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Last chance looms for wannabe Test Lions

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Bryn Palmer | 18:20 UK time, Monday, 22 June 2009

Cape Town, Monday afternoon

The mantra stays the same, even if the odds have shortened even further in the Springboks' favour.

Ian McGeechan conceded today that coaching-wise, South Africa have a distinct advantage this week in not having to concern themselves with a Tuesday match in between the critical first and second Tests.

But despite anticipating a full-on fixture with the feel of a 'fourth Test' against the Emerging Springboks at Newlands, the Lions head coach has not let Saturday's events disturb his perennially sunny disposition.

Grey skies and intermittent drizzle have descended on Cape Town since the tourists' return, but the outlook according to 'Geech' remains bright.

Tim Payne arrived at the Lions training camp straight from the airport

"This is as good as a squad atmosphere as I have experienced on a Lions tour, and this time - the last two weeks - is when you see the real benefits of that," he said on Monday. "I am sure the reaction [to the first Test defeat] is partly because of that dynamic. It has been hugely positive and all that groundwork comes into play now."

As the man who steered the 'Midweek Massive' to an unbeaten record in New Zealand four years ago amid the carnage of the Test team's efforts, he is well placed to judge the difference in mood and momentum.

The first Test may have been a "massive" missed opportunity as McGeechan acknowledged, with technical flaws exposed in the scrum, line-out, maul and finishing areas, but the series is not lost yet.

So McGeechan regards Tuesday as an opportunity to extend his selection options for Saturday's second Test in Pretoria, rather than an unwanted inconvenience.

The absence of Adam Jones and Matthew Rees from Tuesday's 22 confirms they will almost certainly be starting in the front row at Loftus Versfeld.

With the coaches hoping Andrew Sheridan will be fit to resume training on Thursday after the back trouble which ruled him out of first Test contention, the big Englishman could also come into the shake-up, perhaps as a replacement.

Phil Vickery's presence on the bench is less to do with any personal rehabilitation after his distress in Durban, but more to the Lions' lack of remaining options.

With Sheridan still unfit and Euan Murray invalided out of the tour, Tim Payne's arrival at training in jeans and T-shirt, having come straight off the plane with no time to collect any kit, illustrated how short-term preparation for this game has been.

The other replacement prop John Hayes may have been in camp since Saturday but has not played for more than six weeks, so their combination with hooker Ross Ford can hardly be expected to be operating at perfect pitch.

Simon Shaw's absence from the starting XV could be interpreted as a sign that his 6ft 8in,19st 6lb frame is being preserved for Saturday if the Lions opt for greater grunt to counteract Bakkies Botha in the second-row battle.

Then again, a big performances from Nathan Hines, back in his best position of lock, could also bring the naturalised Aussie into contention.

Shane Williams in Lions training

Likewise in the back row, strong outings from open-side Martyn Williams and number eight Andy Powell could yet force a change of thinking.

In the backs, some sharp service from Harry Ellis might just test the theory that Mike Phillips is untouchable at scrum-half, while it is reasonable to assume James Hook will get at least 20 minutes off the bench to prove he remains a Test contender.

Likewise if either Shane Williams or Luke Fitzgerald show signs of try-scoring form, the number 11 jersey seems far from secure around Ugo Monye's shoulders.

For some of these 2009 Lions, Tuesday will be the last time they pull on the famous red jersey. But the urge to prove they merit more time in it should be motivation enough.

(PS If you want more up-to-the-minute chat on life with the Lions in SA, you can follow my Twitter feed from now on...)


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  • Comment number 1.

    I hope Hook gets game time to make his place in the test 22, he may well be needed.

  • Comment number 2.

    Having seen the match ups for Tomorrow I can't wait for the open side clash. Potgieter for me was the best open side for any of the SA sides in the super 14 and was unlucky not to start last weekend. Williams will really have his hands full.

  • Comment number 3.

    Are Shaw and Hines a distinct possibility for test selection? We cannot ignore that POC may not be the best natural fit with a (possibly) all welsh front row. The tight five balance is a big ? mark at this juncture Opinions?

  • Comment number 4.

    I think we will see an all Welsh front row in the second test, but I'm hoping for a good performance from Hines so that he will be in the frame. However, if Simon Shaw does play, he will certainly add some ooomph to proceedings. As for POC, he didn't have a fantastic game last week, but as captain you would have to think he will retain his place. But Geech has made big decisions before, so I'm sure that if he feels that if POC doesn't warrant his place he will make that decision.

    Elsewhere, I'm sure a good display from Martin Williams will give him the leap into the test side. Unfortunately for Ellis, I think he is playing just to try and cement his place on the bench, surely Phillips will play on Saturday? Hopefully Hook will be given a chance to stake his claim, as I hope Shane Williams will. He hasn't been in good form so far, but form is temporary and class is permanent. He is one of the best finishers around and we simply need to take all of our chances if we are to stand any chance of turning it around.

    Come on Lions!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Bryn - no mention that ROG could be playing for the 10 shirt. Jones did nothing to warrant 'untouchable' status last Saturday and his missed kicks prevented the Lions from keeping in touch during the first half. Especially on the highveld, the kicking game will be crucial - the ball flies a long way and the Lions will want to play in the Boks half - a decent kicking strategy is required.

  • Comment number 6.


    I believe your right that Jones hasn't made himself 'untouchable'. However it seems that more concentration has been set on getting the forward problems sorted, as it was in that area that the test was really lost. I know Jones missed a couple of penalties (very close they were though) but it wasn't that that lost us the game - the penalties conceded from the set piece was the reason.
    It appears that they are going for more grunt (an absolute must) and that generally they are happy with composition of the backline. Reasonable in my opinion considering the backs gave the BOKS much trouble, and on another day it might well have been six/seven tries scored instead of 3 - although much credit due to the BOKS defense for keeping the try count down.
    ROG may well miss out - although he doesn't deserve it - to HOOK for a bench spot, as HOOK covers more positions and is the superior place kicker to either JONES or ROG. I would not be surprised to see either S. Williams or Fitz make a bench place. Martyn Williams will start but probably won't play all the game so he can be preserved for Saturday, Powell likewise (to either start or bench on Saturday). It is power and grunt that is the name of the game as they got the tactics wrong for the 1st test.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well, the Lions could get some help from the bok management - they gave a massive boost to the lions with the 2nd half subs of big name players lik Du Preez, Smit, de Villiers, Pienaar and the impressive Brussow. The Lions definately picked up their game, and there better fitness helped, but the Bok midfield was left without a tackler, the creative half backs were gone and the scrum was weakened. I hope that the Bok management learnt from that as I expect the Lions to be stronger from the first game and not so nervous in the opening minute (must of contributed to the early bok try in the first game).

    Anyway - heres hoping for a good game of rugby on Saturday.

  • Comment number 8.

    I must say I'm disappointed that O'Gara seems to be written off for Saturday. In my opinion Jones bottled the big things big time on Saturday. The second penalty he missed is a gimme at International level and I'm afraid the last kick to touch from the SA 10 metre line that only managed to make the 22m cost the Lions the game - had that been put out 5-10m away from the line I could have seen us scoring.

    Hook will be a good bench player, but when you have a centre partnership of Roberts and O'Driscoll, you don't need a flash fly-half, just someone that can put the ball in their hands will do fine.

    As for the possible wing spot, surely Shane Williams has to be at the back of the queue as things stand. He's been awful all tour, and if Byrne is fit, I would possibly put Kearney in on the wing as he played well enough when he came on at the weekend.

