55 thoughts on “Rate the match: Queensland Reds v British and Irish Lions

    1. Agree Steve, he definitely had a much better game.

      The cross kicks at the start didn’t go so well, but the kicks themselves were executed well, the chase was not as good. Farrell noted that, and decided to change the type of play.

      Much better game all round from him. Threw himself into a few tackles too, which was nice.

      I wonder whether the news of wilko having had an op has lifted a weight off of farrell’s shoulders?

  1. I thought Ben Youngs had a poor game despite the lucky try. Too many knock ons. Also opinions on who’ll be called up for Tommy? Wade, Zebo, Visser?

    1. He had a couple knock-ons, which isn’t ideal. But his running was dangerous, he got the ball out of the rucks relatively quickly, and his box kicking was a useful release of pressure.

      I wouldn’t say he had his best game, but I don’t think to say he had a poor one would be fair either.

      1. Phillips will start the tests because he suits the power play gats wants. Youngs will be benching and brought on at 55-60 mins so he can use his pace against tired Aussie back rows

        1. I agree. I think firstly, Youngs is better suited to that impact role, using his pace.

          And as one of the commentators said (I think it was Barnes, and I hate agreeing with him) it doesn’t matter how well Youngs plays, Phillips suits the template that gatland will have for the test team. But Youngs does bring something different, which is why he is a better bench option than Murray.

          On an unrelated note, I really hope Bowe’s tour isn’t over, as he and North are clearly the better wingers on tour.

    2. I disagree, thought Youngs was superb, still will not replace phillips, but a good game.
      Also thought Farrell, North and Gray also were very good. Not sure about cuthbert and faletau

      1. I agree with all the names you have said, and the categories that you put them in. Would add the two flankers to the “not sure” column, as neither set the world alight.

  2. I wasn’t hugely impressed by the backrow. Faletau carried pretty well, but lost the ball a fair bit in the latter stages.

    Warburton grew into the game, but was pretty quiet throughout compared to the other two 7’s.

    Lydiate made a few good tackles, but he needs to bring more IMO.

    Parling was pretty quiet too, which isn’t great.

    Overall it was nice to see a fight from the reds, glad they put out a good team, and I am sure that this will have affected the performances of a few players. In general I was slightly underwhelmed by the lions. Will be interested to see the player ratings.

  3. I just can’t see how Warburton can play. Tipuric was better than him so was O’Brien, and Croft would easily have scored that try. I know that isn’t what being a back row forward is all about but they should be the supreme support players. I think O’Connell should be captain for the first test based on how people have played so far

    1. Totally agree with the comment about flankers being the support players.

      It was a tough ask of warburton to score that one, and croft is in the minority of backrower who could score it, but even so, I didn’t see as much support from the flankers as we did against the force.

      One huge positive of croft is his support play. As geech pointed out, when Manu broke through and BOD was there, croft was also there. In fact, I noticed that croft seemed to be on the shoulder of the centres (BOD in particular) pretty much every time they carried. If he doesn’t pick up an offload, then he is first to ruck.

  4. If Wade goes well today against Argentina maybe he’ll receive the call up? Never been that impressed by Zebo, Aston off form, Visser isn’t a bad option, or Brown/Foden if they’re looking for more experience/versatility

  5. After this match my team for the tests would be:
    1. Mako Vunipola
    2. Richard Hibbard
    3. Adam Jones
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Paul O’Connel (captain)
    6. Sean O’Brien
    7. Justin Tipuric
    8. Jamie Heaslip

    9. Mike Phillips
    10. Jonathan Sexton
    11. George North
    12. Manu Tuilagi
    13. Brian O’Driscol
    14. Alex Cuthbert
    15. Leigh Halfpenny

    1. I though Cuthbert looked slow today, yes he got run down in his try attempt in the first half, but also thought he looked tired and slow of thought throughout.

      1. Agree with Grundy here. Cuthbert looked pretty poor today. Slow speed of foot and mind. Combined with the fact that he seems to have a weak boot compared to other international wings.

        Having said that, maitland still has a fair bit to prove, and Bowen may be out.

