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Saturday Jun 1, 2013

British and Irish Lions start strong with convincing win over the Barbarians

British and Irish Lions start strong with convincing win over the Barbarians
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Mike Phillips and Alex Cuthbert scored twice as the Lions got their 2013 tour off to a strong start, beating the Barbarians 59-8 in hot and humid Hong Kong earlier today. They scored eight tries in total as a star studded Barbarians outfit failed to fire.

Regular waterbreaks had to be empoyed as vicious heat and humidity threatened to affect the rhythm of the match. In many ways it did, but a strong second half by the Lions will have given them a good boost ahead of the trip to Australia.

They face the Western Force on Wednesday, cellar dwellers in Super Rugby but an entirely different proposition to the Barbarians side, who despite all their talent, just didn’t seem up for it.

Not taking anything away from the Lions – they finished well and their patterns of play were starting to take shape, with Phillips, Jamie Roberts and Justin Tipuric in particular standing out.

Captain Paul O’Connell was strong up front, scoring the opening try of the game after 28 minutes, while flyhalf Owen Farrell perhaps didn’t do himself any favours with a fairly mediocre performance.

He was involved in an altercation with Saracens teammate Schalk Brits early on, the South African uncharacteristically lashing out, and lucky to be only yellow carded by referee Steve Walsh.

The ten minutes off didn’t help the Baa-Baas cause, and veteran Joe Rokocoko seemed to be one of the few looking to spark things with ball in hand. He rolled back the years to show regular touches of class, as well as making one outstanding try saving tackle in particular.

In the end it was all about the Lions though, as eight tries later they were emphatic winners, and it was great to see the urgency of those that joined the game from the bench. Test spots are going to be hard to come by in this squad, so every minute on the park counts.

It’ll be interesting to see who Warren Gatland and co select for the Force match, as the powerful Queensland Reds will be waiting just three days later.

What are you initial thoughts on the Lions’ performance?

55 Comments

  • matt
    8:52 PM 04/06/2013

    Fair enough, I don't know much about him, all I meant was that my only memories of him are running in straight, admittedly fast, lines.

    Reply
  • 2:35 PM 03/06/2013

    Yeah, he was scoring in the same way Rococoko does (well when he gets space) by pointing one arm out and diving in. They both play together for Bayonne and Philips did say after the match there was nothing in it and I'm sure Joe would have agreed.

    Reply
  • 2:31 PM 03/06/2013

    he was involved throughout the pitch. Often the first man to be hitting rucks in the midfield - if you watch O'Connel's try Hogg was the one creating space for him to dive over. Great running angles and if it weren't for the conditions he would have bagged a couple of trys. Very impressed with his performance.

    Reply
  • brawnybalboa
    12:11 PM 03/06/2013

    If you watch Cuthberts tries in the six nations the last two years you will see he offers more than just gas running down the wing. Scotland 2012: Runs right through a scottish tackle to score France 2012: Runs untouched through the french line and around the full back Ireland 2013: Hits the line at the inside centre position, runs in untouched Italy 2013: As with Ireland attacks the line from the inside centre position England 2013: (First try) he has to fend off Mike Brown whilst staying infield. Yes as you said he has gas, and scores tries out on the wing, but Gatland likes using him as a ball carrier up the centre (like Roberts & North) due to his size. In the cases where he makes a break he often scores due to his pace. As shown against France he has deceptive agility for a man of his size (presumably due to playing sevens).

    Reply
  • colombes
    12:07 PM 03/06/2013

    Nice victory by Wales Baabaa's concept should be reformed isn't it? And like many, quite amused by the usual personal-branling comment on Farrell "There is absolutely no question about this young mans temperament" and few minutes later, he's involved in a scuffle with his sarrie team-mate Brits

    Reply
  • brawnybalboa
    11:38 AM 03/06/2013

    love the cut in the video. The commentator says "There is absolutely no question about this young mans temperament", next thing we see is him exchanging punches with a front row forward! Classic!

    Reply
  • upthelowend
    11:18 AM 03/06/2013

    Yeah I must admit, the clapping comment came almost a good 10 mins after the Brits incident to my recollection... although I could be wrong

    Reply
  • mattyp
    7:25 AM 03/06/2013

    The first try was from a dummy my mum wouldn't fall for, and the second was just a defensive positioning error from a scratch side resulting in a gap you could drive a truck through and nobody came within metres of him. Yeah, he spotted the gap, but so did I sitting behind the goal posts 100 metres away. Two world class tries? He'll have to do better than that with the Aussie back row covering.

    Reply
  • mattyp
    7:21 AM 03/06/2013

    Mate we play every week in those conditions here in Singapore without the dropsies. And without two water breaks a half. No different to playing in the wet.

    Reply
  • lambo_sh
    12:15 AM 03/06/2013

    Thought it was a decent performance, if one of the reasons people say the Barbarians struggled is because they hardly know each other as player you have to take that into consideration with the Lions too; sure they've had a few weeks together but that's their first game in anger as a team. The pack played very well, bullied them Ba Baas all over the park. Hooker is a worry, not convinced by either Hibbard or Youngs. Best would have been my first choice before he was left out and I'd still have him as the test hooker. Gray and O'Connell both looked good, they'd be my starting 2nd row. Lydiate was quiet but his game is all about spoiling, and the Barbarian's never really offered much to spoil. He didn't have a bad game though. Phillips is a great all round player, but he'll never be a world class 9 in my opinion because his distribution just isn't good enough. He's either too slow, or when he tries to speed things up the quality goes. Farrell didn't have a great game but some of the criticism is a bit OTT. Centres were excellent, although I think Davies is getting a bit more praise than he deserves. He had a good game but Roberts impressed me more, I thought Davies fumbled a few too many passes. Maitland looked like someone trying too hard, I think looking at the squad from when it was announced he was one who you thought would struggle to make the test team and I think he knows it. Cuthbert scores a lot of tries which surprises me as I don't think he's particularly great! Very poor defensively too.

    Reply
  • hedderball
    12:13 AM 03/06/2013

    Hooker? Thank God Best is back in now as an alternative to those mentioned instead of that langer Hartley

    Reply
  • hedderball
    12:11 AM 03/06/2013

    if one of the FHs gets injured they'll call up Wilko. Personally wouldn't mind them calling up Madigan as he offers something different from most of the NH fly halves. Maybe a bit of a sentimental pick as fully aware of his limitations in terms of controlling a match and inexperience etc...

    Reply
  • pipo
    12:06 AM 03/06/2013

    Farrell's reaction wasn't that bad considering he had gotten punched. It could be argued that he deserved a yellow too, but in any case: being combative is ok but ridiculous and derisive celebrations (clapping and smiling) at the opposition getting a yellow EVEN if you were involved in the action leading to it just lowers my opinion of him. A lot.

    Reply
  • pipo
    11:52 PM 02/06/2013

    Oh, and, as far as I can remember, Farrell's clapping was shown immediately after Brits got the yellow and not "later on". Maybe we were watching different feeds.

    Reply
  • pipo
    11:47 PM 02/06/2013

    You've got anything to back that up? Commentators do make mistakes but unless you can show me a clip/link that proves them so, Farrell did clap and smile like a jerk to me and, I guess, most viewers of the match. (Haven't heard of anyone saying the commentators were wrong post-match either.)

    Reply
  • danknapp
    11:29 PM 02/06/2013

    I think Youngs and Sexton would be an exciting combination. Hopefully they'll start together on Wednesday.

    Reply
  • danknapp
    11:27 PM 02/06/2013

    I'm English, and I was surprised at his inclusion, but I actually don't think we have as much depth at 10 as elsewhere. Farrell is OK (for an international) but he's no Wilkinson. Sexton has him beaten hands down, in my book. I also think that the way Sexton plays for his club is more exciting to watch than Farrell in the Saracens structure. Would rather see Sexton start and play really well than Farrell. Having said that, Farrell can really turn on the physicality and his aggravating side (if he gets the right balance) can work in his favour. I'd like to see him develop into a fuller 10, but I don't think that'll happen at Saracens. He's not learning to play with enough flair or flow to his game. Can't blame him for that. I'd like to see someone like Ford come through the system and replace him in a year or two, but we'll have to see.

    Reply
  • upthelowend
    9:53 PM 02/06/2013

    Not sure i'd include Farrell's single-mindedness as one of his strengths.