    I think the all-Welsh front-row is secured now, and the scrum was secure enough when that happened on Saturday, so Shaw potentially coming in will add the extra power, and Croft can be used as the second line-out jumper.

    I'm confident that the altitude won't hurt us too much on Saturday as we are clearly so much fitter than SA and they will tire even quicker. The only worry is Steyn's massive boot which could hurt us more than it did last week.

    Come on The Lions!!!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Would love to see Hook on the bench - would give Geech genuine options if he needs to change things round. Harsh on ROG, but if Hook was fit in the first test I am sure he would have been on the bench.

    Would expect Shaw or Hines to come in at 2nd row and the obvious changes in the front row. If Sheridan is passed fit, he will go on the bench. If not it will be Vickery as Hayes and Payne won't have had enough game time.

    We have to sort out our kicking game to make sure the Boks are under pressure. No aimless punts downfield as Steyn will punish us for it. Keep it in the hands, targeted up and unders and big hits....

    Come on the lions.

  • Comment number 10.

    Agree that 10 is also a position where a change would be welcome but not sure ROG is the man - he is just as hot and cold as Jones.
    Shaw or Hines could be worth a start but if not I would put Hines on the bench, as he gives more options than DOC.
    It could also make more sense to start Williams with Wallace to come off the bench for an impact. The last thing I would want to see is that one-trick pony Powell anywhere near the 22.
    Finally at wing, someone else needs a look in there. Williams would need a stormer tonight to justify selection, otherwise its Fitzgerald. Kearney is not a winger and hasn't played on the wing since April.
    All Welsh front row is a certainty but its a real pity Murray went home.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think that a big game from ROG will get him a test spot. I hope he tries to keep the ball in hand today there will be no point kicking ball away in the second test we cant dominate line-out and if we miss touch the BOKS will attack all day ROG will have good players outside him so lets keep ball in hand. As for Hook i think he is good cover to be on the bench but lets not get carried away with his kicking he has let nerves get to him for the Ospreys and Wales and the first thing that goes is his goal kicking. Today though i think the biggest games are needed in the pack again the pack lacked bite on the weekend hopefully someone will put their hand up for a test spot today with a really good aggresive performance we will see.

  • Comment number 12.

    Glad someone mentioned ROG in the comments; a big performance for him should force McGeechan to start him. His kicking for the corners against the massive boot of Steyn should be interesting as far better defensive full backs like Byrne and Kearney have been tested severely. Considering Pienaar only passed from hand 3 times all game, ROG wouldn't have been the tackle carpet that some expected.

    Also think that our lineout (with POC in it) has the potential to disrupt Botha and Matfield; Croft's first try came from a POC lineout steal! And still people are / were calling for him to be dropped!

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree Richmof that Kearney isn't a winger, but I feel that strongly about Shane Williams being so out of form that I'd play Kearney instead of him. It's also true a good game from Fitzgerald would put him ahead of Williams anyway, but also don't rule Earls a place on the bench. We've heard from the start of this tour about how quick he is and a gainst a tired Boks team could be a handful in a close match towards the end.

    I still think ROG deserves a go, he's kicked brilliantly for goal all tour but does need a good game tonight to back up claims he deserves his place. I agree he can be as hot or cold as Jones, but Jones really disappointed me on Saturday when it came to the big plays.

    I don't claim to know the ins and outs of the scrum, but Vickery was clearly targeted, although it did look like The Beast wasn't driving in exactly straight, and Vickerys second row AWJ wasn't exactly helping his man out.

    I can't believe Andy Powell's name has evven been mentioned in the same sentence as the Test side, if they targeted Vickery on Saturday then you can bet your life they will target him in contact - it doesn't matter how big he is when he carries the ball under one arm!!!

    I can fully believe the stat of Pienaar only passing it 3 times all game - I remember thinking when they took Jacobs off, that I couldn't remember him touching the ball in attack at all and thats probably right. He certainly won't be relishing another afternoon alongside De Villiers against Roberts and O'Driscoll, who I can't wait to see in partnership again, they were just awesome. Roberts frees his arms in every tackle and BO'D was always on his shoulder.

    I hope we aren't building the Lions up too much as SA did take a lot of their players off, and they will come out probably even stronger as they have another point to prove.

  • Comment number 14.

    On last weeks blog i almost got my prediction spot on. I said that the Lions would lose 26-20 and that it would be a close match. Well, it wouldn't have been such a close match had Smit,Pienaar, du Prees & Brussouw played the full 80min. 2nd half substitutions weakened the team, the same mistakes won't be made in the next match. Expect a full Springbok onslaught! My prediction for Saturday, Boks 47-13 Lions.

  • Comment number 15.

    ROG for Jones
    M.Williams for Wallace
    S.Williams or Fitzgerald for Monye
    Anyone for Vickery.

    We'll stil get beaten however it will be more competitive particularly if we are kicking what few penalties we get

  • Comment number 16.

    I think some people are being too harsh on Stephen Jones. Yes, he missed two kicks which was really disappointing and he had a poor first half. However, he did well in the second half and controlled the game a lot more, more than O'Gara would have. It really was a game of two halves, first half would probably been better to have O'Gara, second half Jones.

    However, I think O'Gara is playing tonight to have some game time and will play on Saturday.

    And please don't put Rees in the team. Although Mears had a poor game, you can bet that Rees will be even worse. He just can't throw a ball straight.

  • Comment number 17.

    And please don't put Rees in the team. Although Mears had a poor game, you can bet that Rees will be even worse. He just can't throw a ball straight.
    I definitely agree with this Saturday was a bad game for mears but i still think he has done well on tour and been the best hooker. He should have another chance maybe a better pack performance all round will help him out a bit.

  • Comment number 18.

    o gara has to start, jones had his shot and failed. understand that jones is a better defender but surely o gara's tactical and place kicking is better. we cannot afford to miss soft penalties. quick ball has to be the order of the next test. i like philips but he is that bit too slow. need to get quick ball to our dangermen roberts/o driscoll and bowe. our midfield caused havoc when doing so!!!
    hope that williams and fitzgerald have good games today cos i think its obvious that one of these two will come straight in for the ordinary monye.
    anyone know who the ref is foe the second test? cant be as bad as last saturday, it was like playin 16 men!
    my test 15 for 2nd test
    15 kearney(byrne not fit, would play rob anyway)
    14 Bowe(needs to get the ball)
    13 GOD(sorry i mean BOD, should be captain)
    12 roberts (class)
    11 williams/ fitzgerald (depends who plays better today)
    10 o gara (sorry steve you just dont cut the mustard)
    9 philips (hurry up please)
    8 heaslip
    7 wallace/williams(depends on williams performance today)
    6 croft( solid first test)
    5 o callaghan(feel combinations are essential,with POC for 10 years)
    4 POC (captain)
    3 Jones(combination with other two)
    2 Rees (as above)
    1 Jenkins (as above)

    come on the lions!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    The ref for the second Test is Christophe Berdos (France)- which is all okay as hopefully the Northern Hemisphere interpretation of the scrum is aired. Unfortunately the 3rd test will be reffed by Stuart Dickinson Australia) who didn't half enjoy getting his flag involved last Saturday.

  • Comment number 20.