    2. On form, I reckon your bang on. Maybe Roberts for Tuilagi, but Tuilagi to come on.

      Thought Farrell stepped up yesterday though, as did Ben Youngs. So we’ve got some depth in the key positions!

      North was brilliant yesterday!

  6. I thought Farrell was poor again personally. Lots of aimless kicks to opposition wingers and fullbacks, gives the opposition a run against a broken line. Against Australia they would have cost tries. ESPN stats show he was turned over 4 times and missed 3/12 tackles. I just don’t see a lot that he does well.

    Parling someone said was quiet – that’s how second rows usually are. Huge effort in the lineout taking 4/6 (0 lost) and stealing 4 of the Reds’ lineouts. That’s a good game. Didn’t see much ball in the loose though.

    Much better test of the abilities today. Scrum looked brilliant, lineout worked well (100% + 5 steals) and there was a real fight. Disappointed to lose Tuilagi so early, but North was good in the centre. They’ll be disappointed to have been down on the try score count and up on the penalty conceded count, but a more useful look at the players than the previous games.

    1. A fair chunk of Farrell’s kicks looked poor because the chasers (cuthbert in particular) didn’t seem to chase too hard.

      The tackle stats are not great, although I would be interested to know which ones were immediately followed up by another tackle. As Andy Farrell pointed out in the 6Ns, with a blitz defence individuals miss more tackles, but they miss because they have flown up at a player who steps, the next guy then smashes the static attacker, making a dominant hit.

      I thought Gray took more lineouts than that? Oh well.

      Comment regarding Parling being quiet was more about his work in the lose than the tight. The carries at the gain line are a big part of his game.

      Agree it was a shame to lose Manu early. One thing I noted about north though, is that he came on at centre, but after a couple mins was out on the wing, and Bowe was actually the one in the centre.

  7. First proper test so, much like people were saying its not fair to pick Phillips on the strength of easy runout against Baa Baas, it’s too early to say whether Warbs is having a poorer tour than O’Brien and Tips as this was a proper hard breakdown. And yes, Croft would have run in for that try, but he wouldn’t have been anywhere near as much into the breakdown as Lydiate and Warburton were.

    George North is back and on form. Electric. Bowe is a massive worry, Cuthbert was very poor in defence. Hogg was dissapointing given how much people said he was a genuine threat to halfpenny’s starting chances. Halfpenny now nailed on unless Kearney recovers.

    Youngs/Phillips looking the perfect pair of tourists, Gatland could start with either knowing he has a game changer to bring on.

    POC/Gray/Parling all looking like excellent second row choices.

    Overall a great win, a great test and hopefully just what they needed to forge some steel.

    1. Agree with your comment about cuthbert in defence, good shout there.

      Fair comments regarding the tougher challenge and the flankers, but I still have a niggling feeling that they should have performed better.

      Agree with you comments regarding North and Hogg. Halfpenny is nailed on for me, especially with his added goal kicking and special awareness in defence.

      Spot on regarding the 9’s. I am really excited by the balance they bring, should cause problems. If plan a doesn’t work, then b is sat on the bench.

      Don’t forget AWJ for the locks. I still think his aggression and hard yards in the tight are important for the lions. He is also pretty versatile, not only in the fact that he can cover 6, but more importantly, he can adequately fill the 4 and 5 roles (enforcer vs athletic lineout operator). I think POC if the only other one with that 2nd row versatility.

      I just hope the other teams put out decent sides, as that is the type of test the lions need. It makes the warm-up games a useful practice.

      1. I have noticed that AWJ as good a player as he is, lacks something at scrum time, I noticed that on this tour as well not just over time

    2. Lydiate and Warburton hardly did a good job at the breakdown, the reds backrow was completely dominant!! They completely dictated the pace of the game for most of it!! What were you watching?

      Just being able to tackle isn’t enough. That’s the expected minimum.

  8. I think Cuthbert looks good going forward but is defensively a bit weak. North and Bowe were nailed on starters.. Bowe injury might just open the door again for Cuthbert. As for the backrow, it wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t anything worse than workman like. We need to see the other options properly tested, Baa Bas and western force were just an absolute nonsense. Conditions didn’t help today and both sides coughed up a lot of ball. It was good to see the Lions tested with serious pace, which ultimately they coped with.

