no set piece dominance.

    Don’t panic:
    AUS are not that good, even though they seem mentaly very tough, the way they came back in the first and they went for the scrum at the end today was impressive, however they will probably be without their captain next week due to suspension.

    They could realise their back three, thank God.

    O’Conner is no 10.

    I think we have them physically upfront.

    Changes to LOOK at:
    Croft has to play
    just for the lineout if nothing else, that leaves us with an interesting situation, if Warbs can make it next week, I would put SOB at 7, With Faletau at 8, this is the power we need at the start, Tupuric on the bench to come on when the game opens up.

    Secondrow cover
    Gray or evans for more fuel is needed.

    We had Zero penitration today, BOD was terrible and Davis not even there, not entirely their fault. I don’t know Roberts situation, if he is not fit he can’t play. Tuillagi could come in at 12

    Bowe and North played ok but hey they never toutched the ball, I BOD is having a nighmare again next week Bowe could be brough in to 13 and cuthb ert on the wing. Hogg need to be looked at, our out of hand kicking wasn’t great and he can punt the ball a long way. If we need something to happen at the end of the game he can break the line, he needs to be on the bench. We had nothing on the bench to help the backline.

    my team

    1 Jones
    2 Youngs
    3 Corbs
    4 AWJ
    5 Parling
    6 Croft
    7 SOB
    8 Faletau
    9 Youngs
    10 Sexton
    11 Bowe
    12 Tuillagi
    13 BOD
    14 North
    15 halpenny


  20. Can’t say I agree with all the decisions that went against us in the first half at the scrum. However Australia deserved to win, they had far more ball and did far more with it.

    Bring Faletau and Tuilagi in for next week.

  21. Does Gatland not know you need a Scottish 1 to win a series? 71, 74, 89 and 97 all with a Scottish loose head! There is not much more fate can do. Three loose heads injured should have meant Grant finished the game. You have got to work with the flow, not against it! I can’t see them winning next week. Australia were pretty rusty yesterday and can only improve. The lions looked out of ideas and were happy to defend. Either that or they could not win the ball. So much for the lions having an amazing back row. They need the likes of Nathan Hines I reckon because they don’t have any one like Will Genia. He frightens his own players even more than the opposition! Brian Moore gave the MOTM to Michael Hooper and I couldn’t agree more. He looks like he has been hit round the head with a cricket bat one too many times and has the mongrel dog quality that the best 7s have.

  22. Interesting stats emerging. Top tackler Vunipola, in addition to all the carries and scrummaging. Next Parling, in addition to all the carries and the lineout. It begs the question as to what Lydiate was doing, because he didn’t carry, and he’s not a lineout man or specialist scrummager. We needed ball carriers yesterday and will do next week as we’ve shown we can’t defend indefinitely. I said before the game that he was lucky to be playing and am happy to say it again now after the game. He doesn’t deserve to play next week as he’s shown he is the weakest of our 6’s.

    Also spent the second week yelling at the telly to play in their half in the last twenty minutes. Easier said than done, but it’s just possible Gats shouls have brought Farrell on. Yes he’s not as good or as exciting as Sexton, but I think he’s probably the better game manager (admittedly out of a rather small pool of two FH’s!). Am not convinced by Sexton’s kicking.

    Just seen the aussie try again. JD got sucked in. Not good viewing for him.

    Will be disappointed if JD, Roberts, Lydiate or Phillips play next week. The first had a poor game yesterday and just hasn’t gelled properly with BOD and the other three haven’t justified their selection. Fear that Gatland will again go with what he knows rather than what he should do.

    Am however veering towards Faletau playing in test 3. Feel like Heaslip isn’t really doing the business, having initially been a supporter of his.

    1. I’d agree with bringing Farrell on to help close it out, I don’t know why Sexton is playing so deep, it’s gotta be a game plan but it looks like he’s back with Ireland

  23. completely agree staggy can’t see what lydaite is on the field for, doesn’t add anything and frankly I’m getting ticked off with this tackle count statistic, the tv has fallen in love with it. Not that to tackle sn’t important but to be frank I didn’t see many missed tackles from anyone yesterday. One reasan that people end up top of that statistic is that the opposition target them and nobody is going to run at the strongest tackler on the other team. But cred to vuni I tought he had an allright game.

    everybody is harping on at the scrum we have bigger problems.

