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13) Odriscoll - Again has not really warranted selection after first 2 tests but experience needed due to loss of Captain and needed for that role.
14) Bowe - Just has the nod over Cuthbert as his defence is far better and has a better rugby brain. For all the good Cuthbert can do, he does make silly errors and miss tackles.
15) Halfpenny - Obvious call
Replacements, Corb Dan Cole, Dan Lydiate, Owen Farrell, Hibbard, Twelvetrees (not as strange as it sounds), Murray and a Back row cover who cannot decide upon as yet.
To me this is not about picking a team to maintain a good strong defence, and steadily move us up the pitch in order to kick points when they become available.
I dare not look at the stats for the last game as they will be pretty sad reading. I do know that Mako was definitely the top tackler and as I saw it carried the most of all the players.
If not for the importance of getting the scrum right I would not have had Jones starting as, as good as he is at scrum time he was by far the worst in open play. Very few tackles and rarely carries.
5 Months, 1 Week ago
My selection is almost the same now as it would have been for the first test. I have had to make a couple of changes due to injury but here goes and why.
1) Mako Vunipola - I think Mako has had a bum deal over the past few days and has to some degree been used as a scape goat. He was singled out by the ref for a couple of so called scrum infringements but I think he has been unlucky. Lets face it If Brian Moore rarely goes against ref's and is very knowledgeable in the dark art of scrimmage and if anyone has read his report in the Telegraph they would not be so quick to point the finger of blame. That aside not only does he carry more than most other front row forwards but was the top tackler in the second test. His all round game would suit my selection.
2) Tom Youngs - Easy one this... not only has he been one of the better Lions players so far, he surprisingly took the starting position and has hardly put a foot wrong since.
3) Adam Jones - Although has offered little in open play, by far one of the better tight heads in the world.
4) Alun-Wyn Jones - Another easy one as again one of the better performing players.
5) Parling - Line out immense and good work around the park.
6) Croft - To me has to come back in not just for line out but for his ability to attack.
8) Faletau - How he was not the starting 8 is beyond me. The moment I saw Heaslip on the team sheet I cringed as it just showed what kind of game they were looking to play.
9) Youngs - Phillips was my initial choice after the pre test games but he was poor in the first test.
10) Sexton - This is a 50/50 call as he too has done nothing over Farrell to warrant the first choice and his place kicking is not as good should there be a problem with halfpenny.
11) North - Easy one
12) Manu Tuilagi - For lions to get going forward a must. Davies has done nothing special in attack over last 2 tests.
Will continue in next post
5 Months, 1 Week ago
Sorry to say but either Gatland got it wrong or the team did not execute whatever the game plan was! On that point can anyone establish what the game plan was?
As others feared the exclusion of someone like Tuilagi proved a vital error in my opinion.
I am a big fan of Davies and as I have said before Odriscoll is one of the all time great Lions centres (if not World), but he midfield was almost none existent.
The strike weapons of North, Bowe could not be brought into play save the odd run when Bowe came in looking for work.
I am a great believer in building a score especially when you envisage a close match, but when your opposition have conceded 2 very early penalties for the same thing and have been given the warning of a yellow deep in there own 22, within the first few minutes to me they should have gone for the lineout and set the pace.
Yes building a score important but we had an early chance to get them right on the back foot. Having been Mauled off the park twice and warned they were more likely to concede a try if not penalty try and potentially have a player rest for 10 mins.
This is not hind sight as I did not agree with the decision at the time.
Towards the middle of the game we had almost doubled the Aussie tackle count? Does that suggest they were so much better at ball retention and attack or did we just rely to much on an aggressive defence. Where has all the flare gone from most of these players which I watched during the pre test matches.
If this does not spark some changes for the final test or at least a change in game plan we are doomed to another 12 years of what ifs. This is by far one of the better Lions teams I have seen but for me the wrong players are out there on test match day.
Vinupola after a shakey start was one of the better players. He rivalled the back row in tackles, carried and gave a full 80 min performance.
5 Months, 2 Weeks ago
I agree with you there Jimbo (on Tuilagi) I watched that game and if you look at him licking his lips during the Haka you just thought he was like a predator waiting to devour his prey.
I honestly thought that it would always come down to whether or not it was he or Roberts and the difficulty would then be who to select to partner. Lets not forget you could say we were fortunate to get the win in that first test as there was some pretty average kicking from the Wallabies, but more worrying was that the midfield did not really give us any penetration. Whether or not that was in some way down to the execution of game plan we don't know but I would hope that is not the case. I would rather us go out to win the game by using the many talented players scoring tries than to constantly look for field position and rely on the talents of the kicker.
That sort of negative play dogged the English game for years.
5 Months, 2 Weeks ago
I agree with most with the selection of Tualagi. Whoever posted that he is a one trick pony (ie crash ball) is either not a fan of his or has not watched a large portion of his games at club or international level. Yes he is generally used on the crash ball but has very good hands. Not only that his presence (much like that of Roberts) attracts defenders into him as rarely will he be stopped in his tracks one on one and seems to always get things going forward/break the gain line. Both he and the legend that is Odriscoll linked well in the early mid weeks games so that to is a plus. If you were to look at it apart from the offload game both he and Roberts are used in similar game plans and would Roberts have been fit I would imagine he would have been in?
Youngs over Phillips? to me that one needed to be done. Phillips early part of the tour seemed to have us all thinking he was the automatic choice, but let us not forget all but one of those games the forwards dominated the opposition and almost everything was off the front foot. Phillips has been legendary on previous lions exploits but was not up to much last week. Case in point would be the performance of his opposite Genia who totally out played him off the back of some scrappy set piece ball.
Croft, as has been said has played a lot at second row and as a utility forward is a must for squad selection and I think unlucky to have lost his starting position.
Vunipola was unlucky also not to have been selected last week. He is much more dynamic in open play. As is always the case, we have gone into this series believing the Wallabies have a problem at scrum time and that is where we will damage them? Never really seems to be the case and as happened last week.
Lastly Faletau not starting. That is a complete joke. He is a must and how this has not caused debate is beyond me.
5 Months, 2 Weeks ago