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Sunday Jun 11, 2017

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

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.

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