THE LIONS TOOK on the leading side in the Super Rugby, the ACT Brumbies, in Canberra and it was the final chance for Test outsiders to force themselves into Warren Gatland’s weekend plans.
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Lions 12-14 Brumbies
9.59 – Welcome along to the Shane Williams International Testimonial… OR Game 6 of the Lions Tour to Hong Kong and Australia.
Hailstones and thunderstorms are in fashion in Canberra and the players, on both sides, are in for a rough night of it.
10.02 – Here are your teams, starting with the B&I Lions:
Lions XV v Brumbies: Rob Kearney; Christian Wade, Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Shane Williams; Stuart Hogg, Ben Youngs; Ryan Grant, Rory Best (c), Matt Stevens; Ian Evans, Richie Gray; Sean O’Brien, Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau.
Replacements: Richie Hibbard, Alex Corbisiero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Simon Zebo.
10.06 – Jamie and the some of the other Lions not on duty get in a quick bit of button bashing before tuning in to support the lads:
(Credit: Jamie Heaslip – Instagram)
10.12 – Here is the Brumbies matchday 23:
ACT Brumbies: Jesse Mogg; Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, Clyde Rathbone; Matt Toomua, Ian Prior; Ruan Smith, Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio; Leon Power, Sam Carter; Scott Fardy, Colby Faingaa, Peter Kimlin (c).
Replacements: Josh Mann-Rea, Jean-Pierre Smith, Chris Cocca, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jordan Smiler, Mark Swanepoel, Robbie Coleman, Zack Holmes.
10.22 – 20 minutes to kick-off so let’s have your predictions for first try-scorer. Ferg Breen called it right against Combined Country XV (Alex Cuthbert touched down) and Richie Kennedy (calling Jonny Sexton) was the prediction legend against Waratahs.
What odds on Shane Williams dotting down first?
10.24 – Here is David Elkin’s take on the game, from Toronto:
Players I don’t have massive expectancy for are: Brad Barritt and Shane Williams, for differing reasons. I can understand the practicality of bringing Shane in, but it doesn’t feel right. He’s playing second tier rugby in Japan. That is not what the Lions are about, in my opinion. It’s a nice story, but not for me. The less said about Brad Barritt, the better. I actually don’t rate his handling and skill level to be international class.”
If you have are following the game in Ireland, Australia or anywhere in between, please send on your comments and thoughts.
Scott Quinnell predicts Sean O’Brien’s best hope for the Test may be getting on the bench. Sky then flash up a stat that shows Dan Lydiate [187 minutes] has played the most of all the flankers on tour.
10.29 – Brumbies captain Ben Mowen is unable to play today as he is in camp with the Wallabies. Here is his take on today’s game:
YouTube credit: ARU TV
10.35 – Shane Williams watch: The wee man has just slipped his red No.11 jersey on and got a hefty slap on the back from fellow Welshman Dan Lydiate.
10.40 – The Brumbies currently lead the Super Rugby standings but, of course, are shorn of a few big boys. Here’s Shane Williams, taking it all in before heading out to play:
(Credit: Sky Sports)
10.41 – Any more try predictions out there? We’ve got O’Brien and Williams so far.
10.41 – KICK-OFF
Rob Kearney pouches the kick-off. Ben Youngs box kicks straight into Mogg’s mitts with Williams chasing.
10.43 – Hailstones have passed. Super lineout. Best finds Gray, way back. Popped back to Murray, who busts the line and finds Wade. Ball spins left and Williams is nearly over but bundled over the touchline by Sio and two other Brumbies.
10.45 – Oh, here we go. Kimlin steals a Best lineout in the middle as the hooker aimed for Gray again. Some towering up and unders. Kearney survives one fierce ruck. Early knock-on from Twelvetrees then Williams spills backwards trying to defend a grubber kick.
10.47 – TRY: Lions 0-5 Brumbies (Kuridrani ’5)
Super pass in the centre by Mogg cuts out four teammates. Hogg drifts in, leaves a two-on-one. Wade gets left by Kuridrani, who then spins Kearney (poor defending) to dive over. Ian Prior with the conversion but he misses.
10.49 – Hogg kicks the restart out on the full and Brumbies get a scrum on halfway. Lions win it though. Kearney badly missed Kuridrani for that try.
10.50 – Don’t think anyone had Kuridrani as first try-scorer but we’ll go double or quits for first Lions tryscorer. Surely they’ll get one?
OH GOD. Captain Best penalised for a crooked lineout throw.
10.53 – Lions scrum is working well with Matt Stevens getting the plaudits. They win another scrum. 12 minutes gone and no scything attacks from the tourists yet.