    1. The force actually had 2 wallabies in their backrow, to the reds’ 1, also the force 9 caused issues for the 8 moves. I would say that the one area the lions were relatively well tested in the force game WAS the backrow.

      Workman like is fine, but the test backrow need to be more than workman like

  9. Of course they will. But they’re trying to get lydiate fit and that was warbs first game in 7 weeks. I thought they did ok. I think it’s pointless to suggest the force had 2 wallabies to the reds 1. The reds offered far more as a whole. I’m open minded to the test backrow, all I’m suggesting is they’ve not all faced the same intensity yet..

    1. I don’t think it is pointless to mention the 2vs1 wallabies in the backs.

      Hodgson and Brown were two of the better players for the force, both being involved in the few good things that the force did.

      The reds backrow on the other hand, were quiet by their usual standards. Quirk and Schatz are usually more involved. Robinson was great, and outshone his backrow colleagues.

      Faletau had a poor game, by his standards, and the fact that he was the best of the 3 is saying something.

      For the first half hour the only times I saw/heard of lydiate or warburton was the 3 penalties that they gave away (2 for Sam, one for Dan). Regardless of the level of opposition, those two should have been doing a lot more, especially given the competition that they know they have for test spots.

      1. It was the other way around actually. 2 to lydiate 1 to warbs. The point is warbs and lyds have played hardly any rugby, and I thought they did ok when you look at the match as a whole. I’m not sure the score would’ve been vastly improved had the backrow that faced the force faced the reds today with everything taken into account.. Conditions etc.. we may have to agree to disagree..

        1. We can agree to disagree on the performances.

          I have just watched the penalties back though.

          For the two flankers they go as follows:
          7 red 9.mins – offside
          6 red 24 mins – offside
          7 red 25 mins – taking the scrumhalf
          6 red 30 mins – offside

          I will concede that Lydiate did give away 2 (although if I am knit picking his second was after the half hour mark) but Warburton definitely gave 2 away within the first 30mins.

          I feel that other than contributing 4 penalties, they didn’t do a whole lot in the first half. I agree they grew into it, but we can’t afford that in a test.

          Lets not forget, were it not for an injured Pocock and Smith, chances are that Gill would have started at 7, not Robinson. The damage could have been worse.

          Also, I don’t agree with your justification of “they have hardly played any rugby”. If they aren’t match ready, then they shouldn’t be on the tour. Also, players like croft, bowe, Gray and POC haven’t played much rugby this year, and yet they seem to have impressed so far.

          1. Poc benefited as a result of lydiates tackling or are you ignoring that? Also gatland named Warburton as the tour captain and lydiate as as a no 6. So your argument about them not touring is irrelevant as they are touring!

            If you like it or not gatland is likely to name them in his test team.

            Croft impressed against a terrible western force team. Although I concede you seem to think they were almost test level bar 1 missing Aussie.

          2. How did POC benefit from Lydiate’s tackling?

            I agree, the fact that they are touring makes the question of whether they should have toured irrelevant. AND with that, the fact that they are touring makes a lack of game time an irrelevant excuse.

            Clearly they are both deemed to be match fit/ready by the management. Therefore there is no excuse for a substandard performance.

            On current form there are better flankers on the tour. To name these two in the test team, based on that performance, would be stupid. Also, Gatland has said in the press that no one, not even warburton, is guaranteed a test spot. Everything is based on performances on tour.

            At no point did I say that the Force backrow was test standard, I simply said that they were one of the better areas of the force performance, and I stated the fact that they have two capped wallabies.

            Clearly you are a big fan or warburton and lydiate, but for a moment you should take off the tinted glasses and just see that (regardless of the strength of the opposition) that their performance was not where it needs to be to get the test shirts.

  10. I was really disappointed with the back row – Falatau was ok, but warburton and lydiaiate looked off the pace, though improved as game went on.

    Vunipola was immense again, especially given the amount of game time he has had in such a short period.