    15) Lee Byrne (amazing hopefully fit)
    14) Tommy Bowe
    13) Brian O'Driscoll aka B.O.D (captain)
    12) Jamie Roberts (star of the tournment)
    11) Shane Williams (lacked form but deserves a chance to prove himself)
    10) Stephen Jones (R.O.G hasnt been at his best)
    9) Mike Phillips (brilliant game last week)
    8) Jamie Heaslip
    7) Martyn Williams (the one and only number 7)
    6) Tom Croft
    5) Alun-Wyn Jones
    4) Paul O'Connell
    3) Adam Jones
    2) Matthew Rees/ Lee Mears
    1) Gethin Jenkins

    James Hook for the bench


  • Comment number 21.

    At 09:06am on 23 Jun 2009, gib230881 wrote:

    "I must say I'm disappointed that O'Gara seems to be written off for Saturday... Hook will be a good bench player, but when you have a centre partnership of Roberts and O'Driscoll, you don't need a flash fly-half, just someone that can put the ball in their hands will do fine"

    Exactly and that person is any fly half in the UK or Ire EXCEPT Ronan O'Goode who will kick possession 9 times out of 10. If I see one more cross field kick...

  • Comment number 22.

    And no mention of O'Gara as captain? Guarantee if it was an English or Welshe player it'd be headlines!

  • Comment number 23.

    Shane Williams has probably had the most game time and chances to earn his Test place. The management clearly wanted him to take that chance by giving him the number of opportunities they did. 12 months ago he would have been one of the first names on the teamsheet, but now wouldn't even make the bench based on current form.

    I hope he does have a stormer tonight, as there's no doubting he can produce individual moments of brilliance, and could do from the bench, but that could be what's cost him, as he is too much of an individual, and when you have a backs line like the Lions have, there's no room for individuals, only team players.

  • Comment number 24.

    Mears has had a very good tour and deserves a second chance. I hope M Williams has a good game tonight.

  • Comment number 25.

    I share peoples dissapointment at Monye. But he was the better player out of the three wingers in lead up to the first Test. Some excellent defence for the first try, and in fairness he should have done better for the next try.

    But those that say Williams and Fitzgerald deserve a chance - they have not yet done anything to warrant a test place. Their chance comes today. If neither do anything of any note, then why should Monye be dropped? He didn't lose the game for us in the first Test, the game was lost on the back some dodgy pre match selection, and some dodgy in game management (Vickery should have come off long before he did).

    The fact of the matter is, despite banging on about fronting up to the Boks for the last year. And selecting a squad that was all about physicallity (hence the original reason given fo the non selection of Croft)by their own admission they picked a more mobile pack for the first test.

    It was all a bit of a confused state to be in, and one that cost us very dearly.

    Monye will come in for some stick for not taking a 50/50 chance, but before he is dropped, I would want to know that those who are coming in are likely to do better. Nothing on the tour so far suggests they will, so they MUST take their opportunity today.

    If not then we will just have to go into the next test knowing its not a strong back 3 combination.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think people seem to be overreacting a bit too much and I don't see the need for vast changes to the team that got beaten on saturday. The one significant area that was poor was our set-piece. I think it is clear that Adama Jones will replace Vickery, and it's going to be a tight-call for who starts at hooker. Mears certainly deserved his chance to start the last test, his throwing up until that point had been spot on and he had put himself about in the loose. However during test time his throwing wasn't pin-point enough, and with Vickery folding in the scrum, Mears wasn't a sizeable enough presence in the scrum to try and steady things. After all, Du Plessis is another great scrummager and I think Mears got done over a bit too.
    In open play I don't think we were bullied at the breakdown at all, maybe cause Schalk wasn't on the field, but we held our own and the backs had plenty of quick ball to play with, hence our several line-breaks. That's why I don't see a huge need to grunt up our pack. The whole reason Geech went for this more light-weight, quicker pack was to produce some quicker rugby, and bar scrum-time (where we certainly were outdone both by our own ineptitude and by the ref), the pack held their own. I agree the rolling-maul that led to the Boks' try was embarrassing but that was down to bad organisation as much as anything, and when a pack has momentum like the Boks had, it is extremely hard to stop.
    Some people also say that the fact the lions did so well towards the end of the match is because the Boks took off their big players. Even so, a Lions team that had been playing a hugely physical game for 60 mins still managed to wipe the floor with however many fresh reserves came into the Boks team, so I don't think we can solely attribute the good Lions' play to the fact that the Boks rung the changes.
    The backline should stay the same, barring a cracking game from either Fitz or Williams today. The pack should stay the same apart from a couple of changes in the frontrow. Take out the needless penalties from the first test and the Lions were more than a match for the Boks, and I'm looking forward to more of the same this coming saturday.

  • Comment number 27.

    great to see people putting down their national shirts and getting into the lions ethos (referring to the 2 welsh guys arguing for mears over rees), I agree hopefully a more stable pack will give us better ball all round to release our clearly superior backline. be interesting to see what effect burger has, as while he's clearly going to up the physicality brussow slowed down a tremendous amount of our possesion. monye was unfortunate to be on the receiving end of some terrific last ditch defence, but a guy his size really should be able to down the ball from that range. fitzgerald has looked sharpest out of the other wings so far, but agree with someones earlier comment about shane that form is temporary and class permanent, although it'll take a massive game tonight to force his way in.
    been a hugely entertaining tour so far, lets hope it continues in the same manner!

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree Leeboy3000 that O Gara, or as you put it O'Goode lol has kicked a lot this tour, but I think he plays the situation on the day better, and if he's told not to kick as much then he wont, but generally his tactical kicking for corners is pretty good anyway. I totally agree about the cross-kicks though, they seem to be reverting to Rugby League, when all you need is good, quick hands to get the ball there more accurately.

  • Comment number 29.

    'The referee was rewarding the dominant scrum as we had asked him to do," said Rowntree. "They won that engagement, they were going forward and their movement was upwards'. So said the scrum coach. Graham, driving upwards is illegal. The engagement the the first test was clearly poorly refereed. If what the Boks were doing was legal then why did Rowntree what suggest to Gethin to give them a bit of the same.Patently the Lions scrum had not been prepared correctly for that first scrum. A schoolboy error.

  • Comment number 30.

    How can the outhalf position even be up for debate...
    We are told selection is made on current form hence the only choice is ROG...
    Check the results between munster and Ospreys/scarlets for the '08 - '09 season..ROG on top every time....
    Hook got demolished in Thomond Park twice and once at home..
    Jones got scattered three times if you include the Ireland grand slam victory where he choked again...we wont mention last saturday's effort !
    Unbelivebable really ...but then again the coach has made bigger mistakes !

  • Comment number 31.

    Cant believe what everyone is saying about SJ, he only missed 2 difficult pens. He is our most consistant #10 and has found his welsh place under threat many times for this reason alone. His is not the best and appart from his place kicking isnt a game winner but he will give you consistancy. When wales have tried to up their game in the past by experimenting with other outside halvess , things havent usually worked out. Only then can you apprieciate the value of consistancy when the so called better player is having an off day.
    Dont understand why the lions pick a test captain before they depart. Surley a squad captain would be better. Must be gutting for the other locks to know that they are only playing for 1 place. On the subject of POC, he may be ok in the LO, but every time he has the ball in hand it seems as if every thing stops, it looks like he is not sure what to do with it. He hasnt played badley enough to be dropped, but if he wasnt captain i dont think he would have made the test team.
    RE: the kicking game, THe 2 main kickers, SJ and LB are both welsh and the welsh tactic over the last couple of seasons has been to keep the ball in play, either kicking deep toward the touch line or the up and under forcing the oposition to either kick or run back. I was in the pub on saturday and both LB and SJ were being slated by the non welsh for missing touch all the time. Under pressure you tend to revert to your normal game.
    Apart from the front row, no changes need to be made, don't let Rees near the team, jusy look at wales' LO performance for evidence. Also, shane williams should be sent home. Over the years he's cost wales more in turnovers than hes scored. Mike philips is the best SH, but i would have thought that they would have gone with someone quicker at getting the ball away from the breakdown considering all the problems theyve been having and how well our backs have been perforing, horses for courses. Dont think Kearney would be good choice on the wing like some are suggesting. After seeing Byrne for the fist 40 mins, then Kearney for the next, it was amazing the difference in pace. Moyne did nothing wrong, great defence kept him out.

