The 2021 Lions

Mr Notherone

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Although hopeful after the first test, I found the whole series disappointing. SA were clearly very rusty, very one dimensional and nowhere near the team that won the world cup, but still we couldn't get over the line. SA are totally predictable, they only play one way, always.

Unfortunately the warm up games, against awful opposition, were hopeless. True to form, Gatland made some strange selection decisions giving the appearance of not knowing how he wanted to play. He has always been a conservative selector, but I don't think it was his selection that made the difference. Even with Russell playing well for 70 minutes we didn't win. IMO the players on the field just weren't good enough when it mattered. Too many player carried poor end of season form onto the tour (Faletau, Murray, Hogg, Farrell and there were more). Execution was poor with plenty of chances missed. To score just two (short range forward) tries in three tests says it all.

I remember past tours when we have been well beaten, this time SA didn't need to do much. They stuck at it, made better decisions and took their limited chances. The Lions didn't. I think I'll remember this tour as one big missed opportunity against a SA not at their best.

Did anyone see the Aussie v NZ - now that is how rugby can be played!
 

bonefishblues

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As you say, it's a gift to play an opposition where you know exactly, to the T, how they will play in advance. As a bonus, they didn't really play that plan terribly well, either. With the player pool and the coaching staff the Lions have that should have been a series won, without doubt.
 

boisker

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I wouldn’t wish an injury on any player, but it’s a shame Russell wasn’t at 10 earlier in the series.... as expected he made a huge difference...
who’d have guessed it.... a naturally gifted / attacking 10 makes a difference...
I hope Jones is watching... Smith at 10 please
 

LukeNZ

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Although hopeful after the first test, I found the whole series disappointing. SA were clearly very rusty, very one dimensional and nowhere near the team that won the world cup, but still we couldn't get over the line. SA are totally predictable, they only play one way, always.

Unfortunately the warm up games, against awful opposition, were hopeless. True to form, Gatland made some strange selection decisions giving the appearance of not knowing how he wanted to play. He has always been a conservative selector, but I don't think it was his selection that made the difference. Even with Russell playing well for 70 minutes we didn't win. IMO the players on the field just weren't good enough when it mattered. Too many player carried poor end of season form onto the tour (Faletau, Murray, Hogg, Farrell and there were more). Execution was poor with plenty of chances missed. To score just two (short range forward) tries in three tests says it all.

I remember past tours when we have been well beaten, this time SA didn't need to do much. They stuck at it, made better decisions and took their limited chances. The Lions didn't. I think I'll remember this tour as one big missed opportunity against a SA not at their best.

Did anyone see the Aussie v NZ - now that is how rugby can be played!

NZ were a bit sloppy at times, but got the job done comfortably. Early day’s though with new management and several older players passing on the baton to younger talent.

Never an option though, to let the Aussies have our cup (Bledisloe)….. it’s become a permanent fixture in our silverware cabinet!

🙃
 

PaulD

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Whereas there is natural disappointment over a lost Lions series, and yes, South Africa are not a side brimming with skills and exuberance and free flowing play, the simple assessment is that our squad was not good enough.

Any amount of 20:20 hindsight will not change the fact that our play could not consistently challenge South Africa throughout 80 minutes. There is much chat about Finn Russell, how he should have been the chosen, starting 10, and how he 'may' have changed the outcome. Nonsense. Finn Russell is a hugely talented player, he is capable of delivering the unexpected, but he is a loose canon - often what he does is unexpected by his team mates. This is Finn Russell, dropped by Scotland for not turning up for training after late night drinking in the hotel, Finn Russell red carded and missing 3 Six Nations games for foul play. In the pressure environment of a Lions test, 80 minutes of stability is more valuable than the possibility of odd moments of flair.
 

thetrouttickler

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South Africa's "boring", "totally one dimensional" rugby under Erasmus has now won them a Rugby Championship, Rugby World Cup and a Lions series. It might not win over the neutral, but it is brutally successful. The last competitive game played by South Africa was the RWC final in 2019. Had they been more up to test standard, the margins would likely have been more in their favour. They had to dig deep for this win, but that's what champion teams do. Perhaps they should receive a little more respect?
 

boisker

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Whereas there is natural disappointment over a lost Lions series, and yes, South Africa are not a side brimming with skills and exuberance and free flowing play, the simple assessment is that our squad was not good enough.

Any amount of 20:20 hindsight will not change the fact that our play could not consistently challenge South Africa throughout 80 minutes. There is much chat about Finn Russell, how he should have been the chosen, starting 10, and how he 'may' have changed the outcome. Nonsense. Finn Russell is a hugely talented player, he is capable of delivering the unexpected, but he is a loose canon - often what he does is unexpected by his team mates. This is Finn Russell, dropped by Scotland for not turning up for training after late night drinking in the hotel, Finn Russell red carded and missing 3 Six Nations games for foul play. In the pressure environment of a Lions test, 80 minutes of stability is more valuable than the possibility of odd moments of flair.

if the future is having a 10 who passed the ball wide 3 times in the 2nd test then it’s gonna be a cold, grey and miserable few years...
 