    I think we all have to remember that each lions team so far has been the first time together for a bunch of combos , and you can’t expect things to flow yet. The problem for Gatland is he has so little time to get his first XV on the pitch to get some real game time together, and I think the injury situation means that its likely we will only see his likely team play once together on the Saturday before the tests.

    The scheduling really puts the Lions on the back foot.

  11. Think with their first choice players and that game plan the Reds would have shaded that today. Will Deans take note and adopt the strategy of the guy that wants to replace him as head coach at the end of the year as a result? Seriously doubt it and the Wallaby performance will suffer for it.

    My opinion on how our guys went …

    Vunipola 8 – Great in the scrum (better than expected!), not the big busting runs but still got his hands on the ball a lot, won the collisions, turned ball over, tackled hard and swept up off the ground like a flanker. Looks like a test Lion.
    Youngs 7.5 – Another ‘impact player’ laying down a credible challenge for a start.
    Stevens 6 – Decent in the scrum, but not much else. Not challenging for anything more than the 20 min impact role.
    Gray 7.5 – More dominant in the collision than he was against the Baa Baas
    Parling 6.5 – Great line out steals, but not as prominent (or error free) around the park as usual. POC and Gray look to be leading the way for the starting shirts with a 3 way tussle for the bench slot at the moment.
    Lydiate 7 – Progress from the Baa Baas game, but some way short of his pulverising best.
    Warburton 6 – An OK game, but not the man you would want to send up against Hooper on that form. Hopefully he’ll pull out a big game next weekend, but I think Tipuric Vs Hooper is a much better match up, so the maybe Warburton/Tipuric combo is worth a look at.
    Faletau 6 – OK Mr Heaslip, you have the shirt. Unusually quiet.
    Youngs 7 – Not his finest, but a good game. Certainly not consigned to the bench just yet.
    Farrell 7.5 – Well played, some poor kicks out of hand initially where he and the team did not seem to be on the same wavelength. Other than than thought he had a really good game, showed the progression in his pace (One of the kick chases could legitimately be described as fast!) and some decent passing to go with the big hits. Really encouraging.
    Bowe 8 – Huge loss, with Cuthbert and Maitland looking short of being world class this leaves a real gap.
    Davies 6 – Less familiar position, unfamilar combinations, early disruption with the injury. Not his finest, but don’t think we learnt too much either.
    Tuilagi – Fingers crossed
    Cuthbert 6 – Just looking short of a metre of pace possibly contributing to some of his defensive issues as well as getting run down by his opposite number.
    Hogg 5.5 – Some OK sweeping work, but not the attacking threat I hoped to see or the ability to put people on the ground as reliably as 1/2p

    And North 9 – Never mind a Lions XV I think he could keep Savea out of a world XV with a performance like that.

  12. Great game, best of the tour so far. That should dispel any notions that the Wallabies will be a push over. The reds, with their full contingent of stars, could well have won.

    Really gutted for Bowe, he would definitely have been a starter for me. Hope Tuilagi recovers as I want to see him and BOD reunite!

    The good:

    That should quash the pathetic criticism against Farrell. 100% kicking cannot be ignored. His passing was good, he made some breaks, his tackling was immense. Excellent play.

    North was fantastic. Not much else to say. 100% a starter. Sooo destructive. MOM.

    B.Youngs for me showed why he is the best scrumhalf. Excellent delivery, annoying at the breakdowns, fantastic pace. No bad passing!!

    T.Youngs for once gave us good lineout ball. Parling deserves much credit for this as well, his cameo last week was the most impressive second row performance so far, and today again he was prominent stealing lineout ball. His lineout work is invaluable.

    Gray played pretty well too. Him, Parling and O’Connell starters for me. Disspointed AWJ and Evans so annonymous last week.

    Vunipola has to be player of the series so far. Incredible. I’m not sure Healy would have made it into the starting team given his performances so far.

    the bad:

    Lydiate in fairness in the last 10-15 mins made some good tackles, but for nearly all the game the entire backrow was annonymous. Every other backrower has played better than them so far. Warburton cannot start.

    Hogg wasn’t great, bar his positioning.