    1 lineout
    we couldn’t catch the ball front middle or back, even at the end we ahd a chance to maul a penalty out of AUS adn halfpenny kicks the winner, they stole it.
    Croft has to play, just for that, Gray took 100% of his lineouts against the rebels, at least on the bench.

    2 Go forwward
    Forwards are not carrying anything forward, corbs was best carrier in the first test, with youngs, where the hell is the backrow, I know wales use phillips and Roberts, North sometimes, to get go forward, but 2 of them are not on the field.
    Tuillagi in at 12, SOB in at 7 and Faletau in at 8, breakdown is a lot easier to win if we are going forward.

    scrums are 50-50 these days anyway, still put corbs in fit.

    have to say it doesn’t look like Gat rates the Scotish players at all, shame they beat ireland in the 6N and it wasn’t as if Wales really destroyed them in that penalty fest. Still thinks Hogg deseves a go, why Grant didn’t get on yesterday is confusing.

  24. to be fair to Gat, man for man Scotland don’t win many picks… on paper at least. even though Scotland have beaten Australia twice in the last 2 matches, it more shows that Ireland and Wales are not as good as everybody thinks they are. I personally don’t think we can compete unless we start having a 2 month winter break..

    I don’t know why Gat put Grant in the squad if he was not going to play him, poor guy. Should have put Cole at loose and Stevens at tight head at 60m. Stevens was one of the best ball carriers last week. He actually gets the concept of taking the ball at pace!

  25. Very poor game on sat the aussies totaly dominated and what do we expect if we give them so much possesion. Give the aussie that much ball and they can beat any1 in the world. The only way this next test can be won is to dominate the aussies up front strangle them this will put them on the back foot and us on the front also will give us more possesion. If croft comes back in at 6 wich he needs to due to the lineout i think we can aford to bring ian evans in for parling give us a bit more grunt and power faletau them needs to come in at 8 essential if croft is at 6 essential. If warbs isnt fit we need to stick with a specialist 7 in tipiric otherwise hooper might hurt us in the brackdown. Leave sob on the bench and let him come on for croft if we are strugling to get over the gain line again. We realy lacked any sort of go forward ball on sat realy dissapionting tuilagi has to come in at 12 might be a bit of a risk defensivly but at the end of the day is more likly to make some thing happen than jd and bod even if he gets crap ball. The assuie 14 israel falau looks like he is goin to score everythime he gets the ball has to be player of the series so far. Team to beat the assuies

    1.Grant/corbs 2.youngs 3.jones 4.alyn win jones 5.evans .6 croft (purly for lineout otherwise o brien) 7. Tipric 8. Faletau 9. Murray 10. sexton (although was poor by his standards) 11. north 12. tuilagi 13. bod 14. bowe 15. halfpenny bring o brien, grey, hibbard,grant / corbs , zebo , farrel, cole , youngs on the bench

    1. I agree the only way to win is to dominate up front as England did in 2007.I think Gats should have brought Sheridan out to replace Jenkins-he terrifies them.Failing that he should have played Grant Hibberd.and Evans and not the 3 englishmen(I am English btw)Team selection has been the main problem.For Sydney put Roberts and Tualagi in the centre-we’ve got to get over the gain line.Bridge too far for BOD

      1. Problem with Roberts/Tuilagi is you end up with what England have been suffering recently. Two crash ball centres who don’t distribute well and the ball doesn’t go beyond them. Need more balance and a player like BOD to work the ball around better and support the fly half.

  26. Not sure why you’d drop Parling. Did a job at the lineout, but with too few options, Australia were allowed to add pressure and Lions were throwing some wild difficult stuff to try and avoid them. In spite of that, took 4 lineouts. Parling also put in the most tackles yesterday without missing (14). Vunipola put in 14 and missed 2. Evans has been unimpressive other than the Rebels game where pretty much everyone looked impressive. I don’t see a good reason to start him over Parling.

    I still wouldn’t be picking Grant over Vunipola either, if Corbs is back. It’s well acknowledged that of the 4 penalties conceded only one was an accurate penalty against him. Hopefully the new ref will be wise to it in the 3rd test. Still a very useful option off the bench and Grant, though I wanted him on tour, hasn’t looked stirling. Might be a better start option though if Corbs isn’t back.