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Mr Notherone

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South Africa's "boring", "totally one dimensional" rugby under Erasmus has now won them a Rugby Championship, Rugby World Cup and a Lions series. It might not win over the neutral, but it is brutally successful. The last competitive game played by South Africa was the RWC final in 2019. Had they been more up to test standard, the margins would likely have been more in their favour. They had to dig deep for this win, but that's what champion teams do. Perhaps they should receive a little more respect?
Who is disrespecting them? They deserved their series win, made fewer mistakes and took their opportunities...but let's not pretend they aren't boring, or that they are playing anywhere near as well as they did at the last WC.
 

JRT

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South Africa's "boring", "totally one dimensional" rugby under Erasmus has now won them a Rugby Championship, Rugby World Cup and a Lions series. It might not win over the neutral, but it is brutally successful. The last competitive game played by South Africa was the RWC final in 2019. Had they been more up to test standard, the margins would likely have been more in their favour. They had to dig deep for this win, but that's what champion teams do. Perhaps they should receive a little more respect?

SA are what they are. No disrespect but I'm certainly not going to refrain from criticising what was boring and cynical play (on and off the field). I also criticise the Lions players and tactics. Erasmus is hardly a tactical genius. They were fortunate to win the RWC largely down to their route to the finals.
The Wales/SA semi was the most boring game I can remember. Same tactics. But they do turn up for the big games and keep the pen count down when it matters. The Lions could have won this series. How players go from being 10/10 under the high ball to 1/10 is beyond me?
You'll see how to beat SA in the next Tri-Nations.
 

BobP

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South Africa's "boring", "totally one dimensional" rugby under Erasmus has now won them a Rugby Championship, Rugby World Cup and a Lions series. It might not win over the neutral, but it is brutally successful. The last competitive game played by South Africa was the RWC final in 2019. Had they been more up to test standard, the margins would likely have been more in their favour. They had to dig deep for this win, but that's what champion teams do. Perhaps they should receive a little more respect?
I don't know about SA digging deep to win yesterday. That game should have been dead & buried before half time had a pass gone out to Williams ( I believe) on the wing when he had a clear run to the line. The commentators made quite a lot of comment on that missed opportunity. Another missed opportunity occurred in the 2nd half when Currie went off side in a driving maul when the try line beckoned only a few feet away. Poor decision making and lack of vision cost the Lions despite them playing very much better in the final game than they had in the 2nd.
 
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LukeNZ

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Its always obvious what the players should have done, to the sidelines, spectatstors, critics and commentators - but iron Mile Tyson called it right; "...everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face....".

Unless you are on the park in the meat grinder, there is no real sense of the pain and pressure, to temper fully the on field play with the spectator view...

🙃
 
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BobP

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Its always obvious what the players should have done, to the sidelines, spectatstors, critics and commentators - but iron Mile Tyson called it right; "...everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face....".

Unless you are on the park in the meat grinder, there is no real sense of the pain and pressure, to temper fully the on field play with the spectator view...

🙃
Perfectly true, BUT the Lions are arguably the best players our four nations can put together on the field of play. I don't think it unreasonable to expect them to be able to see beyond the player closest to them for a scoring opportunity or to avoid getting pinged for an off-side decision that any decent quality club player would have seen coming.
 

LukeNZ

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Perfectly true, BUT the Lions are arguably the best players our four nations can put together on the field of play. I don't think it unreasonable to expect them to be able to see beyond the player closest to them for a scoring opportunity or to avoid getting pinged for an off-side decision that any decent quality club player would have seen coming.
A collection of a wide range of best players, often has not converted into a best team.

The Lions test record proves that, compared with that say of a good team, largely devoid of stars (until they are selected...) like the AB's. - from one of the smallest population pools.

Northern stars, seem overpayed, overplayed, and with too many other distractions off the field. The Lions and to a certain extent northern premier teams, are teams of individuals, from top to bottom, just looking after number one - and accumulating cash?

🙃
 
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I believe in the recent Lions Test series, it's the first time since 1968 that no try was scored from the backs. To me that says everything about Warren Gatland's negative tactics and a lack of faith in the flair players available to him.
 

thetrouttickler

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I believe in the recent Lions Test series, it's the first time since 1968 that no try was scored from the backs. To me that says everything about Warren Gatland's negative tactics and a lack of faith in the flair players available to him.

The Lions scored two tries in three tests, both of them scored by front row forwards.

The Springboks scored four tries in three tests, all scored by the backs.

Yet the Springboks are boring.

🙂
 

Mr Notherone

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I believe in the recent Lions Test series, it's the first time since 1968 that no try was scored from the backs. To me that says everything about Warren Gatland's negative tactics and a lack of faith in the flair players available to him.
I think that's fair, Gatland's always been conservative. I'd add though, that there was hardly any quick ball to find space with and when we did, the execution was poor. We didn't win enough collisions and break the gain line enough so we were forced to kick most possession away. We had enough chances in the third test but didn't take any. SA took all theirs.
 

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