  • Comment number 32.

    I think today's game will be good i think most players will feel if they perform out of their skin today they have a chance at a test spot or at least a spot on the bench. It would be good to see a real outsider nail a test spot for the weekend.
    I think apart from props/scum half/centres/full back there's a chance to steal a spot with a really good game.

  • Comment number 33.

    John Hayes hasn't got a mention anywhere on this page and coming out late I didn't really expect him to have any chance for the Tests but he might sort out some issues for the lions if given a chance.

    His sheer size means there is no chance of "the beast" shoving him around the place. His scrummaging was never his best quality in years gone by (due to the fact that he's a 6'3 prop) but he has ironed that out

    Secondly, John Hayes is a human forklift, probably the worlds best lineout lifter which could solve the line-out problems

    Lastly the fact the he is over 22 stone, makes him immense when it comes to stopping rolling mauls.

    I hadn't always been a big fan (I always felt he lacked the aggression to make him a terror was lacking and his workrate seemed low) but in the last two years he has worked incredibly hard and his tackle rate is extremely high

  • Comment number 34.

    Weather reports are that it won't be good, so running rugby seems to be a non-starter. I can see this being extremely difficult for The Lions tonight and it wouldn't suprise me if we lose the game.

  • Comment number 35.

    I too am a shirt-laying-down Welshman, and am disppointed that many people seem to want to install the whole Irish team for selection... you know who you are... ;-)
    Still, silliness aside, I do believe Mears should stay as he as had a good tournament so far and his throwing (in teh absence of an unfortunate Irish infury at hooker) is now the most accurate. He's a little battler!
    The saffers who suggest that they played worse after Smit et al left the pitch are talking rubbish. They boasted about immense strength in depth before this series and seem now to be saying the opposite: that only when Smit (et al) are on the pitch can the Boks win. Sadly for them the illusion has been shattered. It's unfortunate that the Lions and the ref gave the Boks far too much respect in teh first half and I would suggest that the second half was the truer reflect of both teams.
    Schalk won't make a huge amount of difference as Brussow was awesome and Schalk will be that one extra match devoid of practice.
    I believe that the third and final test will, and should, be the real contest that shows where the teams really are against each other.
    As for Shane...? I reckon he'd have got the second Monye try, but not the first... both instances due to his relative shortness!
    Sorry, I'm whittering now - my team (for what it's worth.. nothing surprising):
    15) Lee Byrne/Kearney (Kearney almost equal)
    14) Tommy Bowe (fantastic)
    13) Brian O'Driscoll aka B.O.D (agree with chap who said he should captain)
    12) Jamie Roberts
    11) Monye (Shane if blinding tonight - needs two tries min.)
    10) Stephen Jones/R.O.G (but bring on Hook at 60 mins)
    9) Mike Phillips (come on... almost two tries, would Ellis/Blair - too small for Boks)
    8) Jamie Heaslip
    7) Martyn Williams
    6) Tom Croft
    5) Alun-Wyn Jones
    4) Simon Shaw
    3) Adam Jones
    2) Lee Mears
    1) Gethin Jenkins

  • Comment number 36.

    Dave Fleming

    I disagree. Everyone has their opinion on who should play fly half but you cannot judge who should play by the results between Ospreys and Munster. I don't think, with the best will in the world, O'Gara singlehandeldy won those games and nor did Jones "choke" in the grand slam game or last weekend. He didn't shine but let's face it the pack didn't exactly help the cause. It's not like Jones' performance was down there with Vickery! If you want to discuss choking - look at O Gara's performance when he had Jonny Wilkinson's points record on his mind...

    The problem with O Gara is that he is just too lightweight in defence. Add to that the fact that our best pairing/players are the centres and I would rather see Jones or Hook inside them providing service that O Gara kicking the ball away.

    He hasn't just kicked a lot this tour - he has all his career. Jones isn't spectacular, he is steady. Lets face it we are weak in the fly half position. In a few years Hook will be the kind of all round player we need now...

  • Comment number 37.

    Also forgot to mention, it was bit harsh singling out vickery for blame. I'm no expert on the front row, but doesnt the thighthead take their loosehead and hooker? Our hooker was a tiny fellow who was no match for their hooker, so surley this was the cause of vickery's troubles, trying to pick up the slack from the little guy.

  • Comment number 38.

    For me Shane Williams should start, regardless of whether he is in form or not.
    The problem that the Lions will have on Saturday is that they will man mark Jamie Roberts (just like England did in the 6 Nations) and as a result will probably have a poor game.(I can forsee the slating he will get on here) The 'Boks will smash him all over the place after his excellent performance last week.
    So, in order to lessen the problem, Shane has to start. The 'Boks are scared of him and this will mean there are two players in the Lions team the 'Boks will be wary of and this can only play into the hands of the Lions, as in my view the backline of the Lions is better than their S.African opposites.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well done to the Lions for a great match last weekend - can't wait for tonight's game. Ian McGeechan must be a very good coach to bring out the best of his team at last weeks test as this SA team is one of the best I have ever seen. Brian O'Driscoll is undoubtedly the best centre around currently - embarrased the springbok backline.
    Marty - Stormers supporter.

  • Comment number 40.

    BigCoalTit have 8 welsh named in your side? and complain that the Irish want to install their own?
    What have Wales won this or country?
    of course the core of the team should be made up of RECENT WINNERS..which are Ireland and Leinster !!
    Test front row should be all Munster and why Horan in not on tour is a complete mystery...

  • Comment number 41.

    Hmmm Bowelhead 1984, two players who the Boks are scared off. They wouldn't both be .......WELSH, would they ?

    Imagine what would happen if they picked the whole Welsh team. The poor Boks would be quaking in their boots. No chance of ever beating them. Oh, hang on a minute......

    Get over it. Shane Williams has had more chances on this tour than any other player. He has not taken them. Monye deserved his place on his form going in to the test last week. No other winger in his position had put their hand up high (unlike Tommy Bowe on the other wing).

    P.S: I think the SA's may rate O'Driscoll a little bit. Imagine if he was Welsh .......

    Come on the Lions !!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    I worry about Steyn's boot too on the highveld, all those scrums the lions are going to get inside the bok 22 for the ball going dead! Let's hope he's accurate and doesn't give it the full whack.

  • Comment number 43.

    Actually, I didn't 'complain', and don't have and issue with the Irish wanting to instill their own. You are correct only to a degree, young master Fleming... I think most would agree that these selections are:
    a) reflective the series so far,
    b) indicate the difficulty of seletion, and
    c) if you look carefully (instead of getting unnecessarily wound up) you'll see that two of those have Irish alternatives, so actually only six welsh 'definites' mentioned.
    Are you happy now? I don't want you getting upset because, after all, we are the British and Irish Lions and we're supposed to be a united front, not a fractious little bunch of whingers.
    Chin up and enjoy the rest of the series (please)

  • Comment number 44.

