Sunday Jun 11, 2017 LIONS WATCH: Conor Murray in driving spot for No 9 shirt

LIONS WATCH: Conor Murray in driving spot for No 9 shirt
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Comments

Owen Farrell was voted man of the match by the Sky Sports poll after his flawless kicking display against the Crusaders on Saturday, but his half back partner, Conor Murray deserves recognition for his all-round performance.

This was Murray’s first match of the tour and his impressive kicking range stopped the Crusaders from playing their reliable structure which has made them so impressive this season.

Murray’s box kick accuracy made it easy for the Lions to clear effectively from inside their own 22-metre line and pin back the Crusaders when the Lions were on the front foot.

As well as controlling the tempo of the match with his kicking game, Murray made nine tackles which is more than any of the Lions starting backline, and he was also the only member of the same backline to produce a successful offload.

Murray outplayed his opposite number Bryn Hall in relation to the number of passes, tackles, carries, and meters made.

It could be argued, therefore that Lions coach Warren Gatland has already chosen his half back combination of Murray and Farrell, especially given the fact that Rhys Webb will partner up with fellow Welshman Dan Biggar against the Highlanders on Tuesday.

This suggests that Gatland has segregated the squad into two combinations, and it would be fair to assume that the backline that triumphed against the Crusaders will be the test line-up.

So despite Murray not earning a spot on the bench in the next match against the Highlanders, the Munster man is in prime spot to earn his third test match shirt.

30 Comments

  •  drg
    drg

    But I think Sexton is reaching a different level.. Farrell to me is massive in defence (not a fan of him btw), and gets up without much of a thought, looking for more carrying on... Sexton seems lesser in defence and seems like a it takes his all to make his tackles, and gets up looking like he's just done a round with Tyson...

    Reply
  •  reality
    reality

    I don't think Sexton is lacking in defence though. Ok, Farrell is the best defensive 10 around, but I'd never say Sexton is weak in defence. His continuous concussions are evidence of the fact that he doesn't shy away from his defensive duties, and even his reading in defence is normally spot on. I think Teo would be a bad idea. He's big, yeah, but how much experience does he have at test level? Personally, I think the All Blacks would run rings around him. When you have a new centre partnership it's always a bit iffy, but when you add to that the fact that half of your partnership has barely ever played at centre at test level...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Seems like every option is a compromise... I'm not sure on Sextons strength in defence will be good enough for him to hold his own, or if it is I think he'll be targeted by the AB's which will either injure him or wear him down... But I'm not sure Teo who may be strong in defence will have the experience to handle the AB's....

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    if Sexton is at 10 though, Farrell will be at 12 so the 10 channel is more viable for Barrett. I thinking matching Farrell up directly with Barrett will challnge Barrett he most. Teo could get caught out, but really all of our options could be caught out. If Gatland did go for Sexton and Farrell, I wouldn't be saying, I told you so, if it all went wrong as I am not convinced it would be a bad option, but then I think Teo (or Henshaw) has to be at 13, which gives me a worry about the outside break being a bit of an easy option as Teo is more likely to be ran round the outside.

    Reply
  •  mise
    mise

    so that's a consensus on Murray then.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    I feel like in super rugby they are a lot looser in applying the laws of the game in favour of free flowing rugby, particularly at the scrum and with forward passes.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    Courtney Lawes is never late, nor is early, he arrives precisely when he means to.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    I don't think there is anyone that would beat Barrett for speed. I think Farrell has the ability with ball in hand to trouble Barrett, either by just running over him or putting his runners in through the holes he creates. OF is one of the best defensive 10s around, and I think he could easily make Barrett think twice before coming down his channel. When I made the point about Te'o's inexperience, I was referring more to him being caught out defensively by seasoned test international rather than the pressure getting to him. If we sent Te'o down Barrett's channel I think they would try and limit that by protecting Barrett with Kaino and/or Ardie Savea. They don't want their fly-half tackling the most powerful back in the Lions XV.

