1. Defeat is probably a good thing.
Bear with us on this one. The loss is out of the way now and any idea, however fanciful, of going the whole tour undefeated is out of the window. This should be pressure relieving if handled the right way by the Lions coaches.
2. The midfield rush defence really isn’t that difficult to get around
Anyone who listens the podcast will know that Lee has strong views of how criminal it that so few teams can figure out how to deal with a big bloke pegging it out of the defensive line to cut time and space in the attacking midfield. James Haskell has built a defensive rebirth in the England team with this pattern. The Blues opening try demonstrated that this can be defeated by simply putting prop as a first receiver pivot. That’s all it took. A bloody prop stood still doing a scissor pass.
3. It wasn’t Sexton’s fault.
Many have commented since the conclusion of the match that the gameplan changed when Sexton arrived to replace Dan Biggar and therefore: Sexton’s fault. This is incorrect. What actually happened was the enture Lions gameplan changed when Biggar left as demonstrated by how few times Sexton touched the ball as Rhys Webb booted ball after up in the air like he had box-kick tourette’s. What led to this is unclear. Webb losing hs regular half-back partner caused him to lack confidence in opening it up? The rain increasing to a level that a kicking game was seen as the way forward? Warren Gatland told them to start doing it in the second half? Or perhaps this is what Rob Howley means by rugby chaos? Whatever the reason, Sexton has his issues at the minute, but the lack of direction in second half was not his fault alone by any means.
4. Avoidable penalties are avoidable and costly
The lions clocked up thirteen penalties in the match; in chronological order they were:
- Haskell neck grab suplex at ruck when in good attacking position
- Biggar encroaches on lineout that Lions had just bloody stolen on Blues 5m line.
- Lawes taking out man in lineout loses 50m of territory.
- Haskell/Payne crossing
- Offside in defence line on halfway.
- Holding on, on 5m line when attacking
- No gap at lineout (seriously? this is a the most piss-boiling of the lot)
- Stander high tackle 41mins, leads to freak bounce out try. (Can’t legislate for a bounce of course, but playing sensibly in defence you can plan for.)
- Tipuric Not rolling away
- Itoje flying through ruck to jump on scrum half
- Sanjay taking man out in air, Episode 1
- Sanjay taking man out in air, The Revenge.
- Marler pick and go leads to holding on call
Not every one of these pens led directly to points against the Lions, but they did ruin attacking positions and gave the ball back to the opposition far too many times. Any team, let alone a scratch one full of people attempting to meld a gameplan, would struggle in the face of such profligate discipline, the vast majority of which were entirely avoidable.
5. Maro Itoje’s on-field personal is now full-on turbo twat.
There are many ways to show your commitment on the pitch and constantly clapping and squealing is probably the least appealing of them. That was bad enough and that was before his incredible display of bouncing up and down on the spot, howling like a banshee when the ref called a maul turover against the Blues late on; like some giant, hateful version of Yosemite Sam.
6. Sonny Bill Williams’ offloading should be sold in adult shops
As should Rieko Ione’s running
7. No team would’ve stopped that winning try.
OK, maybe 2015-16 Saracens would, but you take the point.
8. The Lions 12 jersey looks decent.
Robbie Henshaw showed up well in a difficult afternoon. Add this to the GOOD Te’o performance in the opening match and thats’ at least one thing that Gatland doesn’t have to worry so much about.