    1. Agreed. No reason to drop Parling. One of our top tacklers, carried the ball and ran the lineout. Evans wouldn’t have done all of that and the reason Croft is so important is that the aussies have 3 lineout specialists with Mowen and that left AWJ and Parling outnumbered. Showed how important it was yesterday. Yes you do have slightly less ballast, but we were fine in the scrum (once the ref had stopped pinging MV needlessly) and I actually thought that we were much better round the fringes. Therefore no need of Evans or Lydiate. The area we really lacked in yesterday was ball carrying back rows and centres.

      Also not sure if I dreamed this, did Lydiate miss 4 tackles? Not to mention the fact that Adam Jones put in more pressures on the aussie kickers than he did! Bet that will get mentioned at Noosa!

      Not convinced by Grant. He wasn’t the 5th choice loosehead by accident.

      Don’t get me started on Hibbard. He can’t throw well enough and he’s been a liability tackling for a proportion of the tour.

      As for Roberts and Tuilagi in the centre, it wouldn’t work for the same reason as JD and BOD haven’t worked – lack of balance.

      So Simon, just because you’re English and championing other nationals does not make you right, in my opinion.

  27. I’m not one to defer to the opinion of a coach or player, rather I offer this up as a pointer that not everyone agrees with the idea that Lydiate was poor on Saturday. I myself thought he was fantastic – he put the Aussies on their backsides way behind the gain line and the large increase in turnover ball was in large part down to him. Anyway, McGeechan agrees and thinks he was the best forward on the pitch – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/britishandirishlionsrugby/10150649/Lions-2013-now-it-is-simple-Gatlands-side-must-attack-Australians-in-Sydney-showdown-says-Sir-Ian-McGeechan.html

    I reiterate what I said before, in my opinion the back row was excellent and enabled the halfbacks to operate much better. It’s obvious Mike did not have his best game but as others have said (Rob Jones and Matt Dawson to name two), with the backline he was playing with he would often get slow ball and then that was compounded by looking up and seeing the Aussies already running down the ten channel. Often he had little choice but to go for it as his six was off sodding around. Much better back row on Saturday – if Phillips isn’t fit then I want Murray to start as that physicality is essential.

    1. Lions made 7 more turnovers on Saturday than the week before (21 vs 14, a 50% gain). However, the backrow that acts in support of players crossing the gainline and controlling the opposition around the fringes conceded 15 turnovers (up on 3, a 500% increase). Couple this with the fact that Joubert was a lot more sensible in the competition at rucks than Pollock was, I only see a loss from the backrow work rather than a gain.

      I’m not saying that Lydiate is a bad player, honestly I’m not. He did his job well. But losing a lineout jumper, and restricting the Lions to half a ball carrying backrower (Heaslip) left them struggling in the lineout and struggling to gain ground. At least one of the flankers needs to be replaced to a ball carrier.

      1. I’m pretty sure knock ons, forwards passes, being driven into touch etc all count on the ESPN turnover stats. So it’s a bit of a combination of an error count and turnovers effected at the breakdown, so difficult to read too much into the number alone.

        But to ‘win’ possession back on 21 occaisions and do absolutely nothing with it is appalling, regardless of whether we are restarting from a scrum, a lineout or a broken field situation.

        Completely agree with the point about getting across the gainline. I hope Faletau and SOB start next week, a good case can be made for Croft, Lydiate or Tips having the other shirt, personally would go for Lydiate with Croft on the bench. That trio worked well against the Rebels. It’s a large volume of those 1-3m carries we need round the fringes to build momentum and get us running onto the ball. Croft will give us some go-forward but more often than not it comes from a bust out wide for 10-30m, valuable but no so easy to build momentum from because they occur less frequently. Croft’s big busts tend to happen later in games when defences are a bit more fatigued so think he’s an ideal impact player (and be instructed to get his hands on the ball and find space).

  28. The scrum or lineout ultimately wasn’t the fundamental issue – whilst neither were 100%, the Aussies lost their share of both too.

    The game plan was nonexistent. We also have no pentration (besides north) in the backs and no forwards carried the ball! Lydiate tackles well but ultimately everyone should tackle and others like Tom Youngs do it as well as him and as often. When did lydiate carry? Faletau must come in as Heaslip has been pretty poor in both tests. BOD/Davies hasn’t worked at all as a centre combination. BOD especially has played very very poorly in both tests and it is on reputation alone that people forgive him for his errors.