    Although Horan can be a good player he is not on this tour because most of the time he is a bigger risk than Mike Tyson at a strip bar.
    If people thought Vickery gives away a lot of penalties he has got nothing on Horan

  • Comment number 45.

    Oh dear, national bias kicks in. Im my view Ireland are the weakest Grand Slam winners in history (Wales and France were lacklustre) but I wont say that here as it will rile some and is off topic ;-)

    Shane deserves another chance tonight. He has been waaay off form but then nobody has stepped up and made themselves a shoe in. Shane is, in my opinion, the best finisher on tour even if not at his best. We are judging him by the high standards he set. He may not be up to beating 6 men and scoring but given the right service (none in the midweek games) he will do a job. Only the British (and Irish) would slate and rule out the current IRB world player of the year...

    If you want to select purely on form we's have a team on 9 players and POC certainly wouldnt be in there...

    I'd give hayes a shout

  • Comment number 46.

    having a successful season gets you on the plane, but once it lands everyone starts with a clean slate and its performances in the provincial games which earn the test shirt. byrne, roberts, phillips, jenkins etc have earned their starts from their tour performances the same as o'driscoll, heaslip and bowe have, regardless of what sort of season they have had. tough calls between williams/wallace and jones/o'gara, could argue those all day.
    from an english lions fan

  • Comment number 47.

    Dave Fleming (40) It's true that at this present time the bulk of the squad should consist of players from Wales and Ireland as they have been the form players. But to suggest players should be in based on whether they have won the most recent tournament just shows your lack of knowledge in the game.

    However, teams should be selected having taken into account a number of factors, and therefore select the best team available to beat the opposition.

    Talk about form, O'Gara has played really well on tour hasn't he?

  • Comment number 48.

    Agree with many posts about not over reacting - Vickery got done in the scrum and it cost us atleast 9 points, we would have won otherwise. Gutted Murray is out, best tighthead in NH and felt he didn't get much of a chance before his injury.
    I'd put A Jones in for Vickery, keep Melon on the loose but PLEASE no Rees - he can't hit a Barn door if he misses his first throw. Lee Mears has been consistent enough for me.
    Only other possible change is Martin William for Wallace. Stand alone Williams is the best 7 around, but not sure what game Lions want to play. Williams should have played last week against Brussow, but might not be as effective against Burger, so they might keep Wallace - either way we get a world class 7. To think Rees might get a test start before nugget just shows the varying lack of depth at hooker and openside!
    Hope Hook is on the bench, would have prefered BOD captain (agree that POC might have struggled for his place if not Capt) but apart from that more of the same please!!

  • Comment number 49.

    Response to comment 11 firstly (welsh_ian):-

    To say that James Hook struggles with nerves and that his kicking is the first to go is absolute rubbish, If you actually watch any of his games it is when he switches off it is his problem, he seems to lose a bit of concentration. When the pressure is on he rises to the occasion, numerous last gasp kicks to win games for the ospreys (sale & harlequins for example), came off the bench against Australia and kicked everything to earn a draw, the other week for the lions to beat the Cheetahs, the list goes on.

    Anyway back to tonight, it is a massive opportunity for numerous players especially for the likes of ROG, Hines/Shaw, as well the two williams'.
    ROG would have to play out of skin to make saturday's team in my opinion (not that Stephen Jones is playing all that great), as he hasn't really shown much form on this tour and he is much weaker defensively than both Jones and Hook.
    Hines or Shaw will add much needed bulk to the pack along with Rees and A.Jones, thus allowing for M.Williams to come in on Sat barring he has a decent game tonight, as Wallace has done very little wrong to assume that Williams should go straight in.
    Even though I am a self confessed Shane Williams fan, the decision to pick Monye on Saturday was the correct one, although he has left the door open for Williams and Fitzgerald and even Kearney (if Byrne is Fit), with his inability to take his chances. The lions have obviously tried to gave Shane Williams as many opportunities as possible on this tour but he has been unable to grasp any of them, although in his defence he has been feeding of scraps in most of the games, so If he puts in a big performance I can see him starting on Saturday in front of the powerful Monye and the talented Fitzgerald.

    Come on the Lions!!

  • Comment number 50.

    This tour seems a little strange. I think the management has tried to hard too avoid woodwards mistakes of splitting the tour into test and midweek factions. I maybe mistaken and cant be bothered to check the facts but wasn't saturdy the first time the test team had played together? In years gone by, i'm sure the initial test team was decided by the first tour game. Then a good midweek performance put you in line for the weekend and conversly a bad performance one weekend and you would be in with the midweekers. After the rounds of provincial games the test squad would be decided in the last man standing style and the bulk of it had been playing together for a couple of weeks. As it stands, giving every player a chance and mixing the teams for the tour games has exgerated what was alwayg going to be our main weakness, trying to gell 4 nations and 4 styles against a well drilled team. Maybe its no coincedence that we have been poor in all but the 1st tour in the professional era.

  • Comment number 51.

    Comment 40. Dave Fleming

    I agree that Horan should be out there. But to say that the front row should be all Munster is daft as Flannery is crocked and John Hayes is well past it, (did you see him on the last Lions tour?!?!)

    Oh and I think maybe, just maybe Bigcoaltit was taking the michael.............

  • Comment number 52.

    Mr McCaw, right on the money there! Good man.
    ha ha

  • Comment number 53.

    The Boks will win, Schalk back in the squad is a bit of a question mark tho? I'd start with Brussouw & bring schalk on in the 2nd half.
    Stephen Jones never had a great game but i feel there's something there, mite have a super saturday. If the lions baclk line can click, there will be problems for the boks, but they've shown that they can defend well. Regardless, a mighty effort by the lions will inevitably end in defeat. GO BOKKE!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 54.

    Four countries to select from and they still can't win.

  • Comment number 55.

    I dont see that too many players from tonights game will be figuring in the thoughts for Saturday.

    In all honesty only maybe Shane and M Williams and Hines has an outside chance. O Gara is backed in to third as he is a bit on the flakey side, cant kick nearly as well as hook or control a game like Jones.

    There seems to be a bit of an Irish / Welsh division of opinion, and the cries of the Irish to get as many starters as possible irrespective of form of ability. Surely we wan to win the second and 3rd tests rather than flatter egos ?

    Horan should be there ? I don't think so.

    I am disappointed that Flutey has not shone more on tour but am not really surprised by the great Jamie Roberts. When the lions play Shane, Jamie and BOD that will be a sight.

  • Comment number 56.

    A word about Ugo Monye.

    I agree that it is unfair to call for Ugo to be dropped because he didn't score a try last Saturday. While he made mistakes for both tries, the Bokke defence was a lot better than what he's used to playing against, and that's what stopped him scoring.

    My bigger concern with Ugo is his defence. Not his tackling. Not his speed. Not his physicality. His defence. His ability to read the game, to be in the right place at the right time. To know when to go for a ball or tackle, or when to hold back. His positioning under a high kick.

    He went missing for the kick to his corner that led to the first SA try, and SA looked for him with kicks whenever they could, because they know he's a weakness.

    If he had scored those 2 tries, then it might be different. But based on his overall performance on tour, in which his defensive weakness has come up several times, I think he should be dropped.

  • Comment number 57.