    Curthbert poor, definitely a midweek man.

    Stevens was OK, but nothing more.
    JDavis the same. OK, but all the other three centres have had better games.

  13. Mako has been great, must be feeling good about his chances considering the other looseheads are yet to play! grant was my test loosehead before the tour so i stick by that! t youngs impressed him and hibbard should be a close run thing, stevens did well to be fair to him, hes not gonna push for the test squad but he is doing his reputation no harm, gray is looking great in a lions shirt him and poc look like the test starter, as has been said parling did well in the lineout but was anonymous else where, dissapointed cuz he has been great in the loose for leicester. the backrow were ok, lydiate made a fair few tackles which resulted in turnovers a few times, warbs looked slightly rusty and imo JT should get the 7 shirt and id give the 6 to SOB, faletau carried alot but no as effectively and made too many handling errors, youngs was lively and tenacious but as barnes said he will be used as an impact sub, farrell was a lot better today, still lots for him to work on but he is definitely adding to his game under the lions, still a long way behind sexton though, north was world class and if anyone is nailed on its him, cuthbert was mediocre at best, and i fear tommy bowe is a massive loss, atleast healy and jenkins are being replaced by 2 great looseheads, but cuthbert looked like he had reached the end of a long season and had nothing left which is strange as hes played so little recently, hogg was nothing special i don’t think halfpenny will lose the shirt now and im not sure about the condition of kearney. all in all it was a good performance

  14. @Simo.. for some reason I can’t reply direct to your post? Like I said in an earlier post I’m quite open to an alternative back row although I do feel the first two games are not worth comparison which is what a lot of people seem to be using as a yard stick for the test team. I’d say today was the first proper test so let’s see what the others do from here on in..

    Pocs penalty cane from a lydiate tackle, check the tape, it was the pen that took us to 22-12.

    I’m not a lydiate/Warburton fanatic but a lot of people are comparing their performance today against the first two games where frankly I’d have looked good! Which I don’t think is totally fair. Today was the toughest game by far and as I’ve said numerous times I thought the lions did ok.

    Let’s see how they go from here on in.

    1. Ok, I get the POC bit now, I didn’t know you were referring to a specific pen, as I don’t recall it coming up.

      With regards to Lydiate and Warburton. The form that they are capable of producing was not evident. Lets not forget that this is a squad of internationals vs a club team. Warburton and Lydiate should be used to performing at a higher level.

      Other than the England game, warburton’s form has been below his usual standard recently. And Lydiate is definitely not playing like the man who won 2012 6Ns players of the year. Tipuric and SOB had pretty good 6Ns, and both seem to have continued in that manner.

      Regardless of the opposition, Warburton and Lydiate should have excelled today. They may not have excelled to the extent that the others did in the previous matches, but they still should have looked good. The fact is, warburton was the 2nd best 7 on the field today. I wouldn’t hesitate too much to say similar for Lydiate, except for the fact that Quirk didnt have his best game.

      The lions captain and a recent 6N player of the year should be 2 of the best players on the field, regardless of who the opposition is.

  15. I’d also say that your presumption that the the management consider Warburton and lydiate totally fit is wrong as well. How could lydiate be deemed fit after two games for the dragons?? I’ll be honest and say he wouldn’t have toured if I’d have picked the team but he is obviously a gatland favorite.. all I’m saying is today’s criticism is perhaps a little harsh, given the step up in opposition and the conditions. I’m keeping an open mind and won’t condemn anyone just yet..

  16. I thought Warburton was pretty good considering his lack of match time and the quality of the opposition, finally! Lots of good work in the contact area and good support work. But he needs to work harder to gain that test spot. Vunipola was fantastic, but Big George,MOM,pace,power soft hands, intelligent lines,
    a class above anyone on the pitch.

  17. @Anarky. Fair enough to keep an open mind. I actually quite like Warburton and Lydiate, they seem like good blokes, and both have proven themselves to be good players too.

    I do hope they prove me wrong.

    The problem I have is that, like you, I don’t think that unfit players should have toured.

    I also think that these two in particular should be having very big games, to justify their selection. Warburton as captain, and Lydiate as a tourist.