    Corbs, Youngs, Jones, AWJ, Parling/evans, Croft, O’Brien (if w injured), Faletau, youngs, sexton, north, tuilagi, davies, bowe, halfpenny

  29. My basic premise is we need to smash the aussies up front therefore pick the most robust pack that we can to give us go forward with 2 big centres to get over the gain line.We need to be more attack less defensive minded.We won’t win by defense alone

    1. One big centre and craft and guile of ODriscoll however agree with big unit sentiments.

  30. Lydiate. Divisive issue. Sir Ian McGeechan, who I generally rate, thought he had a good game and was involved with everything. I’d like a little more information please on which to base this assessment.

    No one has yet told me how he was involved in the game other than tackling, and he wasn’t our top tackler or the second, he missed tackles and didn’t carry, isn’t a lineout forward, etc, etc. Yes I’m sure that he got stuck into the middle of things like AWJ, but we need more out of our backrow.

    The lack of ball carriers on Saturday is universally accepted as one of the major problems that we had. The backrow need to help out in this department. Heaslip might have played himself out of the team, and I don’t see why Lydiate hasn’t either.

    Yes the work at the breakdown was better and Lydiate undoubtedly was a contributory factor here but what we lost by becoming better in this area was momentum and we never really looked like scoring. Lydiate was brought in to make Warburton better which he did, but the team looked worse. No Warburton this week and therefore no need for Lydiate, unless someone can explain what he did on the pitch.

    1. I’d have to agree with you to some degree. Whilst he did make it easier for Warburton to get involved at the breakdown, what else did he do. For me a combination of Croft nd O’Brien or O’Brien and Tipuric would be much more effective, and would give us more ball carriers. Heaslip and Faletau, I think either one would do just as good a job as the other.

      For me the biggest error was not playing Tuilagi. Nothing wrong with Davies or BOD, but together they really offer very little. No serious ball carrier in the midfield meant more kicking which Bowe chased very well, and put pressure on the catcher, but we got nothing from it. Tuilagi or Roberts have to start the last test to make holes in midfield and space out wide. BOD running off Tuilagi or Roberts is a much more dangerous prospect than anything Davies conjured up.

    2. I thought Lydiate brought the tackles behind the gainline, forced Aus to play wider (which unfortunately they are also really good at), forced them to kick more and, as said, improved our turnover rate. Stats don’t tell this story e.g. if I tackle 10 men running at me past the gainline I look great on stats, if I tackle 5 men behind the gainline by hunting them down and then that results in a turnover or 2 then I am bringing much more to the game. Missed tackles? Hand on heart I cannot remember a single time I screamed Lydiate at the tele as he let an Aussie player through on an easy rampage? So were they proper “missed” as in line breaking or did his hunting mean the ball was shifted and that counts as missed? Stats. Bah.

      Replacing Lydiate with Croft is not going to be a better option – we lose the tackles behind the gainline, we lose the turnover rate, we get go forward out wide but not at the fringes, Genia returns to prominance. Put Fale in there if you think that needs fixing. The main thing I think we need to fix is the go forward in midfield – unfortunately this means JD has to go, replaced by Tui or Roberts.

      I find it hard to believe we need Croft in the lineout given we’ve got England’s and Wales’ lineout specialists. When Croft was in the lineout we hardly used him. Losing fringe defence for the odd tail lineout chance is not a good trade for me. We simply need to get better at using the guys we’ve already got in the lineout.

      I think Youngs has to go – his box kicking was poor and often put Aus back on the front foot. He always kicked down Bowe’s side, giving North hardly any chances to go for it.

      1. See you point about Lydiate, but I still don’t think its enough. He offers nothing in the line out or ball carrying, I want a little more from a 6, at least to be excellent at two of the tree, not just one. Also, in regards to the line out, Croft doesn’t necessarily have to take loads of ball, but he an extra option which stretches the Aussie line out players thus making more space. When they only have two players to mark, we are making it easy for them.

        Don’t agree on Ben Youngs either, thought he had an ok game without being outstanding. His box kicks being on Bowes side I believe was under instruction as Bowe is an excellent chaser. Also, I don’t want three different 9s in three tests, so for me, he stays.

        1. So you want your 6 to be a good defender, lineout jumper and ball carrier?

          Which of them offers that? Croft is good in the lineout. He carries the ball well out wide but is not a “ball carrier” in the forwards sense.

          SOB – nothing in the lineout, good ball carrier, defence is ok.

