One thing going into the second test is that we shouldn’t expect the same from the Lions.
I was surprised that they didn’t close out the first test more effectively and it should never have ended so close. In the second half they should have been battering at the weakened and disorganised Aussie mid-field.
Instead a bit of magic from Australia brought them right back into it. In the end they were unlucky not to win. You would normally expect at international level for the kicker to get over at least one of two relatively easy kicks.
Goal kicking is a key factor for Australia. I cannot see them winning unless their kicker, who ever it is, can achieve a 90% success rate.
That said the Lions have to cut out the penalties and they will be glad to have got that particular referee out of the way. In the remaining tests, their players need to be more disciplined and adapt more quickly if the interpretation isn’t going their way.
We didn’t see the domination from the Lions forwards that had been expected. For the Lions to drive home any forwards advantage they really need to shore up the loose-head side of the scrum and it will be vital Mako Vunipola gets an edge over Ben Alexander.
The mid-week game this week against the Rebels could be a real pointer of how the Lions will change their style. Expect more mauling, as the Lions try and impose forward domination and test the Australian’s ability to cope defensively.
Australia aren’t well known for mauling and their players don’t get a lot of practice defending against it in Super 15. The Lions will see if they can move the ball, but also try and suck in defenders creating space for their backs.
I was surprised that Warren Gatland went with Ben Youngs at scrum half but I think that is a really positive move. Youngs has shown a real zip to his game and he should allow the backs to get going, whilst offering a real threat with his speed.
Ultimately I expect the Lions to win the test and series this Saturday, they are just too strong across the board for the home team.
Lions: George North gives the Australians all sorts of defensive problems. He can score great individual tries
Australia: James O’Conner at 10 is key to any chance of the Australians taking the series to the final test.
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