As Warren Gatland confessed after his side were humbled 14-12 by the ACT Brumbies in Canberra, it is hard to comment on the positives. However, we shall attempt to pick over the meagre bones following the tourists’ first loss of the 2013 Tour.
Toby Faletau had a good game for carries and looked a player transformed when the replacement front row arrived with 25 minutes to play. He showed for the ball all afternoon and has given Gatland something to ponder, although Jamie Heaslip should be favourite to start at No.8. Richie Gray grew in starture as the game went on and looked twice the player once hooker Richie Hibbard replaced Rory Best.
The only players, other than Faletau and the game Rob Kearney, to emerge with much credit in the bank were the replacements. Alex Corbisiero was responsible for some good shunts and Owen Farrell took his two penalties crisply. Hibbard should start against the Wallabies while Gray and Farrell will be on the bench. Vunipola should hold off Corbisiero for the loosehead start.
The ACT Brumbies — well done to Jake White’s team on winning a tough game of rugby from the touring galacticos.
Rory Best proudly became the third Irishman to captain the Lions on this tour but he had a bad day at the office. After one nicely worked lineout throw to Gray at the start his radar malfunctioned. By the time he was eventually replaced his throwing stats hovered just above the 50% mark and he had become a liability.
A losing Lions return for former Wales international Shane Williams. (David Davies/PA Wire)
Before the tour officially started, Stuart Hogg told TheScore.ie that he was kept from kicking duties at his secondary school by a confident hooker. Today, and for the second time on tour, Scotland’s regular fullback was tasked with the goalkicking duties. He hit two from four, with his two misses striking the posts. He was one of three Lions backs at fault for the Brumbies try and kicked poorly out of hand. All of a sudden, Kearney could make it onto the bench for the first Test.
It was always going to be a long shot but Christian Wade is a confident guy and would have fancied his Test chances with a strong outing in Canberra. He looked ill at ease and was often shown wide only to be squeezed for space and dragged over the touchline in possession. It was a tough ask for the young winger as he only made his England debut last weekend and, like Shane Williams and Brad Barritt, was summoned Down Under late.
What do you think? Have any players played their way onto or off the Test team?