Was Saturdays performance from the Lions lacking in able minds rather than able bodies? asks new HoR2 contributor The 2nd Row Half…
The golden generation, a team full of excellence, came very close, but in the end just didn't make it (yet) and Australia levelled it up, to head into a winner takes all mouth watering clash this weekend.
We have to give the Wallabies a lot of credit especially considering the amount of injuries they were forced to contend with, both before and during the 1st test.
However, How much of the result can we attribute to one team being smarter than the other?
When Munster won Heineken cups in their heyday, many a commentator often referred to them, as the "most streetwise team". This without doubt was the case, and it was intelligence and craft which aided them In their pursuit of glory.
Without being critical of individual performances there are a few glaring mistakes made on Saturday, which a team like a Munster Heineken Cup team simply wouldn't have made.
We start at the very first lineout,
1 minute gone. Lions LO, call Heaslip at the front, pass back to Hooker who is tackled into touch. A great move when called at the right time, the right time however is not in the first minute when the opposition are fresh, both physically and mentally.
17 mins in and after a 5 man lineout which Sexton is forced to tidy, the lions persist with "round the corner" runners into a forward crowded midfield, for 4 phases without getting near the gain line, eventually it's knocked on and an AUS scrum. Game plans are there for a reason but players needed to look up and realise what's on. The ball back to the touch line was on, restart from a ruck, they were already behind the gain line and couldn't have had a much worse outcome.
3 mins later a neat lineout at the front and Davies hits in midfield, this time the Lions do get over the gain line but a box kick back to the wing, gives away possession and any chance to build momentum.
58 mins and after Connor Murray hacks through a clearance kick, an AUS lineout on their 10 metre line should mean a bit of a break from the constant pressure, but a needless penalty for obstruction at the lineout and it's Australia back on the attack.
All of the above may seem like very little mistakes but they add up. They have an impact on momentum and ultimately on the result. Great teams who win cups and championships generally make less mistakes like these than their opponents.
Will this Saturday come down to a case of not only who scrums, tackles and kicks better? but who in the heat of battle has the intelligence and know-how to be a Lions series winner.
I for one, can't wait to find out.
[added Wed morn] Still coming to terms with the team announcement and the shock of BOD being left out. Although he wasn't at his very best in the last test I find it hard to see how he was worse than his centre partner. Gatland has obviously went for the power game.
The scrum is well strengthened with the return of Corbisero and O'Brien won't be found wanting when it comes to work rate and carrying.
Phillips will be hoping that the forwards are dominant so that he can put up a better showing than the 1st test.
I'm just very hopeful that it doesn't come down to solely a Brains vs Brawn contest because as my piece yesterday showed, the lions aren't winning that battle at the minute.
The 2nd row Half : Rugby Player, Coach and Nerd. From the club house to the National stadium, My take on all things Rugby
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