          I get the impression Lydiate is getting grief simply because he isn’t Croft i.e. a runner/lineout-jumper? No, he’s not. He is an excellent 6 – defender, harrier, worrier, space maker (your point about Croft being a distraction in the lineout has a parallel with Lyds at the breakdown/scrum – he forces Aus to play out wide, Croft doesn’t.).
          He was man of the season in last years 6 nations doing those things. You can argue about whether he isn’t good enough but I don’t get the argument that what he offers as a 6 is not enough.

          If Youngs didn’t have an outstanding game then he should be dropped – I don’t buy the “3 diff nines” argument. There are only 3 tests. Play the outstanding players and right now Murray is looking our best option.

          Tipuric for me on Saturday but I suspect we will see SOB at 7 which possibly unbalances things in the backrow?

          1. Oh I’m not saying with have a 6 that has all three attributes, what I said was that I’d like my 6 to offer at least two of the three main attributes. I think Lydiate is an excellent player, but I don’t think he is offering enough at the moment. Also, in regards to driving the Aussies wide, that’s a bad thing surely? I’d much prefer the Aussies to play in the tight; we would beat them playing like that. Would you really rather play the Aussies at a wide game than play them through the middle?

          2. Sorry also on the 9s, it is important. There is nothing worse than constant chopping and changing, it unsettles things. I think Murray was better than Youngs on Saturday, but not by massive amounts, not enough to justify dropping him. It was only a few weeks back that Murray was very poor and being criticized. My point is, Youngs wasn’t poor, and therefore shouldn’t be dropped.

          3. Jacob – it is an interesting idea – give Aus the invitation to go narrow and see if they take it. It worked for them against us in the first test.

            I’d still go for Lydiate though – the turnover chanes are a massive factor. As this blog itself said on another page today – “The lineout didn’t function as well as it had in the first test, with the omission of Tom Croft clearly having an adverse effect on the unit, but the Englishman will be up against it to win back his place in the XV next week, with the back row trio of Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Jamie Heaslip impressing. The blindside flanker Lydiate was particularly impressive in defence, playing with his characteristic work rate, and both Warburton and Heaslip benefitted greatly by getting over the ball at the breakdown, and earning the Lions invaluable turnovers.”

            I hope the author of that isn’t Welsh as I know what my defence of Lyds sounds like – it’s good to hear similar thoughts from others.

          4. Interesting to see someone thinking the back row was impressive because I didn’t see it. I’m sure that came from someone with more insight than myself, but I thought only Warburton was impressive there. I thought Heaslip was farely anonymous, and if Warburton and POC were still around I’d bring in Faletau. Unfortunately, I think we need the leadership of Heaslip next week. I’m certainly looking forward to the selection announcement.

          5. The back row was not impressive as a unit. Warburton had an excellent game. Lydiate did what he does – tackle people behind the gainline (although he did give away one schoolboy-esque penalty in his attempts to do so). Was Heaslip playing? Shall have to re-watch it and see if I can spot him.

            Yes, we managed to get more turnovers, but I would argue that this was mainly due to the referee rather than the effect of Lydiate. Of course, turning the ball over doesn’t make a blind bit of difference if it is then just aimlessly kicked away.

            I’d also argue that Genia was quieter this weekend because his leg was heavily strapped.

            Also, far from stopping Aus going up the middle, in the build-up to their try, the ground was made by the aussie forwards doing exactly that and that was by no means the first time. Their forwards seemed to consistently make it over the gain-line, unlike ours (Vunipola, Youngs and SOB excepted)

            Youngs kicking to Bowe’s side was entirely the right thing to do, if you were going to kick it. For 2 reasons:

            1. Folau was on the other side

            2. Folau was on the other side

            I thought Lydiate was the right decision beforehand but he looked knackered 15 mins before the end. Would have been far better had Croft been able to come on for him rather than Warb.

          6. Pablito – I think Croft on the bench is a good option. He’s almost like a utility back now as can be considered tall enough for 2nd row, fast enough for backrow, etc.

            On the rest of your points I think we’ll differ. Would have loved to have seen North going up against Folau more. On that thread we need to bring North into the centres more. We did it a low with Bowe, Wales do it a lot with North, we didn’t do it much with North on Sat. Missed opportunity.

          7. Think this will reply to you Brighty

            Not convinced by North in the air- especialyl vs Folau – but yes would have loved to see him get the ball more and get a chance to actually run at Folau

            North coming into the centres works so well for Wales and did during an earlier tour game. I cannot understand why it was not done on Sat, especially off some of the turnover ball

    3. Defence was the only real positive. Lydiate, Warburton, Parling and Vunipola can take a lot of credit for that.

      A closely contested war of attrition isn’t really a Croft type of game, I don’t agree Croft for Lydiate alone would have improved the team.

