SHIT/GOOD Ratings: British & Irish Lions third test selection special

Assuming that Gatland isn’t going to come out in the press conference and say, “to be honest lads, I was a bit drunk, so please ignore this team and I’ll have a proper one for you in an hour”, it seems that this is the match squad the Lions have for the deciding Third Test in Sydney this Saturday. The Twitter has gone what can technically be described as ‘effing ballistic’, particularly about the omission of Brian O’Driscoll, but let’s try and decipher what this selection is all about, and decide, section by section, whether it’s any GOOD.

Front Row – Alex Corbisiero, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones

The Lions’ biggest issue last week was in the forwards and particularly in the scrum. Many will make the argument that there was a lot of illegality in the scrums and so the selection last week were diddled a bit by that; but given that such illegality happens all the time this must be treated as the norm and selections made on that basis. Corbisiero did enough in the first Test to warrant a recall after injury; Hibbard offers more in the tight that Youngs and Adam is Adam. So, all in all, this one is GOOD.

Second Row – Geoff Parling, Alun-Wyn Jones (C)

This one is more of a mystery. Parling was a bit lightweight last week and also did not perform the line out services we can normally expect from him. Richie Grey has had a decent tour and deserved a run out in what is probably the only position where that has been no outstanding candidate. AWJ was on everyone’s teamsheet, but not as captain. However, he has captained his club all season and there was another Lions captain from the boilerhouse who took the armband with very little captaincy experience elsewhere. I seem to remember he did OK. SHT, because of Parling.

Back Row – Dan Lydiate, Sean O’Brien, Toby Faletau

With Sam injured this was always going to see change, and O’Brien in his place is a selection most would’ve made; ditto that of the retention of Lydiate, who was pretty outstanding in the Second Test. Faletau for Heaslip is the outlier here, but this blog would’ve made this change as Heaslip’s control at the base of the scrum has been appalling and Faletau offers more in the loose as he makes better runs, has better hands and you lose nothing in defence with him. GOOD

Half Backs – Mike Phillips, Jonny Sexton

This blog would not have dropped Phillips last week, so him being reinstated is right for us; however it’s still a bit of a mystery as to why he had to miss a game. Sexton is obviously the best 10 available, but really needs to kick territory better. GOOD.

Centres – Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies

No Brian O’Driscoll. On the face of it this is worst decision since Will James as an international player in 2007, but is it really that bad? While his defence has been stout as ever, BOD has not been on great form from an attacking point of view and he has given away three key penalties at the breakdown, but his experience could be missed in this most crunchy of crunch matches. In Davies’ defence, we are told that Lions tours are all about combinations, and Roberts & Davies are a proven combination straight off the shelf which, ergo, must be a good thing. Many in the social media have pointed to the fact that Davies missed the tackle on Ashley-Cooper for the try at the weekend, but after a team defending for thirty minutes solid it is unfair to single one player out. I would hope that the plan this week does not involve the kind of non-play and endless tackling that marked the Lions’ second half in the last outing, please God…

Roberts was always going to start once fit. GOOD

Back Three – George North, Tommy Bowe, Leigh Hafpenny

No brainer. GOOD

So there you go. For all the hysteria this morning this is a team that may have some talking points, but you cannot really say there are any aneurysm-inducing howlers. Even the BOD non-selection has a logic to it. But that’s only what I think, I’m sure you’ve all some thoughts of your own so let’s have them

30 comments

watched the 2nd test last night.. the penalty given against BOD was very harsh, ref called a ruck when it never was. As for the 2 in the first test, to be honest I didn’t see him do anything he normally doesn’t do i.e. bounce back to his feet and contest for the ball.

So, in my best de-escalating tones, IMHO, these penalties are no reason to drop him.

Also in the 2nd test at least, he had a very high tackle count. None of the backs stood out in that game – apart from Gogzilla physically rearranging the Wallabies back line.

Meanwhile twitter is making entertaining reading. Waiting for the first call to lynch Gats.. surely wont be long more in coming.

Garry, the point is that the ref clearly called a ruck and BOD ignored that and carried on.  All those pointing to his experience keep ignoring the fact that his experience was not used when he kept ignoring the way the refs were calling the breakdown.

Whether we or he thought he was right is irrelevant, from the first pen in the first test he should've changed his approach to the breakdown.  He didn't, and I think that's why he's paying the price with Gatland.

The Youngs brothers and Alex Cuthbert have done more GOOD, with less opportunity, than BOD has in the series so far. Where is the outcry for the ommission of 50% of our tryscorers?

I don’t have too many issues with the individual selections, but we all know there are limits to the international harmony of the Lions both on and off the field. 2005 proved so conclusively. The great majority of Lions fans now have – in their own minds, at least – a built-in excuse for failure. If and when the Lions lose on Saturday, how many Welsh fans’ holidays will be further ruined by the echoes of bitter English told-you-sos?

