I recently tried to quit smoking. Hindsight has shown me that this was a critical error in judgement because it’s the middle of the Lions Tour. Why did I take on a task with such short sighted ambition? Could I have tried harder? These are probably the same questions the Lions players and Coaches will be asking themselves after today’s narrow loss to the Wallabies.
If you look back at the stats from the game right now and knew nothing of the Lions and their potential you could say confidently that their game plan was to give the ball back to the Wallabies and let them run at them constantly. Failing that, the Lions should pass the ball as little as possible and not bother off-loading. At this point I don’t know if I’m being too critical of the Lions or not praising the Wallabies enough.
The Lions defensive effort was great in fairness but it’s not as if the Lions are incapable of attack. Contrary to my opinion the most metres made were by Johnny Sexton, 41. Heaslip carried most from the back row with 16 metres. This was matched by his replacement O’Brien. However, Heaslip also conceded 2 turnovers on the ground, an area he is usually masterful in. From the set piece the loss of Paulie in the Line-out was evident. There seemed to be very little confidence in the set piece even though Youngs was throwing well. I am of the opinion that he should’ve stayed on for the sake of Primary possession, ultimately the Lions literally threw away the win.
When you analyse the pressure the Lions were under you can appreciate the defence efforts of the likes of Vunipola, Parling and BOD, racking up 50 tackles between them. Vunipola also contributed the most turn-over with Captain Sam Warburton, 3 each. But, as was evident during the game, nothing was done with these turn-over’s as possession went almost straight back to the Wallabies.
Contrast all this with an Australian team that looked comfortable on the ball and you see how the Lions lost the game. The Aussies made good decisions while in possession and attacked the open space well. The Aussies carried nearly 3 times what the Lions could manage, with 418 metres gained and 68 individual carries compared to The Lions 24.
It’s a cliché but the Lions will have to dig deep for the next game. The y must realise their offensive potential. If they sit back and let the Australians run at them they will capitulate another loss and the Tour will be deemed a failure. Some may say that the Lions deserve a tour win after so many unfruitful tours, 3 and counting for BOD. Nothing in Rugby is deserved; it is earned and taken by the scruff of the neck. The Lions need to take a collective note from the George North book of attack; take the ball and run hard and drag the other man along if you have to.