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    I shouldn't have brought politics into this... Players have the wrong attitude. The coaches admitted defeat the day they announced the squad. Negative rugby can grind out a win against 99% of teams, New Zealand live in the 1% that will still tear you apart no matter what you throw at them.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    At least the Corbynistas didn't get into power...Rugby would probably be banned for being too 'elite'... Who hid my safe space?!?!

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    How dare you! You know damn well my full title is Lord Snob...

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    The tours are arranged based on money. I'm not criticising that, because the money is needed, but that's the truth

    Reply
  •  craptanker
    craptanker

    That game was boring.

    Reply
  •  10stonenumber10
    10stonenumber10

    I have been (unfortunately) harping on about this since I started commenting on here way back in 2007 Boring ugly rugby wins games. Only NZ can play like NZ. Only Fiji can play like Fiji. Like the old SA system, sometimes the only way to win is to beat the f*ck out of your opponent. It goes against everything I stand for as a rugby player. Gaps are there to be split wide open. The outside is there to be roasted. Once every 4 years, the home nations combine to create the equivalent of a 5 day test cricket team. We all hope for the Second Coming of King Carlos. Many thought I was him, but like the crazy dude at Piccadilly Circus with the megaphone, I am but a false prophet amongst many other pretenders. The reality is... we don't have ballplayers. 60m touch finders, 80%+ kicking, and stable 8-9-10 service are the dish of the day. Liam Williams is the biggest threat in the back line , I may have called him a crap Mike Brown, but Mike Brown's rage alone would have turned that half chance into 7. Much like this country with the Tories and DUP at the helm... we're up a certain creek.

    Reply
  • Snob

    Reply
  • BB wants nothing to do with being tackled by Farrell. I'm no big fan but dude is a big tackler. He stuffed picamoles and I've never seen anyone do that.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    What are these rules you speak of..... I am only aware of the number 1 rule which is rugby has laws :p

    Reply
  •  vladimir
    vladimir

    Don't worry. In attack, Sexton passes to Henshaw who crashes into Barrett. In defense, Lawes will look after him with a slightly lat... well-timed tackle.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Would be a real shame if they actually applied the laws..... Seriously though, if we decided to not apply the scrum laws (assume these are the ones you are talking about) then Mako would shed stone or two and be absolutely unbelievable in the loose. If the SH want to misintepret the rules so they get a more free flowing, try scoring game, than that's fine, but when they play internationally, they can't complain about the rules being inforced correctly i.e. as they are written

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    Neither of the two are going to bother him in terms of size, speed or skill, either in defence or attack. In defence he knows that the only big ball carries he is going to get down his channel is from the forwards in side he know he won't get burnt by someone with gas like cipriani, or walked past by someone with the skill/sleight of hand like Ford. Not saying either of those two should be involved, but they do have those skills. Sexton in his prime could do that, but it is evident he isn't quite there (yet). So Barretts defensive set up is pretty easy in this situation, so one thing he doesnt really have to worry about. In attack, he knows he has two guys in front of who are hard men, but not monsters who will eat anyone up going down their channel. So he also knows he has them for pace (although he would have any of our potential combinations for pace). Therefore in attack I think he can play a relatively straightforward game to his own stregths. He would do this regardless of who we send in at 10/12 but I would like to see him run the wrong way into a big lump like Teo If you play Teo at 13 then i think 10/12 of Sexton Farrell could word, but then you are forgoing a bit of gas at 13 and really relying on the back 3 to provide the spark required to beat NZ. I don't think he would like to see Farrell and Teo at 10/12. I get your point on Teo being inexperieced at test match rugby union, but he has serious experience in big pressure environments in NRL and State of Origin. And he looks to be improving. When Barrett looks up at those two, he sees two guys who are bigger than him, one with a creative threat and one with an offload and power threat, so i think he will have to think a bit more about how he lines up defensively and he knows he will be challenged more when he attacks Just my opinion though so a decent chance that Barrett is thinking the complete opposite. He probably knows a little bit more than me about playing fly half in test match

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    Out of interest, why do you think that? Is there a 10/12 combo you think he would be less happy with?

