Wednesday Jun 7, 2017

British and Irish Lions outclassed as silky Blues inflict first tour defeat

British and Irish Lions outclassed as silky Blues inflict first tour defeat
12
Comments

After a sluggish start to their tour in New Zealand, only narrowly beating the underdog New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday, the British and Irish Lions slumped to their first defeat as they were undone by the Auckland Blues at Eden Park.

The Blues, fielding a fantastic array of talent such as Augustine Pulu and Sonny Bill Williams, proved a threat throughout the game and caused the Lions more than a few headaches early on as they took the lead through a splendid Rieko Ioane try.

The visitors responded with a well-constructed try of their own; CJ Stander touching down after a driving maul five metres out proved too difficult for the home side to defend.

Both sides traded a penalty each but a stroke of luck helped the Blues to lead 12-10 at half-time, as Williams latched onto a loose ball which ricocheted off the posts.

Leigh Halfpenny’s boot kept the Lions in touch and eventually helped them take the lead with 10 minutes to go, but a misguided up-and-under gifted possession back to the Blues who made the Lions pay dearly.

Ihaia West’s try will likely go down alongside John Bentley’s wonder score against the Gauteng Lions in 1997 as one of the most sensational in Lions tour history.

Started by a magnificent offload from back-row Steven Luatua to Williams, the Lions were already on the back foot. Williams then served up one of his offloading specials to the on-rushing West who slewed in and out of would-be Lions defender to streak under the posts.

The damage was near fatal to the Lions’ chances of victory. The final blow was an overthrow from Rory Best five metres from the Blues line with time nearly up as they went in search of the winning try.

It hasn’t been the best of starts for the Lions on tour but not many can begrudge the Blues of a deserved win. A tough tour just got even tougher.

12 Comments

  •  im1
    im1

    Saving all their tries for the test matches probably..... Hopefully having the best 9 and 10 starting this weekend will give those outside a little more of a chance to score.

    Reply
  •  oldflyhalf
    oldflyhalf

    Wow, 2 games, 2 trys for the Lions. AB's are in deep shit.? :)

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I'm sort of wondering if the entirety of this tour is currently being made up of players who think they are individual superstars who are able to produce something from nothing, so they're "proving" that is the case... I don't know as I missed the game, but I hear a lot of stories of people making odd individual choices. Apparently Hogg on the weekend was forcing things... Perhaps someone can shed some light on this?

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Also a bit suprised he is the person covering the posts on a penalty kick. If the balls comes back fo the posts, which a team has to have a set up for (otherwise what is the point in being professionals) you want your tallest guys there to mop up i.e lawes or itoje woudl have had a chance at catching the ball rather than just batting it back. Also at 0.55, there is no one in the area where the ball bounces. Surely that is the most dangerous and potentially most likely area for the ball to fall if it hits the post. So why is no one there. That is just poor coaching, preparation or decision making on the day from the players.

    Reply
  •  fitz
    fitz

    Re Nowell, exactly right. He didn't have his best game, but was left exposed by inside defensive failings and good attacking play from the Blues. Ioane is one heck of a player as well!

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    I'm not saying Nowell is not at fault at all for the first try, but Haskall makes a massive error by rushing up and taking himself out the game. If Nowell had hung back, then the Blues could have just stuck it through the hands and still scored. The last try is a fantastic try. Itoje is at fault for taking the dummy from Luatua, but it is top notch dummy, line by SBW and offload. So although, Itoje left the hole for SBW to go through, it was an exteremly high level of skill from the Blues. The finish though leaves a lot to be desired by the Lions defence and desire. At 2.50 there are 9 Lions near the ball and only 1 Blue behind SBW. So he only had one option. But Sexton and CJ let him run through the middle of them. And Halfpenny, gets no where near, despite having time to position him self correctly.

    Reply
  •  breakaway
    breakaway

    "Defo a knock on for the SBW try" The video clearly shows Nowell batting the ball back with both hands. The video does not clearly show any Blues player touching the ball. The TMO was correct. A legitimate and well taken try.

    Reply

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  • Agree with most of that. I thought Webb was good except for the useless and aimless kicking. It must be a team tactic, but at least find touch or make them contestable as otherwise it just gives the other team the ball and 30m of space to run into. Sexton was more of the same when he came on.

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    Broken play off the cuff stuff from the Blues was miles ahead of the Lions. Defo a knock on for the SBW try but fair point on CJS try above too... crusaders might maul the lions actually...will take 42 lads a long time to gel

    Reply
  •  moo
    moo

    Oh, and thank god there is a proper 7 on tour. Tips played ok.

    Reply
  •  moo
    moo

    Right result (I was disappointed this morning). Lions not accurate enough again. For the first try, either defensive patterns are too narrow or Nowell hasn't learned his role properly / made a bad read. Farrell will have to earn his crust in the next few days whatever it was. Dodgy mauling missed by ref for Stander try (happens at most mauls, to be fair) - at least 3 players slotted in ahead of the ball (locks and Haskell). So that cancels out what I thought was a knock-on for SBW try. Press waxing lyrical about SBW offload for last try. Was very nice, but I thought Luatua's was better, as he was under more pressure and the room for error was minimal. Nice gas from FB to finish. High points: overall performance improvement - hooray for that; McGrath - good shift from the lad & nice set piece; Webb - played well overall, barring a couple of iffy moments; Lawes - seems to have survived sitting next to Haskell on the plane and a decent showing; scrum - solid platform - just need to use it with better decisions. Low points: penalties - the Marler crawling at the end summed this up nicely, as it was dopey, obvious and stopped some good momentum; defence, especially out wide as above - didn't look confident and was cut to ribbons on occasion; vision in attack / accuracy - giving up overlaps & taking wrong options - not knocking the ambition to run it though; lineout - given how much practice these pros get, why can't they nail every throw (???); Sexton - we know he's decent, but how many chances before he clicks - he'll probably have to play again at the weekend, as Biggar failed HIA - that's three games in just over a week for an injury-prone player... I'm hoping this is a springboard and a kick up the arse for the rest of the games, as these guys aren't adding up to the sum of their parts yet. They have potential, but aren't even as good as the individual national teams... yet. Come on lads, show us what you can do!

    Reply
  •  hoot
    hoot

    Looks like a close match, 70 mins in and Lions leading. But ss a Lions fan I have to love that last try. Even in slow motion West was rapid! So in evaluating the outcome of the match, you have the cohesiveness of the Blues on the one hand against the higher test experience (and perhaps supposedly calibre of player) within the Lions. To what extent does team cohesiveness trump individual player experience and quality? And if it's a lot, doesn't that basically function as an excuse for almost every Lions loss ever?

    Reply

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British and Irish Lions outclassed as silky Blues inflict first tour defeat | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos