On the 25th June 2005 in Christchurch, New Zealand – Brian O’Driscoll, the captain of the British and Irish Lions, was the victim of a tip tackle a minute into the game that ended his tour. He has not captained a Lions team in a test since, but his time may now come in the massive final test decider against Australia – more on this later.
So the Aussie’s strike back. Though not reaching the levels of quality of the 1st test another dramatic match ensued at the Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, with a missed last play of the game kick for the second match running – you couldn’t make it up. The nerves showed within both teams as a penalty fest was interrupted by an Adam Ashley-Cooper try five minutes from time and then a nerveless conversion from Christian Lealiifano (a man who lasted just 53 seconds in the first test before being knocked out) put them a point ahead – a week in sport hey. A deserved win for the Wallabies (making it over the whitewash is what its all about) but the Lions could so easily have nicked it, just like the Antipodeans could have won in Brisbane. Basically in two matches, three points have separated the teams – yes folks it is that close!!!!!!!
So who is going to win in Sydney – well I’ll put my cards on the table now – Lions by 7 – just reciprocating a certain Mr Campese’s thoughts (his obviously in Australia’s favour) – I replied to his the tweet with the following hashtag #webothtinkingwithheart but seriously there is hardly anything between the teams. The only advantage I can see is that Australia are at home and with the momentum of winning the 2nd test its understandable they will be seen as having an edge – as said a very slight one in my opinion. They will go to Sydney buoyed by the result, but they may also go there without their captain James Horwill, as the IRB are appealing his fortunate ‘let off’ for stamping on the head of Alan Wyn Jones. Personally for me his participation in the tour should really be over and his influence in Melbourne was there for all to see, so he would be a massive miss at the ANZ Stadium.
So what now for the Lions, so close to a series victory and ultimate glory, definitely no blame attached to the Leigh Halfpenny kick – as my mate said it was miles out – but they will rue the loss of a lineout in the Australian 22 with two minutes on the clock – those are the times in games your execution has to be perfect – the margins are that close. Now with captain Sam Warburton limping off and now a major doubt for the final test, it may fall to Brian O’Driscoll to lead the team, hence the redemption mentioned at the beginning of this piece, he was targeted and basically taken out illegally in 2005 – with no sanction – so if he does end up as the leader in Sydney he so deserves to come out successful, though not a given – hard work will be required and a hell of a lot of nerve!!!!!!! as well as a bit of luck. Anyways changes I would make (assuming Sam Warburton is not fit) Tipuric and O’Brien to come in and I’d also stick in some scottish grit with Richie Gray to be drafted into the second row, a man I feel who has been extremely unlucky in my opinion to not even make a test 23 so far on the tour. I doubt Gats will listen to me mind, he has enough thinking to do. Players such as Jamie Roberts, Alex Corbisiero, Manu Tuilagi and Mike Phillips will be hoping to prove their fitness, I would expect some changes for the do or die test in Australia’s largest city.
With a clear week for both teams till the crunch match, the Lions have taken themselves off to Noosa for a bit of rest and relaxation – definitely a good decision especially after a long tour. Once over, the focus will be on the third test and as my mate @evster69 tweeted ‘belief the key…we can beat these toe to toe. ..time to be brave and go for the jugular’ and I can’t agree more. Roll on Saturday 🙂
Now for us Lions fans we would have loved to have finished the series off in Melbourne, however there is something about having a decider in this situation and it is right thing seeing that there is virtually nothing between the two teams. Bring it on I say – its going to be a cracker. So what are your thoughts for what I feel has now become the the biggest sporting event of British and Irish summer. LIONS LIONS LIONS get ARRRRRRR
Update – 3rd July 2013 – Lions Team now named – WTF!!!!!!!