      Yes Croft undoubtedly strengthens the lineout, Mowen had a free run at the back, but we didn’t deliver any high quality ball from last week with him in. The only one we lost this week was a horrible under throw from Hibbard.

      For next week I hope we go for one of the following combinations in the back 5.
      AWJ, Evans, Croft, SOB, Faletau
      AWJ, Parling, Lydiate, SOB, Faletau

      1. Matt, aren’t you worried that “AWJ, Parling, Lydiate, SOB, Faletau” is a bit 1D? What about SOB for Tips?

        And before I get slated for Welsh bias from someone … what I mean is that SOB is a great ball carrier but with Fale there as well what you’ve now got a is a great chopper and 2 great carriers – don’t we need a bit of 7 guile, with Warbs out Tips would be a great option in that backrow?

        Also, on some of the stats being mentioned, I looked at some here


        So yeah, Lyds was not top tackler but he was joint third according to these. I dislike stats but if others are going to use them… Croft was on for 10 mins I think? He has a tackle success rate of 75%, made 0 metres and gave away a penalty in that 10 mins. If stats are what you go on (and I don’t) then that does not make pretty reading to me. I think we’re better of dicussing what we think players can do and did/do (2 tackles are not the same thing – was one behind the gainline? Was one a try saver or was it just an innocent scrag, etc.?).

        1. For a man who doesn’t go on stats I’m not reading an awful lot of them – just want to understand what people are seeing. Looked up Croft in the first test. 7 tackles. 6 runs. 16 metres made. For a supposed ball carrier that’s a woeful amount of yards to make in 6 carries? Corbs made twice as much with the same num of runs. Basically my point is – stats schmats.

          1. Croft’s 16m in the first test were pretty much all made in one bust on the left wing from which he then through a forward pass.

            I remember one close carry where he made 2 or 3m.

            I do like Johnson’s “stats are like a bikini” quote. In regards to Lydiate, if you come up really hard to get someone behind the gainline you will miss the occaisional tackle, can still work OK as the attacking player has had to take some evasive action making him easier for the next man to nab.

          2. Matt, I completely agree about Lydiate’s tackling style almost inviting missed tackles due to it’s aggressively forward nature – but then I thought I’d be ridiculed for trying to say that the odd missed tackle is worth the risk for the gain you get with the ones that come off. You’ve put it better than I could. Completely agree.

          3. It’s also a characteristic of a Farrell style defence, provided the end result in the attacking player is on his back behind the gainline he doesn’t seem to be too bothered if it is the first or second man that gets him.

        2. Agree it’s a little bit of a Heyneke Meyer style selection.

          Logic is:
          – Both SOB & Faletau are useful at the breakdown and can exploit the turnover opportunities that Lydiate provides (e.g. it worked well agaisnt the Rebels).
          – We have to hold onto the ball, we have to carry round the fringes and earn the right to go wide.
          – I’m not 100% convinced Tipuric has the physicality, although I like his pace to go head to head with Hooper. If Tipuric plays I would move SOB to 6 to keep the ball carrying threat. Faletau still adds a lot in the aggressive tackling stakes over Heaslip.

          1. One thing I would say Matt is that I think Tips put the fears about his physicality to bed in that England game. I think people are concerned as he doesn’t look big but his wiry strength seems to be enough. He stood up well to the Eng backrow and they are not smaller than the Aussies … sorry, I mean Qantas Wallabies (c) TM PLC Ltd.

          2. The point on physicality may be proven about as correct as the old “Neil Back is too small” argument. I’m going with the unit that worked very well against the Rebels as my ideal choice though.

            Don’t think the Cardiff game is a great point of reference, Robshaw was hanging back to make some fairly plodding kick returns in the absence of an 8. Croft had a severe case of ruckaphobia. Leaving Wood as the only back row in the defensive line (and ending up making 20 plus tackles I think).

          3. “Croft had a severe case of ruckaphobia” – Matt, this is partly why I would not pick him for Saturday. Only partly as my pic isn’t negative i.e. I don’t want Croft. I just want Lydiate. The turnover difference between 1st an 2nd test was chalk and cheese. I want more of the same.

