RAISE THE BAA! RUGBY UNION: LIONS TOUR TO NEW ZEALAND NEXT MATCH: AUCKLAND BLUES v THE LIONS WEDNESDAY, AUCKLAND, 8.35AM,Wyn Jones: We better wake up fast and treat every game like a cup final.
PROVINCIAL BARBARIANS 7
ALUN WYN JONES demanded the Lions treat their remaining games as cup finals after playing like lambs against the local Baa-Baas.
Up against a sheep farmer, a trainee nurse and the unheralded son of Lions boss Warren Gatland, Jones and his jet-lagged team-mates came perilously close to defeat.
Long before England wing Anthony Watson struck to spare their blushes, they were being mocked by fans in the capacity centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu tweeted: "A team of guys who have jobs and other professions to support their rugby, is leading a team of multimillion-dollar players!
"OMG. This is 2nd and 3rd division players. It's like Plymouth Albion leading the All Blacks at half-time!
His words, whilst blunt, spoke the truth. There is no tougher place to play rugby and the Lions had almost lost to the worst of the 10 teams lined up to play them.
"Every team we face down here treats it as a final and we " said Jones (right).
"We haven't been here for 12 years so we have a responsibility to do well and take things to the wire.
"It's not a case of incremental steps of improvement, we have to improve in each and every game in every department."
The Lions can legitimately point to the energysapping effects of jet lag. "A number of players are still trying to see the doctor to get a pill to get some sleep," reported Gatland.
They can claim too that on another day they would convert four golden chances they squandered on or around the opposition try line.
But they know they don't have time to play the excuse card. Not with Auckland next on Wednesday, followed by the Crusaders and the rest of the red-hot Kiwi Super Rugby franchises.
"We have a lot to work on," admitted Taulupe Faletau, the pick of the Lions. "We needed to keep hold of the ball, go through the phases and apply some pressure. We have got to be more patient and matches of Lions tours are notoriously awkward - sometimes due to lack of preparation time, others to the standard of opposition or injuries sustained.
In 2001 the Lions scored a opening-game century against Western Australia at the WACA and learned little or nothing about themselves.
Four years later they lost their talisman Lawrence Dallaglio to a very serious ankle injury against Bay of Plenty which forced him off the tour.
In 2009 only 12,000 turned up to see them make dreadfully hard work of another scratch select XV and in 2013 the Lions chose to play in Hong Kong and almost passed out in the oppressive humidity.
The challenge this time is more straightforward. Yes it requires a steeper learning curve but, as Faletau admitted: "Nothing should be insurmountable for the players we have out here."
Whether that's wishful thinking we'll know soon enough, with their next two fixtures shoehorned into the nex Lion next five days. The Lions must bare their teeth at scrum time, contest the air battle harder and make a better fist of preventing the opposition from bossing the breakdown.
These are pretty basic fix-ups for an experienced group such as this. But time is against them - and so, very soon, will be the world's best team.
Nobody said this tour would be easy - now everybody knows that to be true.
BARBARIANS: Try: Anderson-Heather; Con: Gatland.
LIONS: Try: Watson; Con: Farrell; Pens: Sexton, Laidlaw.
game in every the All A number of our players are still trying to get sleeping pills PICK OF THE LIONS Gave them go-forward with ball in hand and made heroic tackle to save a try. TAULUPE FALETAU B'BAAS LIONS 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 LAULALA VAKA FINAU SWEENEY REECE GATLAND STRATTON ROSS A-HEATHER JAGER GOODHUE MEWETT TUCKER BOSHIER DUNSHEA 7 7 7 7 7 8 7 6 6 6 6 6 6 7 6 HOGG WATSON JOSEPH TE'O SEYMOUR SEXTON LAIDLAW MARLER BEST SINCKLER JONES HENDERSON MORIARTY WARBURTON FALETAU 5 7 6 8 6 5 6 6 6 7 7 5 7 6 8 LIONS REPLACEMENTS: George (for Best, 49) 6, M. Vunipola (for Marler, 49) 6, Furlong (for Sinckler, 49) 6, Kruis (for Henderson, 49) 6, Tipuric (for Warburton, 66) 7, Webb (for Laidlaw, 57) 6 138.. Tackles . 121 21Missed Tackles ..13 123.. Carries..125 372 ..Metres . 401 13.Defenders Beaten21 3Clean Breaks.13 7 .. Offload.13 27.Kicks from Hand20 8 .. Turnovers Conceded . 8 9 Penalties Conceded ..11 0Yellow Cards0 0Red Cards..0 10 of 10..Scrums Won .. 11 of 11 17..Lineouts Won..5 2 .. Mauls Won . 4 46 .Possession% 54 49 Territory% 51 HOW THEY RATED
Bay next nex ONE JOB TO DO Watson scores for the Lions against the part-timers of the NZ Provincial Barbarians
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Jun 4, 2017|
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