    Currently the Captain wouldn’t make most peoples’ test XV. And Lydiate’s inclusion meant that people like Wood, Robshaw, Brown, O’Mahony and Ryan Jones missed out.

    We don’t know if they would have been very good, but as Mako has shown, some people step up to this level superbly. And right now, Lydiate is failing to justify his selection over a potential other option, IMO. And Warburton is not justifying his selection as captain.

    1. I Agree to a point. This was warbs first game (which they won). So to suggest he’s not justifying his selection as captain, again, I think maybe a little harsh (not looking to get into a BBC comments page type argument here! :D).

      Totally agree regarding vunipola and he’s put in a he’ll of a shift over three games, was glad to see him come through ok!

      I also agree that any of those mentioned would’ve toured in my team before lydiate given the time he was out of the game.

      Warbs would’ve made my team, but for what it’s worth poc would’ve been my captain.

  18. @Anarky.

    Fair point regarding the win. After all, wins are all that really matters.

    Agree that I would have had warbs, but POC as my skipper too.

    It seems we have talked each other round to some level of agreement, best call it a night there so that we do avoid a BBC style discussion! ;)

  19. Alot of competition for places for the Lions which is great. People shouldn’t be too hard on Lydiate and Warburton as they are both not 100% match fit and they were up against a team who threw everything at them. It is difficult to evaluate our back row options when comparing yesterdays match against the other 2 tour fiasco game against the “Farce” and the Baa. baa’s.
    Tough job for Gatland in selecting the team, and I dont see him selecting someone like Lydiate because he is his “favourite”. Guys will be picked on merit.

    Gatland has said that he is going to try and put the majority of his test team out against the Waratahs on saturday. That would make you think that he would rest his test starters for the game against Country on Tuesday, however he has named guys like North, Tipuric, Gray and O Brien etc to start.

    Im confused now!

    If I was picking the test team I would do the following:

    1 Mako Vunipola
    2 Rory Best
    3 Adam Jones
    4 Richie Gray
    5 P O C (capt)
    6 Sean O Brien
    7 Justin Tipuric
    8 Jamie Heaslip
    9 Mike Phillips
    10 Jonny Sexton
    11 George North
    12 Jamie Roberts
    13 Manu Tualagi
    14 Leigh Halfpenny
    15 Rob Kearney

    16 Alex Corbisiero
    17 Richard Hibbard
    18 Dan Cole
    19 Geoff Parling
    20 Tom Croft
    21 Ben Youngs
    22 Owen Farrell
    23 Sean Maitland

    1. If they are not match fit, then they wouldn’t be touring. They were deemed to be fit to play.

      Guys like Croft, POC and Gray have had plenty of time off too, and yet they have impressed. Also, other than missing the first two tour games, Warburton has been fine, he picked his knock up in lions training.

      Any of the lions backrowers should be out shining their opposite numbers, as they are all 2nd choice behind any missing wallabies. If they are not outplaying the 2nd choicers, then how can they hope to better the wallabies?

      With regards to your comment about not picking favourites and basing it on merit. Gatland picked Lydiate to tour on being a favourite. Also, what is the point in taking Lydiate if you don’t think he is going to vie for a test spot? It would have been better to take Brown, Wood or Robshaw, who could be a midweek captain.

      With regards to your team, Rory Best at hooker? Is that a joke? He had a poor 6Ns and his performance for the lions was to a similar standard. Hibbard and Youngs have been much better (both consistently and on tour).

      1. Simo,

        Im not sure that you understand the difference between a player being fit and one being battle hardened and match fit.

        Let me explain how it works.
        A player who has been involved in 5 or 6 top level intense competitive games in the last few weeks is one who I would consider to be match fit.

        Neither Warburton or Lydiate fit into this category as both of their club seasons come to an anti-climatic end rather than a seasons end where they were fighting for silverware, so therefore I would say that they are both not yet fit for test level intensity. Therefore they really needed that workout yesterday.

        The examples that you used in POC and Tom Croft, well both of those guys were involve in big contests at the end of their seasons with their clubs so of course they are more battle ready for test like matches.
        Lydiate is vying for a test spot. Why wouldn’t he be??
        Im just making the point that Gatland wont pick him because he is or isn’t a favourite of his. He wants to pick the strongest team possible to beat the Wallabies.

        Lydiate and Bowe were picked on this tour more for what they have done in the past than what they were doing when the squad was first selected. He took a bit of a punt on them because they are both class and unique players.
        You could see Tommy Bowe was blowing and gasping for oxygen yesterday as he is getting back to full MATCH fitness and has not experienced a game as fast as that in a while.

        Even still if Bowe was not injured he is a definite test starter on the wing. So sometimes a gamble is worth it and the Lydiate gamble could bear fruit before the tour is over.

        With regard to Rory Best – no it is not a joke, I happen to believe that he is the best hooker available.
        He did not have a poor six nations at all.
        The Irish line out (and team) wobbled against Scotland and of course that is all the fault of the guy throwing in.
        When you study it the problem was down to some poor lineout calling as well as a couple of bad throws.

        Any hooker/ line out forward combination will need a bit of time to gel and Rory’s lineout throwing is usually very accurate. He is very used to and good at hitting POC in the middle of the line out. Let POC call it and Best throw it and the Lions lineout have a great combination.
        His play around the field in loose play is the main reason that I would pick him as he is another loose forward at the breakdown and that is where this test series will be won and lost.
        He also excels at scrummaging and is a great leader and was consistently the best hooker in the Pro 12 this year.
        So Best to start and Hibbard as impact off the bench.

        1. Oran,
          having been out of the game for 2 years due to a knee injury, i can tell you that i do in fact know the difference between aerobic fitness and being “battle hardened”. the problem that i have is that these two players HAVE played since the end of the 6Ns, and both put in better performances than they did yesterday. i would understand if they hadnt shown that they are up to the “battle”, but they both have, therefore yesterday can be chalked in the “poor performance” category.

          Fair point about POC and Croft being in higher class games. What is the excuse for Gray though? he hadnt played since the 3rd round of the 6Ns, and yet he is bringing the goods.

          also, Gatland said how important these “big games” (such as Euro knock-outs and domestic finals) were, and yet the welsh dominated the squad, even though they had the joint lowest representation with Scotland (Scarlets and Glasgow were both losing semifinalists in the Rabo).

          Bowe was blowing because he hadnt experienced a game of that pace? feel free to check, but i think you will find that Bowe started the pro12 Final for Ulster. he was blowing because he was replenishing his oxygen debt after making breaks through the line. George North is “Match fit” and yet you see him “blow” after making a 50+ meter break.
          (here is a link to see that Bowe played the Rabo – and isnt listed as being subbed – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/22600466)

          agree that the Lydiate gamble COULD pay off. but it is yet to do so.

          in the 6Ns Best did not have the impact in the open that he usually does. His throwing has been not straight, and too high on multiple occasions. I will concede that sometimes the lift or movement is the problem, as someone who has spent a fair amount of time as a jumper and lifter. having said this, a hooker is the key. if a lineout misfires consistently, that tends to be down to the hooker. you may have noticed in the Force game that the lineout improved when Best came on.
          Hibbard offers a great carrying option, defensively he is a destructive tackler. His throwing has been excellent and he is also renowned as an excellent scrummager. its all well and good picking players because of what they bring in the losse or other areas of the game, but if they fail to deliver in their primary roles (throwing and scrumming for a hooker) then you need to look at others.

          if you want to pick forwards for their work at the breakdown, then Cole should be the 1st choice 3. and while we are at it, why not just pop one of the 7s at 2?!?!? (sarcasm)

          “Lydiate and Bowe were picked on this tour more for what they have done in the past than what they were doing when the squad was first selected” – this highlights the fact that Lydiate is off the pace. He and Bowe were in a pretty similar situation when the squad was selected. Bowe has gone on to produce the goods, Lydiate has not.
          I am sure you will now try and use Bowe playing in the final against me, but to pre-empt you on that, once again, i bring up the matter of Richie Gray. he last played in the 3rd round of the 6Ns, the Baa Baas was his first game back. He had been much better than Lydiate, who had a couple of games since the 6Ns – therefore he is more “match fit” than Gray.
          Warburton, on the other hand, only picked the injury up during a lions camp in ireland. this means that the only games he has missed were the Baa Baas and Force (roughly 2 weeks off), so i think that “match fitness” is hardly an excuse here…

          1. Simo – love you enthusiasm, but your arguments are ill thought through and confused. Please be more concise and make a point as opposed to a rant.

