Preview: Australia vs British & Irish Lions, 2nd Test

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

Teams:

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.

8 comments

have to say i think i agree with all his choices, starting dan has to be the right thing.

my little niggle is are we solid enough up front? but i think croft and obrien on teh bench has to be right. and the fact that the press now seem to think Aus have an opportunity at the scrum, means our guys will not be believing their own press (nothing like the fear of having your head shoved up your arse to focus you, or losing one against teh head on teh aussie 5yd line with a few minutes to go), and we can keep jones on for 80mins…

I hope phillips is recovering as I feel a little light with murray on teh bench and i would have quite like to have seen an angry mike phillips coming on.

I’m worried sick about Youngs, but if you have a shocker like Phillips had in a 3-match series you have to expect to pay. I just wish I trusted the backup.

Lydiate makes sense; if you’ve got an out-and-out defensive player, you start him or you don’t use him at all.

I’m a huge Tommy Bowe fan. I’ll be an even huger one if he comes anywhere near justifying being picked ahead of the best finisher in the northern hemisphere.

I have no clue what Toby Faletau needs to do. But I suppose that would be true of any back-rower left out…

We just look vulnerable. I think Aus will still feel they just need to hang in there, and wait for the sucker punch. They won’t miss twice.

I was about to call you on that”best finisher in the northern hemisphere” line

But then I thought through all the options and I’m really not sure I can disagree with it.

Who else is there who finishes as well as Cuthbert? Some who create more but given half a chance, I can’t think of anyone else who is more likely to finish it

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