Mogg kicks out on the full. Best gets another lineout chance outside the Brumbies 22. He finds Evans and a maul rumbles into the red zone. The Brumbies are playing fast and aggressive in defence, shooting men out of the line. It pays off as Wade knocks on. None of the new call-ups covering themselves in glory yet.
10.58 – Leon Power is the second Brumbie to steal a Best lineout. Does the Ulsterman have some fatal flaw/give that the opposition are reading? He has lost two from five so far. Carter is offside and the Lions get a penalty on the halfway line.
10.59 – Lions opt to hit the line. More throwing practice for the captain. Short and to Evans; he gets it. Good platform for an attack. Best, then Tipuric have drives. Brumbies concede another penalty. Hogg to kick…
11.02 – Poor miss from the Scot as he strikes the post from 30 metres out and slightly to the right. Is the two outhalf folly going to cost the Lions?
Best finds the tail of the lineout. Twoin a row now. Faletau is penalised for holding on as Faingaa does well at the breakdown.
11.05 – A great break up the right by the Brumbies but Faingaa fumbles. Jerome Garces allows the move to progress and Tipuric does well at the breakdown. Good defence from Kearney in defence. Making up for his early error.
Best’s throwing stats so far: Won – 4, Lost – 3.
11.11 – Williams targeted with a high box-kick. Speight outjumps the winger but knocks on. Brumbies then penalised for going off their feet. Hogg’s kick up the line gains just 15 metres. Best finds O’Brien near the front of the lineout. Possession kicked away and the home side have the ball again. Kearney tries to spark the game into life with a Garryowen and chase but Kimlin gets to it first.
11.13 – Mogg lines up a 58-metre penalty and has the distance if not the direction. O’Brien was holding his left arm for a while but is OK to continue. Barritt then does well with a strong, low tackle to cut out a Brumbies attack up the left flank.
11.16 – Hogg with another poor kick out of hand. He puts too much on it and Mogg simply has to mark it. He hits the line and Wade, who might take a quickie for the wasps, thinks again and lets Best take the throw. Best’s lineout throw is NOT STRAIGHT. Barnes calls it ‘a rank throw’.
11.19 – Lions are rattled at the lineout here. The throw goes their way but it is anything but clean. Youngs throw back to Twelvetrees is two feet over his head. Lions – O’Brien – the penalised for not releasing at the ruck. 36 minutes gone and Prior says he’ll kick. 44 metres out and just to the left. Pulls it wide and left. Horrible attempt.
11.21 – PEN: Lions 0-8 Brumbies (Mogg ’39)
Another penalty conceded and O’Brien is disgusted. Brumbies’ Carter gets in the Irishman’s face as the rest of the Lions back off. Mogg says he will have a go this time. Nicely struck. Puts some fade on it and it curls over. Like Kieran MacDonald of Mayo, that style of kicking.
11.23 – Final penalty chance before the break as Kimlin goes off his feet at the breakdown. Last chance to avoid a non-scoring half.
11.24 – PEN: Lions 3-8 Brumbies (Hogg ’40)
Over it goes to end the first half. At leasst the Lions have something from that half but there is a serious lack of Lions standing out today. Perhaps they know the Test team already.
11.28 – Here’s David Elkin’s view, “Why didn’t they select a third choice out-half for the tour? Hogg missed that easy penalty but more importantly is kicking the ball away every phase. Granted it’s back-foot ball and he has little going on outside him, but he just isn’t an out-half at this level. Bizarre call to bring him as cover in that position.
“Painful watching Rory Best at the line out. Awful seeing someone completely lacking confidence in a basic facet of his game.”
11.29 – Sean Flanagan, in our comments section below, has backed Zebo for the first Lions try and says the game needs a bit of Cork flair. What do you think?
11.33 – Christian Wade will not be featuring in the Lions team against Australia at the weekend unless he shakes off the jet-lag and does something outrageously special:
Wade is tackled as he tries to break the Brumbies defensive shackles. (David Davies/PA Wire/)
11.37 – KICK-OFF
Guess what? We have a lineout after 30 seconds and Best, with the scrum-cap off, throws it crooked.
11.41 – Wade is tackled around the neck. Kearney progresses a penalty up the line. Best to Gray. Ball lost. They need to get Best off the pitch. Not all his fault but a huge part is down to him. I feel for the guy out there but he’ll need to be replaced.
Next throw, very close to not straight but Gray gets it. Lions the penalised at the breakdown. Upset on the cards unless the bench can make a difference.