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    Yeah, I think so. They must be so hard to get right, you don't know who will be a good tourist, which partnerships will gel, who gets injured or suspended etc. Bringing together a group of players who for the most part won't have played with each other, travelling to the other side of the world and trying to turn them into a team that can beat the ABs in a few weeks is a hell of a challenge. I don't know how the tours get arranged but I would definitely have wanted to have the entire squad together for at least a week prior to the first game.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    A flawless 4/5 kicking display from Farrell...... It would have been very interesitng to see exactly the same game played out in good conditions. Although genreal thinking would say that the Crusaders would not have made as many mistakes and would have scored tries, I think the Lions attack would have fair much better as well.

    Reply
  •  im1
    im1

    I think Barrett would be very happy with a sexton farrell 10/12 combo.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    You reckon the Lions will get that lucky? I was feeling it would come down to how 'unplayed' the AB's are on the first test and then how merciful they decide to be on test 2+3....

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Fair assessment, Lions tours are always an interesting experiment.... Also...I reckon the Lions fans would probably appreciate you forwarding that onto Gatland...

    Reply
  • I've got a horrible feeling the series could come down to who refs and their interpretations - NH vs SH view of rules.

    Reply
  •  dancarter
    dancarter

    I think it's a reasonable option, and I am struggling to think of a better one. The only alternative I can think of is a Farrell-Henshaw 10-12 axis. If Farrell is at 12 then I think JJ has to be the 13, they have had a good partnership in the centres for England. I like Te'o but I think his inexperience at test match level makes it a big risk to start him. I think Farrell at 12 gives the Lions the best opportunity at closing down SBW, stopping him offloading and getting over the gain line. I don't think we will beat the ABs by trying to run it from our own 22. The Sexton-Farrell partnership reminds me of the Wilkinson-Catt axis that England used. Both JS and OF can take the ball flat and either make breaks or put other players in through gaps, but they are both good kickers out of hand and can pin the ABs deep in their own half too. The Crusaders game suggests we may have the edge in the front 5, although Retallick and Coles (if fit) were absent. I'd have no problem if we played a set piece oriented game and just ground the ABs down. We can take a few reset scrums, maybe a few penalties. We have 2 world class goal kickers in the line up so we should convert those into points, and Daly/Hogg/Halfpenny have absolute howitzers for a boot so we can punish any penalty inside their half. Let Barrett get a bit frustrated at the lack of ball, which he's not used to, and maybe he tries to do too much with what ball he has and we force a mistake. We can use Murray, Sexton and Farrell's kicking combined with a good kick chase to turn the screw. I think we have the starters and subs to beat them up front for 80 mins. Vunipola, McGrath, George, Owens/Best, Furlong and Cole is a formidable front row with replacements, and Itoje and Kruis at second row with Lawes on the bench gives us every chance at competing at the lineout. (Sorry, this was a longer reply than I anticipated).

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Oh, out of interest, what does everyone reckon about Sexton 10, Farrell 12? I don't really know what to make of it, I mean I know England have had Ford 10, Farrell 12, but whilst I reckon it's a good attacking combination, I'm not sure whether it will stand a chance against the kiwis...well... with Sexton in rather than Ford.... Maybe Farrell is good enough in defence, but he's not a big unit like some of the other options around, so it strikes me as a strong attacking platform, but I'm not convinced the AB's are the sort of team that you can attack as comfortably as other teams. I almost have visions of american football whereby you'd bring on a 10-12 combo when attacking, but when defending you'd swap someone else in... I don't know who the kiwis will field in the midfield, but I can imagine that SBW may have a potential look in at 13, and he is a somewhat larger unit than Farrell, but I think it'd be foolish to assume that his 12 won't be any more than a typical All Black...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    ....Good work Murray, even managed to smash one of the best 15's in the game... *rolls eyes*

    Reply

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LIONS WATCH: Conor Murray in driving spot for No 9 shirt | RugbyDump