    Reply
  • matt
    9:45 PM 02/06/2013

    Yachvilli had plenty of ball, he just had an absolute shocker. I agree PoC looked every bit the captain, I thought they should have made him it from the start and then encouraged the English and Welsh contingents to rally around the Irish

    Reply
  • matt
    9:43 PM 02/06/2013

    I thought Hibbard played okay. I liked his ball carrying and work rate. Also, the baabaas had Samu Manoa in at 6, who is far from a finished article and made PoC's try too easy, but he is very disruptive to an oppos carrying game because of his defensive work. As far as I'm aware the Aussies don't have a 6 like that.

    Reply
  • matt
    9:37 PM 02/06/2013

    I think that clapping replay was wrongly attributed to the Britz incident, I'm pretty sure it was from later on.

    Reply
  • matt
    9:32 PM 02/06/2013

    Personally I don't rate cuthbert much at all. He seems to have decent gas, but doesn't offer anything else. Maybe he'll make me look silly this tour, but I can't think of him ever doing anything that didnt involve running straight down his wing as fast as he can.

    Reply
  • matt
    9:30 PM 02/06/2013

    I thought Vunipola had a pretty good game, I'd like to see him get a run at the ausies.

    Reply
  • matt
    9:27 PM 02/06/2013

    I could well be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the clip of him clapping was from a different point in the game and when it was showed later on it was wrongly linked by the commentators to the Britz incident. I'm fairly certain that when it happened farell was miles off minding his own business again.

    Reply
  • 8:28 PM 02/06/2013

    In a non test match? Sure why not. Went threw what 9 pairs of hands, involved a grubber... Would have been a stunner. Farrell looked out of his depth with the ball in hand. He can do well if counted on to just give it to Roberts and kick high balls. but the ozzies will focus on shutting down his options and forcing him to beat them. Sexton offers much more with the ball in hand. I'll get a lot of guff here, but I feel the same way about Phillips. He is a great rugby player, when he's on, one of the top players in the world, I'm not kidding. He carries incredibly well, holds the ball in two hands and takes the option, defends like a backrow, in a menace in the loose, I can't imagine how dominate he'd be in 7's... but he doesn't distribute well. If you plan for his game, tight and abrasive, I think you can shut him down. Both Youngs and Murray will do more to get their teammates involved. On form, Phillips will start, but don't be surprised to see the ozzies have a plan for him. Gray was all over the field, but he gets away with being off his feet far too much at the offensive ruck. Tipuric was the MOM in my opinion, warbs should be concerned. Lydiate was quiet, not his kinda game, too offensive. BOD must be nervous with Davies performance, who I thought was better than Roberts, who was also good. He's a real allrounder. Maitland looked out of sorts, he must play well in the future. Cuthbert looked strong, did what he had too. POC was strong, a test contender. Jones did well too, lock and centres the most fierce battles for tests spots. Jones was great. No hooker impressed. Best has a shot Vunapola was very good, should make the other loosies nervous. Stevens was out of his depth. Faletau was good, so was heaslip, both in the test team. heaslip better bring it next game. This is gonna be great!

    Reply
  • drg
    5:34 PM 02/06/2013

    Dave having the video to now look at its easier to comment on the "punch". You say Brits was a loser for turning away... I disagree, he was trying to get on with the game, swats away a petulant cheating child and gets back to defending the fringes of the ruck. Sure players hold on all the time, it's something that drives me INSANE as it is RARELY picked up by the referee!!! So the reaction from Brits is something I can understand. The reason he didn't "front up" was because there was a game to be getting on with.

    Reply
  • loubo
    2:21 PM 02/06/2013

    "One of the greatest tries in Lions history"?! I'm not sure about that!

    Reply
  • pipo
    1:52 PM 02/06/2013

    What really baffles me of Owen Farrel's conduct in the game, regardless of whatever positive or negative thing that can be said about his performance (spilled balls, failed over the head pass in possible try scoring opportunity, kicking), is: his childish (can only describe it like this without feeling it might become offensive) reaction after learning of Brit's yellow. Clapping and smiling like if ... I don't know what, he had enjoyed the swinging arm to the head? or is just an immature person unfit for rugby? or whatever. If I know rugby and ruggers like I think I do, then ppl will agree.

    Reply
  • drg
    1:38 PM 02/06/2013

    @Dave, I agree O'Connor is definitely a Bieber. However Owen baby faced Farrell does sport somewhat a Bieber-esque haircut... maybe Farrell can be labelled a cousin or something.. with O'Connor coming up as a brother?!?!? I never said the guy was a bad player, I just don't rate him as ready for the Lions thats all. I base that on his petulant attitude and; of late, his shaky form..