11.43 – PEN: Lions 3-11 Brumbies (Mogg ’45)
Lineout won by the Brumbies. They go through phases up the middle. Lions pinged for not rolling away. Straight in front of the posts, 35m out.
11.46 – Up and under but Kearney loses out in the air to Mogg. 48 minutes gone. What Lions is going to step up and make a name for himself. Twelvetrees tries but he is hammered to the turf. Lions still have possession on the Brumbies 10m line.
11.51 – Colb Faingaa suspected of a spear tackle by Garces but the TMO immediately clears him of any trace of guilt. Here we go. Brumbies are well up for this and the scrum backpedals. Faletau secures the ball but the Lions are then turned over at the next ruck. The home crowd in great voice as Mogg pins the Lions in their own half with a clever kick.
No sign of movement on the Lions bench.
11.53 – PEN: Lions 3-14 Brumbies (Mogg ’53)
Ryan Grant penalised for clawing back Sio from a ruck with his arms around the back of his head. Semi-tough kick coming up for Mogg but over it goes from 5m inside the left touchline.
11.55 – PEN: Lions 6-14 Brumbies (Hogg ’56)
Kearney misses a tackle on Matt Toomua but it turns out for the best as O’Brien and Tipuric pin him down. He fails to release and a penalty goes to the Lions. Hogg thumps it high and over. 56 minutes gone.
11.56 – Here comes a quadruple substitution as the whole Lions front row are off. O’Brien is off for Tipuric too.
11.58 – That’s more like it – Corbisiero, Hibbard and Cole combine and the pack heaves the Brumbies back about 10 metres. Penalty awarded. Game on if this goes over…
12.00 – Crap. Off the righthand post. Momentum changer, that was not. Enough messing – here comes Farrell for Hogg. That should be the end of that experiment for the tour.
12.01 – Lydiate on for O’Brien. Apologies for the mix-up. Tipuric still on the field.
12.02 – A defeat in this match would be a major blow before the Test match. Murray and Parling on the pitch now too. Ah yes, here comes an easy penalty. Not rolling away is the offence. With Farrell on, this should be three points.
12.03 – PEN: Lions 9-14 Brumbies (Farrell ’62)
24 metres out. Straight in front. The gap is five points.
12.05 – Williams still on the pitch. Pace of the league must be quicker that the second division in Japan and his usual outings for the Dynaboars. Zebo remains on the bench. 15 mins to go as Hibbard finds his lineout jumper.
ANOTHER high tackle on Wade but he had dipped to go under Rathbone.
12.07 – Breakdown penalty won by the home side and Mogg finds touch in between the Lions 10m line and 22. Lineout stolen by Gray though, who bats the ball down to Hibbard.
12.11 – Zebo on for Williams. 9 mins to go. Penalty awarded to the lines. Yep, Farrell going to go for the sticks. 40m out and to the right of the posts.
12.12 – PEN: Lions 12-14 Brumbies (Farrell ’71)
Bang! Boos from the home fans but, from 46m out (I undersold it), he smacks it over.
12.15 – Great wraparound tackle from Kearney on Mogg. Should be a penalty but Garces says play on as the ball is turned over. Lions attack up the right and Wade’s pressure earns Hibbard a throw-in. Gray claims. The maul is on.
Brumbies win an absolutely crucial penalty five metres from their tryline. No sign of Farrell offering for a drop goal before that. Less than five minutes on the clock.
12.17 – Ooh, nice. Delayed lineout throw. Brumbies penalised. Lions go for the scrum.
12.19 – Goodness. The scrum ball is lost at the heels and turned over. Less than three minutes to go but Muray’s return box-kick is atrocious.
12.20 – Lions not backed off far enough. Less than two on the clock and Brumbies have the scrum.
12.21 – Tipuric rumbles through. Looks to have stolen but he hasn’t. Ref calls turnover ball but it’s false hope. A minute to go…
12.22 – Penalty awarded to the Brumbies. That’s that. Jake White has LEGGED IT down to the touchline. Final scrum coming up.
12.23 – Gatland leaves the coach’s box.
12.23 – Oosthuizen gathers and hooves clear.
Welcome to the Lions Tour Billy Twelvetrees!
12.36 – Gatland’s folly of starting three men in the backline that all had less than 48 of time in the country before today’s game has come back to bite the Lions. Parling is pointing fingers and lecturing in the post-match dressing room. Some dirt-trackers thrown under the wheels by the Brumbies and momentum slowed considerably.
This makes Saturday’s game even more huge, if that was even possible. Two losses in a row could scuttle this tour but that’s the glass half empty approach.
What did you make of that?
12.37 – Many thanks for the company. Stay with us for post-match reactions, opinions and comments.