  31. Team for next week.

    1. Corbs
    2. T. Youngs
    3. Jones
    4. Parling
    5. AWJ
    6. Croft
    7. O’Brien
    8. Faletau
    9. B. Youngs
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Tuilgai
    13. BOD (C)
    14. Bowe
    15. Halfpenny

    16. Hibbard
    17. Vunipola
    18. Cole
    19. Gray
    20. Tipuric
    21. Murray
    22. Farrell
    23. Zebo or Hogg

    Tuilagi has to be given a chance next week. Still not sure I would risk Roberts if he’s only just getting fit. Tuilagi was fit for this test, and can’t understand why he wasn’t picked. After the first test it was clear that we weren’t getting much from the centre partnership, and if North hadn’t scored his wonder try, I’m sure we would have lost.
    With Warbs out I would play Croft and O’Brien, and I would swap Heaslip for Faletau. Heaslip didn’t have his best game, and Faletau deserves a shot.
    Zebo or Hogg on the bench, but I’m not sure which one. Nothing against Cuthbert, but I just feel either Zebo or Hogg are more likely to spark something off the bench. I think I would go with Zebo for his ability to cover wing and FB. Not sure I would want to play Hogg on the wing?? which is where we’re more likely to need cover.

  32. I still find it staggering that Australia struggled to hold onto the ball, we forced so many turnovers and yet still only had possession of the ball for 37% of the match. Did we go through 5 phases once? I’m not sure.

    2 very contrasting FH performances for the Lions this week, who would have thought it would be Farrell standing flat, attacking the gainline and demonstrating some creativity whilst Sexton was miles behind it and devoid of ideas.

    If we do lose next week, please let’s lose playing rugby. We aren’t going to win by playing non-rugby, we can’t close a game out for 80 mins!

    For next week I would go
    1) Corbs (thought Vuni was very unlucky on a couple of decision, was top carrier and joint top tackler, but will be very pleased to have a dominant scrummager back, if Corbs isn’t fit I’ll stick with Vunipola)
    2) Youngs
    3) Jones
    4) AWJ (C)
    5) Parling
    6) Lyidate (If Croft plays, then Evans in second row)
    7) SOB (If Tipuric plays then SOB at 6)
    8) Faletau
    9) Youngs (harsh on Murray but we have to go with a gameplan that is based on holding onto the ball and I think Youngs has the best service)
    10) Sexton
    11) North
    12) Roberts (If Roberts is fit then I would play him with the centre partner he’s most familiar with, if he’s not fit then I would go Tuilagi & BOD)
    13) JD
    14) Bowe (Actually thought we missed Cuthbert coming inside and making a dent, but will stick with the proven world class winger)
    15) 1/2p

    16) Hibabrd
    17) Vunipola
    18) Cole
    19) Gray
    20) Croft
    21) Philips (Again harsh on Murray, but I’m hoping for a big reaction to being dropped and he comes on angry)
    22) Farrell
    23) Tuilagi (Yes it leaves us a bit vulnerable in back 3 cover, however it’s a game we have to win, so to go into it without one of the most potent game breakers in world rugby can’t be the right call)

  33. The mind-set on Sat was far too defensive. How may time did they make it into the Aussie 22? This is the last chance, the team needs to be aggressive and attacking

    BTW – can anyone explain why on hibbard’s throw at the end, they didn’t just go to the first jumper and then maul it? the maul was working brilliantly in the first half but they just appeared to forget about it in the second half

    My team for Sat

    1. Corb – if fit – Vunipola if not
    2. Youngs – would have him practicing his throws for 10 hours a day
    3. Jones
    4. AWJ
    5. Parling
    6. SOB
    7. Tipuric
    8. Faletau
    9. Youngs
    10. Sexton – although he needs to buck his ideas up and stop playing so deep!
    11. North
    12. Tuilagi – See below
    13. BOD – See below
    14. Bowe – his defense and high ball skills are better than Cuthbert’s and he offers just as much in attack
    15. Halfpenny

    16. Hibbard – would have him practicing his throws for 10 hours a day
    17. Vunipola – or Grant if Vunipola playing
    18. Cole
    19. Gray
    20. Croft
    21. Murray – showed all the desire that Phillips lacked in the first game
    22) Farrell – should get some game-time if Sexton is as ineffectual again
    23) Zebo – cos he can add some magic and cover fb as well

    On the centres, Tuilagi has to come in and should have been involved for this one. Question is with who and where?

    At 12, he’s no better or worse a passer than Roberts and would be a constant threat. Would like to see North running into the holes he creates – or vice versa

    At 13, he’s more likely to be running against backs rather than forwards and can make breaks – the problem is that we don’t have a ball-playing 12 other than 12trees and Davies has been ineffectual at 12 so far.