    Reply
  • drg
    1:32 PM 02/06/2013

    I really rate Philips as a 9 to be honest. I think he gets a huge amount of flack due to the fact he is not an average sized 9... therefore the cheeky shit they often get away with, which we all laugh about and say "it's lucky that git's a scrum half" is often hard to swallow when it comes from someone Philips size... That being said, from what I have heard he is a bit selfish in "real life"..

    Reply
  • drg
    1:29 PM 02/06/2013

    I lived in HK for 13 years and played 7's and 15's for 10 of those years... Now who is fickle...?

    Reply
  • owen
    1:27 PM 02/06/2013

    Apparently he was joking with his team mate joe rococoko

    Reply
  • danknapp
    1:15 PM 02/06/2013

    Ha, that's me told.

    Reply
  • foxtrot
    11:21 AM 02/06/2013

    Its Schalk Brits.

    Reply
  • danknapp
    8:46 AM 02/06/2013

    I didn't think much of Vunipola at the time. From the comments here maybe I missed stuff. I didn't think he was bad, just meh. Farrell was much the same. I am English, before that is taken to be the reason for my comments :)

    Reply
  • danknapp
    8:44 AM 02/06/2013

    Seriously? It was replayed a dozen times!

    Reply
  • 6:44 AM 02/06/2013

    Thanks mate. Can sOmeone explain to me how Phillips gesture on his second try is any different than armitages? He's clearly mocking the defender. Never liked this guy. Good player, better rugby player than 9, think he's a lil ltd in skill, just seems like a real arrogant prick

    Reply
  • pipo
    4:05 AM 02/06/2013

    Farrel didn't have such a good game IMHO. But in any case, regardless of the almost-certain-try that wasn't to be after his pass, or the number of balls he spilled (I think Philips provided good ball but the heat and humidity have also to be taken into account, plus many other players spilled balls), what I want to point at is the following. Not only he was holding Schalk Brits illegally (a minor thing) and reacted to the punch/stiff arm in a way that, could be argued, also deserved a yellow card, but -WHAT REALLY LOWERS MY OPINION OF HIM: is how he clapped in what seemed mocking or derisive way when Brits got a yellow. He looked like a child, and not any child, but a spoiled, presumptuous, mean child. Had I done something like that while playing rugby in my earlier days, my coach would have yelled at me quite a lot (if not taken me off the field) and RIGHTLY so.

    Reply
  • facepalm
    2:27 AM 02/06/2013

    You understand this is a rugby forum , right? Calling other people fickle sort of defeats the purpose of having a discussion. Who are you to say you're better?

    Reply
  • facepalm
    2:17 AM 02/06/2013

    Ford isn't better than Farrell. Not yet anyway.

    Reply
  • facepalm
    2:11 AM 02/06/2013

    I must've missed schalk burger's punch.

    Reply
  • brawnybalboa
    2:04 AM 02/06/2013

    I couldn't help but feel like this was just a glorified training session for the Lions. The conditions were horrific, and the BaaBaas were sadly uncompetitive (no point having Laulala, Rokocoko, Nygwenya, Parisse, Yachvili & Harinordoquy if they don't get any ball!). The Welsh boys looked great, Farrell & Maitland looked very average (to be polite), and O'Connell looked every bit like he should be the tour captain. But then again, the conditions were very difficult. Fortunately we have a few games ahead of us to cast our eyes on the squad before the tests to get some proper assessments on players.

    Reply
  • loubo
    2:02 AM 02/06/2013

    Not sure I agree that Cuthbert is "very average" if he is a "great finisher", certainly makes him well above average if he can finish well. Knows where to be, runs hard and reads the game well, a shoe-in for a test place at this point in time based on Six Nations form. Look forward to seeing North get a start along with Tommy Bowe.

    Reply
  • loubo
    1:34 AM 02/06/2013

    Hear hear, its as if you're all expecting textbook performances across the board, from day one. It's a 'tour', with a number of games in the lead up to a Test series which is the whole reason for going there. Basic skills will not be a worry based on today's performance as the conditions were like nothing the majority, if not all the players, involved in the match day squad had experienced before. Don't underestimate the conditions they played in, nor the time it will take to get the systems spot on. There will be moments of brilliance to come, from a world class squad, but you can't expect it all to happen in the first 80 minutes of rugby. Especially considering Gatland tried to cap as many of the new Lions as possible (17 if I remember correctly). Playing a bit-part invitational side wouldn't have provided top class, structured opposition either, unfair to judge lapses in basic skills and attempts at going for the 50/50 options. Don't jump on the pessimistic band-wagon just yet.

    Reply
  • drg
    11:57 PM 01/06/2013

    I don't rate him as a Lion that's all... He's going to be good/great one day, perhaps he already is in the NH, but for me he is no Lion, or not the standard I've grown to expect from a Lion...

    Reply
  • terminan
    10:40 PM 01/06/2013

    let's get one thing straight - Farrell was incredibly, mind-bogglingly poor. Wayward kicking from hand, lousy passing, in ability to catch the ball all topped off by quite astonishingly slow pace for a 21 year old rendering him unable to run in a try from 10 yards out with no one in sight. Then a ridiculous pass. If Sexton gets injured we are in real trouble.

    Reply
  • besthookerintown
    9:05 PM 01/06/2013

    Farrell looked way to out of his depth, he butchered one try by getting to fancy and trying to flick it over his head. I'm surprised he was subbed off earlier. That was a very strong Lions team put out there today, would like to see what the next team will look like. Hogg really put up his hand today and got a full days rugby. That's going to stand to him in the next couple of matches due to the fact that Kearney and Halfpenny will probably share time on the pitch now! Pack were good, maybe a tweaking in the front row. Subs were also very good. All round good display!

    Reply
  • 7:55 PM 01/06/2013

    Not sure where all the Farrell hate is coming from. Generally had a good game kicking from the tee, and apart from one cross field kick that went directly into BaaBaa hands had good open field kicks. Some of his passes didn't go to hand but everyone on the pitch had that problem given how sweaty their hands were and the ball was (Phillips wasn't giving him much to work with either). As has been said before, he was the one doing the dirty work as the team ironed out the kinks, got used to each other's speed, got over the jitters, etc. He laid the platform, and got the result. I honestly think he get far more stink than he deserves. And if anyone thinks they'd behave like Ghandi if they were punched so maliciously, they're out of their minds. Sure Farrell was holding on to Brits, but during a nothing ruck. Besides, who doesn't do that?

    Reply
  • danknapp
    7:27 PM 01/06/2013

    Also, I don't think it's fair to call Phillips too selfish - he saw space and ran in two good tries. Players need to stand up and back themselves, that's the only way to make the starting XV. I hate Phillips three and a half years at a time, but he was good today.

    Reply
  • 7:27 PM 01/06/2013

    Highlights/ full match please! Trouble getting lions games in Canada! Until such time I will reserve all judgment other than I don't like Farrell and its interesting that brits went at him

    Reply
  • danknapp
    7:25 PM 01/06/2013

    Echoing what Bunn said. Hogg was all over the pitch, making himself a nuisance and was involved in a lot of play. There were a lot of passes which didn't quite come off, and he was involved in many of them. I don't think he was to blame, the conditions must have been appalling, and the understanding wasn't there, but I think he looked great in a team going forwards (which Scotland often aren't).

    Reply
  • wslark1
    7:08 PM 01/06/2013

    I think the chemistry will improve over time yes, but Vinupola was a standout performer today and should be in serious contention for a starting place.

    Reply
  • bunn
    6:55 PM 01/06/2013

    Hogg was in the right place at the right time on a few occasions and only poor passes let the Lions down, he looked predatory basically. Otherwise he was pretty solid

    Reply
  • danknapp
    5:56 PM 01/06/2013

    Decent showing. They weren't clicking, as you'd expect at this early stage, but looked promising. I thought Hogg and Phillips were excellent. I don't think any of the Englishmen stood out, they looked quite uninspiring. Interesting to see Brits trying to get into Farrell's head early in the game - does he know something about Farrell? Farrell certainly seemed slightly out of his depth, but I'll watch his tour with interest. I thought Richie Gray looked decent, hope to see him getting into his stride as soon as possible. Lastly, I kept wondering who the centre was - realised that I only recognise Davies by his stupid scrum cap. He should play without it more! I thought he played really well. Very promising start all around. Hope to see some more of these combinations clicking early on. Bring on Wednesday!

    Reply
  • drg
    5:51 PM 01/06/2013

    Was that really Owen Farrell playing or was it Justin Bieber? Dare I say Bieber would probably have had a better game...

    Reply


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