    49 McCaw07
    I agree with you point the game he played against Australia he was immense and he has stepped up for the Ospreys and won games. But whether it is nerves or lack of concentration he does miss kicks that you would expect an international goal kicker to get. that is why i said he should start on bench they should go with Jones or ROG to start hopefully he will prove me wrong and have another game like he did against Australia because i think he is unplayable when he is on top form

  • Comment number 58.

    Geech has continually stressed how much form is the deciding criteria for selection yet he, along with much of the British media and many contributors to forums, blogs and message boards seem to forget how dominant Irish rugby is in the NH right now, Grand Slam, Heinekin Cup, Magners League and now the Churchill Cup underlying the strength in depth of the sport in Ireland right now.
    For the life of me I cannot understand the criticism of Paul O'Connell who had done nothing wrong nor can I understand the lack of support on one side of the Irish Sea for Ronan O'Gara's inclusion.
    Having seen all the matches, I would argue that the opening game against the Royals notwithstanding, there's barely beena bad performance from the Irish boys and I believe there is a strong case to start with nine of them on Saturday.
    Trust in winners _ it's the best policy!
    My Test XV: Kearney, Bowe, O'Driscoll, Roberts, Fitzgerald, O'Gara, Phillips, Jenkins, Rees, A Jones, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Wallace, Croft, Heaslip.

  • Comment number 59.


    There amy be 4 countries to pick from but how many have rugby as their national game ?

    And of the country that does some of their best players have not been picked ot were not playing on sat just gone.

    Things will be different on sat.

  • Comment number 60.

    Perryashburtongroves (54)
    "Four countries to select from and they still can't win."

    A bit harsh but there is a real issue here which I fear could spell the end of the Lions in the long term... The Lions haven't won a series for an age and this could be a 3-0 whitewash. The problem is that we play these tours away from home at the end of a long season and the fact is that we have too many injuries, too many tired players facing fresh opposition... I have no doubt we would see parity and perhaps Lions' dominance if that wasn't the case but there is too much rugby being played. The list of injured players who could, when fit, start these games is as long as your arm

  • Comment number 61.

    jamicill (58)

    Let's not get overexcited, The Irish had a cracking seasona nd fair play to them but they played at their absolute best whereas, for whatever reason, Wales, France and England didn't perform in the 6 nations. Yet Ireland were about 6 inches (Jones' kick) from seeing the championship disappear.

    5 irish backs. Really? Oh dear... I'm surprised you picked Roberts! Irish success is driven by strong forward play.

    Ps "form" does not mean a tournament which was won in the spring.

  • Comment number 62.

    Yes Boys and Gals's all just a bit of healthy banter !!
    but I do feel ROG desrves a test start over his Welsh compatriots...
    He can look a bit lightweight on the tackle but this year he had two missed over the course of the six nations series...
    Others would argue that he kicks crossfield too often and maybe they are right, but isn't he following the game plan instruction? and has yielded some very important scores..
    His kicking has always been his strong point and over the years has won his side many big games....
    Jones's has upped his game since Hook arrived and that has been a big positive for Jones himself and Welsh rugby...
    I think we will have the same in Ireland from now on with the arrival of Sexton..ROG had a stinker in the HC semi....

    I Don't blame Jones for last weeks loss as I am inclined to blame Mr. M for his team blame just cannot fail to score in those positions at this level !

  • Comment number 63.

    I picked Jamie Roberts because he has been outstanding, just as BOD and Bowe have been on tour, just as Kearney was when he came on in the First Test and while O'Gara hasn't quite scaled such heights, he's looked far and away the best fly half when up against top class opposition.
    This isn't anything to do with Irish bias _ because I wasn't born there.
    And as for getting `overexcited' about Ireland's Grand Slam, you're missing the point.
    The fact that the Irish provinces and Ireland's second string are enjoying unprecedented success, doesn't just point to the country's rugby talent, it also points to Ireland have discovered the winning mentality it lacked for all too long.
    Considering the Lions haven't won a Test since Brisbane in 2001, I would suggest that `winning mentality' is a quality they could do with right now.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think only 2 changes HAVE to be made to the Test team, and that is 3 and 11, Vickery and Monye. (No, that is not an anti-England thing.)

    There are a number of other changes that COULD be made, and some may be enforced by injury. (Lee Byrne.)

    My test Team for Saturday, Test 2.

    1) Jenkins
    2) Rees
    3) A. Jones
    4) O'Callaghan
    5) O'Connell
    6) Tom Croft
    7) M. Williams
    8) Heaslip
    9) Phillips
    10) O'Gara
    11) Fitzgerald
    12) Roberts
    13) O'Driscoll
    14) Bowe
    15) Byrne/Kearney

    16) Mears
    17) Hayes
    18) AWJ
    19) Wallace
    20) Ellis
    21) S. Jones
    22) Kearney/D'Arcy/Earls/Flutey/Hook

    In some cases I'm merely swapping the starter/bench role. O'Gara/Jones and Wallace/Williams have all done nothing wrong on tour, and despite some scurrilous scribblings on these blogs are all top class players, with little to choose between them. (IE Jones' tackling is only slightly better than O'Gara, O'Gara's kicking and game control is only slightly better than Jones.)

    I would start Rees and move Mears to the bench. This will improve our scrums, and hopefully our rucks and mauls. Mears can come on if the lineout is a disaster, and he will be more effective in the last 20 minutes with his pace and mobility.

    I would start O'Callaghan, as he is a specialist front-of-lineout jumper. Also, he has a nasty streak about a mile wide. Also, he knows to take down the ball-carrier IMMEDIATELY to stop a driving maul. Finally, when O'Connell carries ball for Munster and Ireland O'Callaghan is usually the first man to bind and drive him, or the first man to hit the ruck and protect possession. Too many forwards standing around last week while O'Connell got triple-tackled.

    I'd keep Alun-Wyn Jones on the bench, as he has played well, and is the best cover available for middle-of-lineout, ie if the worst happens and we lose O'Connell.

    I've put Hayes on the bench, but Vickery could make a comeback too. Sheridan is injured, and Payne is, well he's behind Hayes.

    I thought last weeks backrow were excellent, and would only start Williams ahead of Wallace for strategic reasons. He is better at 'getting to' the opposition outhalf, and he slows down their ball at the ruck. After 60 minutes of frustration, Wallace could come on to power through tired Boks with his ludicrous drives. Or if Martyn is getting killed he could come on sooner.

    While Phillips was slow, he was also dangerous, and with him on the field it's less likely a SA backrow forward will get a free run at ROG.
    Ellis on the bench, unless Blair has a stormer this evening.

    I think ROG deserves his shot at outhalf. I don't think Jones is rubbish, I think they are the two best outhalves in the NH, but at the moment I think ROG is playing slightly better. His passing will put Roberts/BOD/Bowe into gaps, his grubbers and cross-field kicks will turn the SA blitz defence and make space, his place-kicking has been immaculate and he's even making tackles!
    But Jones is still good, and while he isn't as good at 12 or 15 as Hook, he's a damn sight better at 10, so he gets the bench spot.

    Rest of the backline largely picks itself. I'd go for Fitzgerald at 11, rather than Kearney, because he's faster and more elusive.

    If Byrne is injured, and it seems like he is still carrying the injury that ruled him out of the 6N game vs Ireland, then Kearney must start at full-back. I rate Byrne more highly for the way he comes into the line, but not enough to carry him if he's not 100%.

