By The Spotter
If that performance against the NZ Provincial Baa-baas last night isn’t going to count as the Lions’ worst tour performance, then surer than yet another moronic tweet from that dunce in charge of the US, they are in SERIOUS trouble. Plainly speaking, they were just about bloody awful. Listless, boring and (to coin a good Kiwi-ism) weak as piss. Bear in mind that not a single player out there in a Baa-baas jumper has ever got anywhere near an All Blacks call-up and almost all have never played a single second of Super Rugby.
The Lions arrived ridiculously late to this country and there was some irony in that, because they were even later to some of those breakdowns, especially in the first quarter. And their scrum was a disaster. To qualify that- the calibre, supposed power and experience of their eight were facing a scratch opposition containing personnel with even quite limited Mitre 10 Cup exposure. For the Lions not to have shoved them all over Toll Stadium was frankly, embarrassing. If their coaching staff aren’t even a little mortified about that, they sure as heck should be.
All the plaudits out of the game belong to the Barbarians. Their openside flanker Lachlan Boshier made a magnificent nuisance of himself and completely outshone every Lions forward, except for their number eight, Faletau from Wales. It’s not unreasonable to state that wren’t it for the individual power, top-class ball-handling and metres gained by Faletau and England’s Ben Te’o, the Lions this morning would have been contemplating their first loss in a NZ opener since Mike Campbell-Lamerton’s insipid ‘66ers lost to Southland.
A coincidence that those two most explosive Lions individuals from the match are of South Pacific origin? Possibly not because the style Baa-baas teams traditionally adopt and did carry out as prescribed last evening is imbued in the way that the Pacific Island nations like to play the game- directly and with a great deal of athleticism. Coming Down Under from forward-grinding northern fixtures was likely always going to be a shock to the system for Gatland’s Brits.
Bryn Gatland was total class and he made Johnny Sexton look rather wooden. His cameo for the Blues against the Hurricanes in mid-April was duly noted- you could feel his assuredness from the stands on that occasion. Who can yet tell if he could out to be a great All Black, but if confidence is any guide to success, he should go damn close.
To continue on an earlier thread, if the Barbarians had had just a little more composure and hadn’t let the ball slip out of their hands on so many occasions like they were trying to manhandle an eel into a bucket and possibly that if Owen Farrell hadn’t made his appearance when he did, the Lions would have ended up ignominious losers (although a black mark against Farrell for missing a sitter of a penalty near the end).
If Warren Gatland had had it in his mind before yesterday that beating the All Blacks in the test series was going to be more difficult than an ascent of the Matterhorn, then his expedition plans have just been re-evaluated to Everest. The Lions will surely improve, but that needs to start immediately against the Blues on Wednesday. If they lose that one then get ready for some absolute Fleet Street blood-letting.