I expected that the Lions might be a bit tired having only landed in the country mid week, and it was always going to be a nervy opening encounter, however I did expect the Lions to win this game handsomely.
The first game has to be won, it sets the tone, but it also doubles as a way of giving lads a means to stretch their legs and get game time, and gives the Lions management a chance to see the form of some the players.
13-7 is how it finished, two penalties, a try from Anthony Watson and a conversion, the Lions win, however the major headlines are saying that Johnny Sexton blew his chance and was terrible, I wouldn’t say he was terrible, he was a bit rusty off the tee and kicking out of hand, however his movement around the park, passing and the usual skills of guiding the team around the pitch were there. I think the context of the newspaper headlines is more about the fact the Johnny needed a big game to put his name beside Owen Farrells for the test matches against the All Blacks, however Warren Gatland defended Johnny which I feel is right, Johnny could fly into form in the next game, Farrell gets injured and then Johnny becomes the main man. Sexton missed his opening kick but he did kick over the second penalty and was substituted on the 50 minute mark for Owen Farrell.
Tadgh Furlong got his first run out in a Lions Jersey coming on after 50 minutes, he replaced Kyle Sinckler who really stuck his hand up for selection. He had a great game making a lot of carries, holding the scrum, and his passing skills were great. Its bad news for the in form Furlong but great news for supporters and Lions management as they now have two in form 3’s to pick from.
Ben Te’o proved some of his doubters wrong putting in a big performance and was the most threatening of the Lions backline in the game. The former Leinster man really needed to make a statement and that he did.
Toby Faletau was another player that put in a big performance, he made a try saving tackle and was huge in terms of carries and metres made in the game. Toby was consistent, and thats what he brings to the game.
Ross Moriarty also had a good game, and gives the coaches other options should CJ Stander succumb to an ankle injury that he’s carrying.
One player that I was disappointed with was Stuart Hogg, he was not his usual in form self, very sloppy and the Lions need a solid full back in this gruelling schedule of games.
Listen back to our PODCAST to hear our thoughts for the Lions Tour.
Here’s reaction from Anthony Watson after the game….