    Last bench spot is open, particularly if Byrne is out completely. Hook/Earls/D'Arcy can cover fullback and center, as well as wing.
    Flutey is good too, and I suppose we'll see who gets on best tonight.

    I will, of course, be cheering the Lions regardless of who is picked.
    C'mon you Reds!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    "Four countries to select from and they still can't win."

    That is the conundrum.

    SA or any international team have been playing together in some form since youth level and the lions are basically a scratch side, some of whom play along side each other.

    90% of SA's game is played on the training ground. The lions test series is won or lost on the team gelling and combinations working (I dont think anyone would have chosen roberts at centre before his partnership with BOD) and they dont get long to find those combo's.

  • Comment number 66.


    That is exactly what makes the Lions so special and such a challenge.
    It is exactly that challenge that will ensure the Lions never die and continue to tour for many decades to come.

    Anybody who has seen Roberts play before would have made him 1st choice at centre and with two such players in there alongside maybe Shane the Lions are blessed.

    Every British player wants to be a lion it is the pinnacle and should they win a series they become legends.

  • Comment number 67.

    Mr Alias (are you a Welshman in disguise). I think you will find that is every British and Irish player wants to be a Lion. We have contributed a bit to past tours you know. If you Welshmen allow it, we could possibly contribute to this one as well. We might be allowed to clean your boots or maybe run on the field with the kicking tee etc..All we are good for, really, wouldn't you say.


  • Comment number 68.

    I think writing off O'Gara's chances for a start on saturday are possibly wrong. McGeechan would have had no option but to play O'Gara tonight due to Jones playing only 3 days ago and Hook coming back from injury. If O'Gara gets a few early penalty kicks over tonight and plays a steady game he may see himself being subbed early on 2nd half for Hook and cement his spot at OH for saturday and then Hook take the bench spot.

    Although Jones only missed those two pens (and they weren't gimmes) on sat, you would still put money on O'Gara getting at least one of them. Penalty kick success are so important at test level, so i believe the shirt is O'Gara's to win provided he's competent tonight. Too often in big games S Jones has handed kicks over to Halfpenny, Hook, Henson and various Scarlets players when he's missed a few. He obviously has confidence issues at times.

    I'm Welsh and feel more confident of them going over when O'Gara is putting his boot behind it.

    Whoever gets the nod lets hope as a Lion he plays a blinder!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 69.


    Don't do the Irish down they can do more than that after all the tour party needs water boys, kit men and somebody has to drive the bus..

    Nah not really I jest some of my best friends are Irish as is my Business partner and I have a great affinity with the Irish.

    There are some great Irish players both now and down the years but contrary to the comments of people earlier Ireland will not win this tour.
    It is clear what choices need to be re the 2nd test team.

  • Comment number 70.

    3 tests every 4 years is not good for team building. Its also why it took the south africans a couple of years to re-establish themselves in world rugby after their exclusion.
    Man for man, i think the lions squad is probably better, on average (obviously with exceptions) which is why they can still compete, but SA's better team play and players understanding is a huge advantage.
    Oh, and its a very strange feeling sticking up for an english prop when he's having a torrid time, i've been repenting all week. But thats what makes the lions

  • Comment number 71.

    Hows this for a great Lions Team

    Jones, Rees, Jenkins, AW Jones, Hines,M Williams,Wallace,Powell,Phillips,Jones,Hook, Roberts, S Williams, Byrne ,Bowe

    BOD would make an excellent impact player in the last 20 from the bench.

  • Comment number 72.

    Alas, Alias

    Neither will your 'Wales' team. That's why we have a 'Lions' team. One that represents us all and not just one nation (but I forget that it's your national sport and not ours. You are just not very good at it at the moment). I couldn't care less if they were all English and Scots and no Irish.

    Where have I heard that phrase of yours before. I'm not 'blank' my best friend is 'blank'. I know lots of 'blanks'. Hmmm !

  • Comment number 73.

    Perhaps if Gough, Henson and Ryan Jones had all been available the first test would have ended in victory.

  • Comment number 74.

    Alias - ha ha - what about Halfpenny and Shanklin?

    In all seriousness, I had Halfpenny to start before he was injured

  • Comment number 75.

    Think I might be going a bit crazy, thinking about the Lions way too much, but is it completely out of the realm of possibility that ...... oh god Im actually going to sugest this..... Earls could get a bench spot? Never thought Id say that a week ago.Im just imagining a scenario with Byrne not fit, Jones/ROG starting with Hook as cover at 10. He would cover all of the back three, and the centers (though the image of either center coming off for Earls makes me feel kinda sick!). He has played well at 15!?

    Right...back to take my crazy pills in my padded room....

  • Comment number 76.

    Alias-TJ, don't forget 1/2penny!

  • Comment number 77.

    It is not beyond the realms powerRugbyG.
    Tonight is a massive game for some of those players and a performance plus potential injuries could elevate some to a shot.

    I really hope the guys do us proud tonight. I hope that Shane has a good game and would like to see Hook come on for a portion too.

    It would be pleasing if Fitzgerald gets over the line tonight I thin khe has had a great season and deserves a good one.

    CMON THE LIONS !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 78.

    Can we get Scott quinell out there to replace powell

  • Comment number 79.


    No Doubt Shanks is great. Had it not been for injury the Lions would have an embarassment of riches on this tour. Still may edge it overall but it will be one hell of a comeback if they do. Id love to see it.

  • Comment number 80.


    The best post on this blog. Agree with 100% of what you say except for one thing.

    Philips: The two steps before the pass will kill us. He needs to cut that out. He would be in my team only through a dearth of replacements.

  • Comment number 81.

    Perhaps if Johnson, JPR, Calder and Wood had been available we would have won.
    They were not available arent there, so stop harping on.

  • Comment number 82.


    Even now, Derek Quinell would be better at playing with less errors than Powell.

  • Comment number 83.

    I've been amused by the heavy irony on some of the last ten posts or so. Some people have completely failed to see it... Alias, you should be a stand up.
    You'll like this one... I for one have changed my team selection and think it should be:
    1) Jenkins
    2) Rees
    3) A Jones
    4) Wyn-Jones
    5) Gough (if sent for and fit)
    6) J Thomas (if sent for and fit)
    7) M. Williams
    8) R Jones (if his head stops hurting)
    9) Phillips
    10) Jones
    11) Shane
    12) Henson (if we can persuade him to ignore a slight twinge in his calf)
    13) Roberts
    14) I Evans (if he'd only come out of retirement)
    15) Byrne/JPR Williams (only if he promises to use the '99' call)

    16) JJ Williams
    17) Jiffy
    18) Hook
    19) Barry John
    20) Matt Dawson
    21) BOD
    22) ROG/Humphreys

  • Comment number 84.

    As an ex Brit living in S Africa I really have to say that if the Lions win a single test they will be very fortunate. They suffer, as do all N hemisphere teams, from what I call "professional nonchalance". It's as if they have a contract with the opposition, and the first half in Durban epitomised this. It was only when they realised they were in for a roasting that they reacted and broke the contract. I'm afraid they wont be so fortunate in the remaining test matches. They are not a great side.

  • Comment number 85.


    I disagree. It has a lot to do with:

    1. Putting together a "scratch" team in minimal time
    2. Doing this at the end of a long, tough season meaning those that are fit are exhausted
    3. While we have injuries not only to several possible test starters but also to many 2nd choice players
    4. All this while the southern hemisphere sides are very fresh and fit

    If any of the SH sides were to come to the UK and play a Lions team here in, say February or March, we would be ultra confident

  • Comment number 86.

