The Lions are three from three on their tour down under so far and other than a couple of unfortunate injuries the squad looks in pretty good shape. The match against the Western Force was more than a little one sided, with the Lions running in no fewer than 9 tries against a scratch side with very little Super Rugby experience. It gave the Lions management to take a look at new combinations and give different players a chance to shine. Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts look set to renew their incredibly successful centre partnership from 2009 and with the pair of them lining up against another makeshift team, the pair of them could run riot. The injury to Ireland winger Tommy Bowe was a big blow, as he looked to be in incredible form before breaking a bone in his hand but he may be able to play a part in the later Test games, which would be ideal for the Lions, as none of the other Lions wings have distinguished themselves, other than the incredibly impressive George North.
Goal-kicking also seems to be an area the Lions have strength, as Leigh Halfpenny hit all eleven kicks he was confronted with, a good number of those being from the touchline. The Wallabies will have to maintain discipline in their own half, or they will start shipping point to the Lions very quickly.
The game against the Queensland Reds was the challenge that the Lions needed at this stage on the tour. They came under immense pressure early in the game, as the Reds seemed to run from anywhere including from behind their own try-line, but they weathered the storm for the most part, minus a brilliant solo try from winger Luke Morahan. The enigmatic Quade Cooper was marshalled well by the Lions midfield, something that will have pleased Warren Gatland and his underlings immensely. Another interesting aspect of the game was the return of tour captain Sam Warburton, who had a reasonable, if unspectacular, first outing, though that isn’t surprising considering he hasn’t played in almost a month.
The Lions’ problem at loosehead doesn’t appear to be particularly awkward if Mako Vunipola continues in such fine form. He’s had a hugely impressive start to the tour, especially since he’s played three games in eight days. The Lions team that beat the Reds There are still issues to work on, as the Lions conceded two tries in both matches against the provincial sides, but it’s far better that these problems become apparent now, rather than in the first Test. It’s still three games until the first match against the Wallabies, but the Lions are in pretty good shape overall both in terms of injuries and how they’re playing, and will hopefully continue this winning form.
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