Im still unconvinced about Lydiate over Croft. Lydiate definately plays a terrific tight, defensive game, but croft has the attacking ability and lineout expertise. It seems very odd that he is outside the match 22.

I thought tom youngs had done enough for selection again – with a better scrummaging loose head he should be fine. The O’driscoll call is odd – surely you want the experienced guys there in a deciding match.

I’m going for an australian win by 7.

my theory is he wants Manu on the bench as his impact centre, and roberts starting, thats means davies or BOD goes. on form davies stays. the only case for Bod is therefore experience/leadership, and at this level is that going to make a difference? i would say that not, but plenty will disagree (i hope i don’t eat those words), so whilst i share the “please god …” that B&M suggests i think its the right call. but a ballsy one.

as for the pack, i think i would have tips starting and croft and SOB on teh bench, (gray has been a bit onconsistent)

interestingly, and i would not have said this before, i think when connor murray came on we had better shape in test 2, so i think i’d go for that as well.

my one diagreement is tom youngs should start but he’ll be great off the bench

and whilst i am at it. i could not give a F*ck that there are 10 welshmen. if i thought they were the best 15 they could all play.

is davies vs BOD not wales vs ireland,

and I for one (englishman) am sorry i am not going to be in sydney to cheer them on.

Lee, you’ve got to stop doing this – I know you’re not Welsh yet you’re giving unequivocal backing to Gatland’s decision to replay our (Wales) tests from last summer. Don’t you know that Gatland is disrespecting the best centre ever? Don’t you know he is pissing all over the proud tradition of the Lions in taking 4 countries, removing Scotland, and then playing wispy fancy dan rugby? Have you not heard the death cries of former rugby players and genius pundits alike; Keith Wood, Ian Robertson, et al? It’s your duty as an Englishman to refuse to support this team (while still maintaining that all Scottish people were wrong not to support previous Lions tests). If you need any pointers pop over to The Rugby Blog to get a clearer idea which is summarised as:

Gats is shit.
Wales couldn’t beat Aus next year so never will.
BOD is such a lovely man, how can he be left out?
Gats is shit… Gats it shit… etc.

“how many Welsh fans’ holidays will be further ruined by the echoes of bitter English told-you-sos” – None. None at all. 30-3 will keep us smiling through to the apocalypse.

Gav, I wish everyone had your view. It’s getting to the point where you’re better off not admitting you’re Welsh on some blogs; if you do then they think you’re in on the “conspiracy” and direct all of their ire at you.

For the record Gats does what Gats wants and couldn’t give a toss what Welsh fans think. This tour is no different, he’s just limited by the fact that the best players he has are Welsh …

Lydiate had to start once Warburton was ruled out. Genia around the fringes is lethal and whilst I think SoB is a fine player I am not convinced about his discipline as a defensive 7 – and Croft is probably to loose to risk if the fronges are going to be probed by the best 9 in the world…Lydiate gives you taht defensive positioning and tackle count around the fringes

I generally agree as well, although there is some part of me that says that Davies over BOD on form is a fairly close call anyway (yes he has been playing at 12 instead of 13 but hasn’t exactly set the backline alight) so if you want to be ballsy, go all the way and start with Manu (although quite where your impact sub comes from after that… 36 anyone?)

fair points I guess, in the 1st test he stayed the feck away from the breakdown after the 2nd penalty….

But look, giving 3 penalties away in 2 games can surely not be a reason for dropping him (given all the other good stuff he did). Especially when you look at how uninventive the whole back line was…. not much in the way of practized moves, no inside runners… blah balh..

I personally think it is tactical and Gats just wants to smash ’em up…good luck to him. Like the Aussies wont be able to handle that.

Especially when you

To quote a friends comment he has put his “knackers on the block” with this team.
If they were to lose with O’Driscoll on the team everyone would have said “oh well. That’s Lions rugby” (4 series wins out of 20ish). But now that BOD is not in, if they lose it will be because he chose the wrong team.

At the end of the day I don’t support the Lions because of the amount of Irish, Welsh or others in the team. I support them because they are Lions!

We are where we are. Roll on Saturday!

As an Englishman who loves giving the Welsh some shit, you have to admit that this is the best team he could pick, I have no issues with it. I live over here in Sydney and when my Aussie rugby mates saw the team sheet they said ‘Oh shit’.

The front row needed more beef – it has got it.
Parling is severly underrated and people think that because of the way he looks, he’s a bit lightweight. He’s a quality player.

The backrow needed more beef – it has got it. Lydiate is there to do a job on Genia and SOB/Falatau will run like a freaking steam trains at O’Connor.

This area of the play is absolutely critical to how the match will be won on Saturday. O’Connor is not a 10 or a playmaker, he has no freaking idea – most people in Australia know this. Genia is critical to Australia winning this game. Lydiate is there to neutralise him so that SOB can knock two shits out of O’Connor.

