Fantastic to get that first test victory but whilst the bookies may have the Lions as firm favourites to win the series if you watched the game on Saturday morning the win was far from convincing.
I did an interview on Friday for a national newspaper and expressed a little concern about whether we should play the Lions captain Sam Warburton in the first test. Why? Well of you don’t watch too much rugby you are probably quite bemused at some of the referee decisions particularly when play breaks down and all the bodies pile in. Well you are not alone as players, coaches and commentators are equally bemused at times. However the ref on Saturday is well known for blowing his whistle at the breakdown and therefore the other Welsh flanker Justin Tipuric would have been a smarter pick as he is brilliant in open play. It was no surprise to me that on Saturday we were on the back foot as we could not secure the ball without being pinged by the ref.
The Australians are a pretty resilient bunch and showed it on Saturday as they somehow absorbed the loss of 4 key players to injury and still should have won the game with the last kick. You just had to feel for Kurtly Beale the Wallabies kicker – must be the worst feeling in the world to miss the chance to give your side a crucial win. The look on his face afterwards said it all. However despite the loss the Aussies should feel good and will come back stronger next week. They handled our scrum pretty well particularly when we made changes to the front row in the second half.
England prop Alex Corbiserio was outstanding and you could see why he was picked ahead of the explosive Vunipola. His scrummaging is top class but he still had a massive impact around the park winning most of the collisions. Lovely turn of speed for a prop when he broke through the line – not sure the my pace would have got me through that gap! Big, big concern to lose Paul O COnnell – another man mountain who adds so much to the pack. I can tell you it makes a big difference when you pack down in the front row to have blokes like O Connell in the second row. There are however some other good options in his position as the cupboard is not so bare as the one marked ‘centres and wingers’!.
Overall I don’t want to be negative as Lions Test wins are a very precious thing but I feel a little uneasy about next week. It will be very interesting to see if headman Warren Gatland makes some changes or allows the same side to try and deliver a big improvement.
I will once again be parked in front on the TV next Saturday for the second test with a touch of nerves for the boys and know we will improve but also the Australians will too. Bring it on.
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