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Saturday, 27 June 2009

Where did it all go wrong?

Let's start with the bench maybe.
Or perhaps the game plan?
The assistant referee's decision that eye gouging despite recent suspensions for players like Alan Quinlan and Martin Corry this season, Schalk Burger's attempts to touch Luke Fitzgerald's brain only gets him 10 minutes in the bin?
Ronan O'Gara - more then likely going to be the fall guy for near every paper the far side of the English Channel?

Will Greenwood touches on some interesting points about the commitment with which the Lions played. Never shirking from the immensely physical 'Boks and standing toe to toe with them in the confrontations - a point no more evident then Brian O'Driscoll mouthing "Bring it on" to the slightly taller Victor Matfield after a bout of handbags.
Unfortunately Greenwood's points lose their resonance when he then turns around to single out his compatriots Simon Shaw and Tom Croft for special mention. A bizarre decision after such a game. Shaw for his honesty and brute force had a good game, Sky do seem to have a love affair with his character that probably stems from his great personality. He played a good game today, took his line out ball at two cleanly and carried some good ball forward. However, he was also at fault for a couple of silly penalties and his bulk also makes it hard for him to compete with opposition lineouts, which led to some easy and quick ball for the 'Boks. It was terrible to see him dragged before the cameras out of the losing dressing room to answer some pretty awful questions from the Sky commentators, maybe there is a contractual obligation to have these interviews but I am not one to enjoy either winning or losing players being asked banal questions minutes from a victory or defeat.
Tom Croft on the other hand seemed anonymous. Picked for what the pundits will have you believe was his speed around the park and sheer atheltchism, he failed to provide any of the abilities today. The Springbok backrow is one of the best, if not the best in the world, but Croft was outpaced on a couple of occasions in the latter stages of the game giving the South Africans great field position with which to attack.

The game was marred with huge hits, some legal and some not so much, the most memorable in Brian O'Driscoll's which resulted in his opposition man clearly concussed. "B O'D" once again putting his body on the line for a cause, showing why he is one of the greatest defensive centres in the world.

Ultimately the Lions lost the game by failing to make more of their lead at the start of the second half. They let the Springboks slowly back into a game when they should have increased the tempo and spread the ball out wide early to either wing, both of whom looked dangerous when given the opportunity.

It's still raw now, great games like these always are for the losing fans. Despite losing the series I think this trip may have secured the Lions as an entity for another few years. With professionalism hitting heights never seen before, and players getting bigger, the collisions now more like car crashes, a 7 week trip at the end of a season is always going to be in jeopardy. Hopefully it will last as a Lions victory is always something to cherish. Unfortunately for the likes of Simon Shaw and B O'D they may not play in one before the end of their careers.

I will post more during the week on the Lions and Ireland's recent success in the Churchill Cup.


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