    I'd also bring in Gareth thomas. Between him, henson and mat dawson we'd get all the gos' from behind the mask of the happy camp.

  • Comment number 87.

    I'm really struggling to get my head round the criticism Monye's been getting. Not only has he statistically been the deadliest finisher on tour (with the exception of Bowe), but his defence has been to a level way above that of both Williams and Fitzgerald. He is joint top scorer on the tour, one of the quickest in the squad and I don't ever recall Shane Williams dumping a forward into touch.

    With no reliable evidence of Williams being up to the standard he needs to be to face arguably the southern hemisphere's most physical side, I see no reason why his name is being bandied about as the obvious candidate to replace Monye in the next test. He is only good when he is on fire. And even then you have to question his physical presence. Anything short of top form for Williams is not Lions-test level rugby if you ask me.

    Monye was unlucky with the both opportunities against the Boks. The first one especially. But even on the second it was a great tackle from behind to dislodge the ball. I'd put that down to great defence more than poor finishing. I still believe he'll come good in one of the big matches - or at least stands a better chance of doing so than anybody else on the bench.

  • Comment number 88.

    to Leeboy,
    Do you think the SH teams have been resting? They have just finished a gruelling super 14 championship, which I can assure you this Lions team would not win. In fact if they finished half way up the log they'd be lucky.
    All teams face injuries.
    This Bok side is a scratch side with political interference.
    The press in both the UK and S Africa are trying to talk up a storm, but really, this Lions side is very mediocre. Northern teams just don't cut it. Anyway the proof of the pudding will be apparent in a short time.

  • Comment number 89.

    Your righ thatmcgrath, obviously the NH teams are rubbish, its not like one of them was in the final of the world cup last time round, and won it the time before that......ow wait, actually...

    Ignoring that nonsense, really feel for the guys playing for a test spt today, its gonna be really hard to impress in such awful conditions! Shame for ROG, M Williams (though maybe might suit him?), S Williams/Fitz (cant see the ball going far wide tonight. Still we shall see!


  • Comment number 90.


    Sorry, can't agree. Yes all teams face injuries but the list this series is extraordinary. Even replacements have been sent home.

    And whilst the s14 maybe a good tournament, you comment that the Lions would finish "half way up" is laughable and with respect, a somestic championship is not the same level as test rugby. The SA team, has been resting in a training camp for 3 weeks and they are gearing up to a tri nations tournament. They are in perfect shape for test match rugby and the Lions are not

    I don't think the SH is waaay better, if at all, that the NH. France beat NZ less than 2 weeks ago and should have beat them again on Sat.

    And as a proud Welsh man it pains me to say this but let's remember that one of the worst England teams for years got to the world cup final after a great England team won the previous

    Some guy above called the SA team "the best he's seen". I don't agree but the Lions were close to beating this SA team with so many injuries and I would be very confident that they would wipe the floor with the current Aussie side and beat the NZ side. It's just that the SA team have the edge right now. But to say the NH doesn't cut the mustard is plainly wrong

  • Comment number 91.

    power rugbyg
    No not all NH teams are rubbish. This Lions side is not a great one, not by any stretch of the imagination. Don't let it upset you. The English side that won the world cup in Australia was a good side, no doubt, and no doubt there will be good sides from the NH every now and again, but it is telling to look at just who has won the cup since its inception - since you brought it up.

  • Comment number 92.

    Fair enough the SH teams have been very impressive, just dont think its fair to say the 'NH teams just don't cut it'. Its a bit disrespectful to some fantastic teams. And as someone pointed out, the French did effectively win the series Vs NZ on points difference.

    I love the lions tours, break up the long gap between world cups beautifully!! And I feel confident at the very least this will not be a whitewash!

  • Comment number 93.

    Half time, players impressing? For me both wings have been very good, flutey impressive work rate feel he has been hampered by a slight lack of fitness, DOC good, would like to see more of M Williams, and after that first miss ROG played well, horrible conditions!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Power - yeah I agree, Shane has done well in defence too. Full back has been a bit ropey. ROG has done ok and all those who slated Jones for the missed pens can eat their words. It can happen to anyone. Powell hasnt done enough

  • Comment number 95.

    In my humble opinion:

    The following put their hands up: S Williams (excellent 2nd half), ROG (controlled it well in conditions that suit him), DOC, Hook

    The following did pretty well: M Williams, Fitzgerald (1st half)

    The following need to get their coats: Worsley, Ellis, D'arcy,Earls (one good kick on 74 mins doesn't mask the rest of the game) and Vickery (who was bood onto the pitch not cheered despite what the numpty commentator said-clearly his mate) Tempted to say Powell too

    The rest made no impression on me either way...

  • Comment number 96.

    95 Leeboy3000

    Can't agree about Hook, did nothing and gave away precious possession at the end from which came ESA's try. O'Gara did not do enough. Can't see any of tonights bunch make the first fifteen for Saturday.

    Ellis was very very poor, let's hope Phillips does not get injured because for all his faults he the best of a very bad lot.

    And can we all agree, for ever and a day (as Nigel Starmer Smith used to say) that Andy Powell should never have been selected in the first place.

    Referees, are all Referee prats, Rolland is so pompous, it's all about him

  • Comment number 97.

    Second test

    Jones (A)

  • Comment number 98.

    agree with most of above leeboy3000

    rog may have played himself into a test place i wouldn't be surprised if he started on saturday, despite jones' absence tonight. i'm afraid s williams didn't really do enough for me tonight but again it wouldn't surprise me if he started (did he do enough to stop the e boxs try). again doc deserves his bench spot he played well tonight and showed good leadership when o gara went off. again not sure if hook did enough but he could be in line for a spot on the bench. annoyed at all 3 wings if i'm honest as neither williams, fitzgerald or monye (although he was on for a brief period) did anything to impress... that 11 jersey is still undecided as yet... as irish though i would like to see fitzgerald a run out.
    williams also played well and should be in line for a starting berth - surprised he got a full game actually can anyone explain this?
    worsley, ellis, fluety and ford should all start warming their seats in the stand. don't count d'arcy out just yet. cant wait for gecch's selection come thursday...

  • Comment number 99.


    Were we the only 2 watching this game tonight?

    Completely agree with you about selection although for sat. kearney on the wing is a worry as Ugo was harshly criticised and as people find it hard to applaud south african defence (which morne steyn and de villiers did well against him). Plus i would start Kearney at Fullback, Bryne has lost form.

    No players did themselves any favours tonight..

    Martin Williams would normally start as he is a legend but he does look like his injury is hampering him.

    Luke Fitzgerald made a nice break against a mediocre team but also missed 2 tackles (remind me the last time Ugo was run through?) and his kicking is appalling.

    Shane Williams is not the man from last year, and doesnt deserve to play, he only danced around 3 players all night, defended quite well, kicked badly but against this team he should have done more surely? Their winger that came on looked far dangerous than any of our lot!

    Simon Shaw had a good game but not sure if he deserves to start, definate bench.

    Ronan Ogara cannot start. His defence is worse than Fitzgeralds. Hook may have the shout but i would stick with jones to sort out his slow delivery and decision making from last week.

    Powell still run sideways... has anyone else notcied that? and he still loses the ball a lot.

    But lets get behind these boys no matter who is playing!

    Go Lions!

  • Comment number 100.

    Hey WillyGilly,
    You got it 100% last week, can you call it from here ????


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