After last week’s cloth touching match, it’s time for the second installment of the series in Melbourne and this blog wants the Lions to win. Some people are saying that an Aus win, thus setting up a decider next week would be good for the tour, but I’d rather have a dose of chilli-infused piles than have to suffer a deciding Test. But will the Lions do it?
Yes, they will. For as start, the Lions have Leigh Halfpenny, whose kicking is more reliable than Tom Waldrom at an all you can eat buffet; they also have a much stronger bench for impact late on; and the Wallabies still have James O’Connor at 10 whose performance last week was Orquera-esque in its incompetence.
Even with the changes in the pack the Lions should still be too strong in the set piece, and Parling’s inclusion should actually make the lineout better.
The big worry, as always, is Will Genia. Can Ben Youngs do what Phillips failed so hopelessly at last week and get the better of the little wizard? Or if he can’t do that, at least stop him having such an influence on the game? Sexton can help by kicking for territory more intelligently than he did last week, as the Aussies back three can kill you if you don’t turn them and then chase properly. If all else fails, we can just Give It To George.
It will be another close one, but I come back to those two words; words so comforting they should stuff pillows with them: Leigh Halfpenny.
B&M Prediction: Lions by 3.
Spotter’s Badge: Camera cutting to Mike Phillips in the stand every time Ben Youngs or Conor Murray make even the tiniest of mistakes
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane, James O’Connor, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen, James Horwill (capt), Kane Douglas, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson.
Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Liam Gill, Nick Phipps, Rob Horne, Jesse Mogg.
British & Irish Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North, Jonathan Sexton, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (c), Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Grant, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Alex Cuthbert.