          2. @bas brown, please provide the examples of where my arguement is “ill thought through” i will try to clear the matters up for you.

            i did write my post while watching england U20s play against SA, so had split attention.

            the point i was trying to make is that, to date, i have been uninspired by the performances of Lydiate and Warburton.

            other players who have also been out of the game have had excellent games (Gray and Bowe in particular) and yet people try to justofy poor performances for others. it grates on me, especially considering some of the quality that was left at home.

    2. Rory Best at hooker, are you serious? He was woeful in his first game, and is way behind Hibbard and Youngs. Also you have selected Halfpenny on the wing and Kearney at full back? Maybe you hadn’t noticed but Kearney is injured and hasn’t played a game yet, so why would you pick him at full back when Halfpenny is on form and there are better wingers to choose from?

      1. Dazza,
        maybe you hadn’t noticed but my comments on Rory Best are above if you would bother to read them.

        Regarding Rob Kearney, obviously this is based on him coming through a full match on saturday. If he does then Kearney, Halfpenny and North are the best back 3 players available and should be picked. Plus Maitland and Cuthbert have not showed anything special.
        Once Zebo comes into the mix then it could get interesting!

  20. Baz Brown – I couldn’t agree more.

    Simo: if you think I come on here to think of things “to use against you” then you are massively mistaken. I come on here to share and exchange views on rugby and Im happy to have a debate but you dont seem willing to accept that a viewpoint that is different to yours is valid.

    1. Oran, i love a good debate. as you may see from other posts, i often concede to people and we end up either agreeing or just accepting a difference of opinion (brighty and i often trade views).

      with regards to the comment about using something against me. i just thought i would try and save us both time. if i was in your position i would have picked up on the “bowe played in the Rabo final” comment as a reason why he played better than Warbs or Lyds. i just felt that slipping in the Gray situation would save us both a bit of time.

      i love discussing rugby, its why i bother reading this blog. i just like to get the reasoning behind someone’s opinion on certain matters. if they can provide a convincing argument, then i will accept it. if i see a whole or two in the argument, then i will question them.

      i am not arguing, just very inquisitive. as i pointed out in my previous post, i had 2 years of no playing the game, so spectating became my only involvement – i have become pretty passionate (probably too passionate based on my other half’s comments!) about rugby.

      i am more than happy to agree to disagree if you want. but if you want to continue discussions, i am a willing participant.

  21. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Zebo get the test 14 shirt. Maitland on the bench as utility cover. Cuthbert looks off the pace and Zebo is a naturally more talented rugby player (imo). Would like to see Croft and Warbs get a game together, as I think they would play well together. O’Brien and Tipuric would be a good pair as well.

  22. Well, you’ll get to see o’Brien and Tipuric in the next game

    I agree with Simo. Warburton and Lydiate were not great, with Warburton being outplayed by the Reds second-choice open-side and Lydiate offering nothing beyond a couple of good tackles.

    I do hope Warburton can improve as there is no way the Lions captain should be out-played by a second-string club player. My concern is that we will see the same problems with him that Wales had – eg. the captaincy affecting his form

    Lydiate was a gamble from Gatland, and as I’ve maintained from the start, not a good one. His form is nowhere near what it was. His lack of high-quality game time shows.

    My biggest worry is that Gatland is set on a Lydiate/Warburton combination for the tests and will choose them regardless of form – much like he chose Lydiate for the tour.

    If they play like they did on Sat vs the Aussies, we will struggle to compete.

    Hopefully I’m wrong and Gatland will pick on form (which currently would be Tipuric, O’Brien and Heaslip at 8) but I have this nagging feeling that his back-row for the tests has been written in indelible ink

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