BOD being dropped, who gives a shite. A year ago people where questioning is ability to maintain his Irish place. Great rugby player, one of teh world’s best centres, but right decision. You play Roberts anyday of the week as the Lions made zero yards last week at the gainline. Roberts has to pay. JD is simply better than O’Driscoll right now. Then after 60 mins when Roberts is screwed, you bring Manu on to run like a freaking idiot at O’connor again…

And that my friends is Gats’ plan. Everyone in Australia can see it and so does Deans… wy the frig do you think he’s picked George Smith at 7 after 4 years of no international rugby? He doen’t need a lightweight Hooper in there, he needs a dig fighter like Smith counteracting the carnage that the Lions backrow is about to unfold on Genia and O’Connor… Funny how none of the UK media has picked up on this at all…

Brighty … that’s the trouble with Wales. I’m English, and enjoy watching Wales at the moment (and for the past few years): great team, tries, defence, all good, but under-performing when it really counts, i.e., RWC. I think Brian Moore said “to Wales” in commentary after the 30-3 (and through gritted teeth, admittedly): don’t let beating England be the limit of your ambition! Most English fans can’t remember the various big scorelines in some 6 nations games in the run-up to 2003 … but we can remember the wins against the Southern hemisphere teams. That’s where Wales needs to be, mentally. Anyway, let’s hope Lions win, and Wales take that forward … to the Group of Death in 2015!

Wasn’t Parling one of the highest tacklers in the last game? And he got all the throws that went to him, the last one that was lost was Hibbard’s fault. And, whilst he didn’t win any of Aus lineout ball, he came close on a few occassions. Wouldn’t have said he had a bad game..

Even when we knock you out of the World cup at the Group stage? 😉

Really? I thought Lydiate was picked to make Warburton look good. With Warbs out, and given his adequate form no better, surely he’s not that essential. Ah this would have been perfect for Robshaw to win it for the Lions, but for Gat’s lack of vision…

Strangely Manu tends to be less effective from the bench. I think he’s there as a contingency (in case Roberts pulls up) not impact

This really is the best team he could have picked…to beat england…at Cardiff. Austrailia? In sydney? Not so sure. However Gatland is one of the jammiest coaches ever – lightening striking twice for the first test (see Eng v Wal in 2008) – no doubt Lions will win. Plus its all set up for Aus to win…so they wont.

Please B&M can we have a new “gameplan explained”. Spencer, Grewcock, Powell. Superb (and very balanced btw)

Not gonna happen Benjit – imagine how far we will be propelled by the schadenfreude of knocking you out of your home World Cup. We went to all the trouble of losing 4 AIs to get into that group, we are not going to cock it up.

Mud and blood re your first reply to Pankhurst, unfortunately it appears you didn’t watch the match carefully, when saying the penalty against bod you say is for his non adherence to jouberts call of ruck and he should learn, firstly it wasn’t a ruck as o Driscoll was there before ruck formed and not shifted and entitled to contest but secondly if you listen to joubert he says to o Driscoll he says ‘I called ruck but I understand why you didn’t here it’ I suggest you listen so your view that he should have adjusted to the ref doesn’t tally. Secondly remember who the ref is on sat is polite a n hemi I ref who let’s rucks a free for all and if gatland thought it through would realize that bod would wreak havoc at the breakdown

Just you wait until we get Tindall and Noon out of retirement. You won’t be the only ones not laughing. Believe me.

Interesting that you blame Hibbard for THAT lost lineout, not just you, but Barnes et al especially blame the hookers when lineouts are lost.

The reason THAT critical lineout was lost was due to some blatant Aussie interference in the air which is why Parling missed his throw.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, i’ll say it again..

What were we doing throwing long? Throw it short and set up the driving maul was surely the right play.

If the driving maul didnt work, we were sufficiently close enough for an easy 1/2p pen, or if the pen wasn’t forthcoming, a DG attempt.

Decision making has been lacking in both tests.

I philosophically asked myself some questions…. Do I agree with the selection: NO

Would I have picked the youngs bro’s: Yes
Should BOD be in: everyday of the week for me
Does this make me support them any less: Absolutely not.

The last one is the important one, we would all do things differently if we were in charge but this is what I love about the lions, so much debate and opinions. Many former top players are disagreeing with each other much as we are on this blog (no idea what level people have played on here, not that it matters). Sure I’d like to see a couple more English players in but would I rather that than win the series no.

It’s all part of the plan to keep rugby ticking over by not picking BOD…..we will debate for 4 years now in the same way that ROFG singlehandedly lost the 2009 tour! But only if we lose, if we win Gats is a hero….who’d be a top level coach!

Well put. I disagree with the side as well (Tips and Ianto should also be starting) but that isn’t going to make me support them any less.

Heard a great interview with Willi-jon McBride….basically said he is devastated for BOD however on the selection he said as soon as you are selected for the lions your arent welsh, english scottish or irish you are a lion and that is it.

Gives me goosebumps that man!

Cant wait for tomorrow

Timing and refs interpretation is everything. How often is the ruck call simultaneous with competing player winning ball and the ref letting him have it/penalising?

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