    With the lack of a 12 and lots of 13s, I think I’d play Tuilagi at 12. I’d like to put Davies outside him as he seems to play better there, but am a little unsure of his defense. So think it would have to be Tuilagi at 12 and BOD at 13.

  34. “The turnover difference between 1st an 2nd test was chalk and cheese”

    Yes it was. Different referee and Lions made a 50% gain in turnovers. That was good. What about the 500% increase in Lions’ turnovers conceded? poor work at the breakdown on Lions’ ball doesn’t make up for the amount gained.

    It’s all very well saying that Lydiate comes up out of the line and tackles well, but I remember one of his missed tackles being a huge gap that gained the Aussies 20m, well into Lions’ territory. I also remember a very silly offside giving Australia points as he tried to come up out of the line. I also don’t like this “he tackles behind the gainline and pushes the Aussies back”. If he were doing that so effectively, the Australians would not have made 460m to Lions’ piffling 140.

    I’m not saying you have to put Croft in, but at least concede that 2 backrow battlers who don’t carry ball is not a good balance. SOB offers a lineout option, though not as good as Croft, is a good hardy carrier while tackling well and working hard at the breakdown. Is that not surely a better option than Lydiate who does one of those things and none of the others?

    Again, I’m not saying Lydiate is a bad player, just not the right option

  35. Brighty – Lydiate was the player of last years 6N. You’ve said that in his defence about 3 or 4 times. Yes and Ashton was scoring tries, so why didn’t he go on tour. Yes Lydiate was fantastic in ’12 before he was injured. Haven’t seen it this year. It’s a very tired defence of a player and one that you would pounce on if it was the other way around.

    As regards his tackling, I don’t think I once saw him smash a player back behind the gainline. I might have missed it but I don’t think any of his tackles were impact ones, so not convinced by that argument, although I might need to watch again to be sure.

    My point has been that Lydiate is one dimensional, and not especially impactful at the current time in that respect. He probably tackles more round the fringes than the other 6’s, but that’s all he does, and we lost the game because we couldn’t do anything with the ball that we had. Therefore that approach didn’t work so let’s move on to plan C.

    My favoured 6 was always SOB as I think that he has been the standout 6 of the tour, but Gats saw a need for help in the lineout in test 1 and I see a need for it in test 3. Very harsh on SOB. Whatever 6 we bring in means that we lose something in one of the areas that the others are stronger in. Makes me wish Gats had brought Wood, who once again can tackle (top tackler in 6N this year I think), get stuck in, carry and his lineout isn’t too shabby (a bit like Mowen!), but a little too late for that. We are all wise after the event.

    Lydiate did what he was paid to do but looking at the bigger picture we need something else to help the team.

    1. Staggy, you’re taking my comments out of context though and making it sound like I’m only referring to his past glories to justify his place. I’m not.

      1 – I mentioned it to counter the absurd idea that Robshaw is “a better player than Lydiate will ever be”

      2 – The other time I mentioned it was in the context of what a 6 needs to bring to the party i.e. Lyds has always been a tackling machine, not a lineout man/ball carrier, and this was enough to earn him 6 nations man of the season i.e. it has, on it’s own, been shown to be all the attributes you need in a 6 to have both a winning team and a fantastically lauded player.

      I don’t see why we need Croft in the lineout given we have England and Wales premier jumpers. Many, many teams do ok without a lanky 6, they just use the backrow players they have got. I remember Martyn Williams being told he lost out in previous Wales tours as he was not a lineout option – went away, few weeks practice, suddenly he is back in as a lineout option. With lifting, etc. the amount of extra inches Croft brings to it are not the difference. Warbs jumps/receives at the lineout so we did have at least 3 options last week – what we didn’t have was good calls/options and good throwing.

      I definitely saw him do the type of tackles you did not see – looking at my phone I can see txt messages being passed around between a few of us and Lyds tackles are mentioned often.

      At the end I don’t feel I need to defend Lyds – I want the best backrow we can have, not simply the one with my fave player in. The problem perhaps is that my view of the best one aligns too well with my nationality so it can’t be taken seriously as anything other than bias? :-). Anyway, that’s why I was heartened to see other, specifically non-Welsh, people lauding his performance. Not all, not by a long stretch, but then this choosing the best players thing is not scientific.

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