Preview: Wallabies v. British & Irish Lions - Second Test - Green and Gold Rugby
British & Irish Lions

Preview: Wallabies v. British & Irish Lions – Second Test

Preview: Wallabies v. British & Irish Lions – Second Test

What a difference a week makes! The Wallabies had their hopes crushed with a last minute slip on the Lang Park surface. The Lions  lost their outstanding lock with Paul O’Connell breaking his arm. Mike Phillips jogged his way out of the 23. Israel Folau increased his earnings potential a billion times with an outstanding debut. James Horwill was charged with stamping, cleared and then recharged when the IRB appealed against its own ruling! Oh, and Australia has a new Prime Minister.

Big Changes!

The Lions

POC - gone

POC – gone

Both Teams have shuffled the deck. Warren Gatland has tweaked a winning side with forced and unforced changes. Alex Corbisiero loses his loosehead spot to Makovina Vunipola after succumbing to a calf strain. As mentioned Paul O’Connell is out of the series and is replaced by Geoff Parling. Parling is no mug but O’Connell’s loss is a huge blow to the visitors while the inclusion of Vunipola will weaken the scrum. Dan Lydiate has replaced Jamie Heaslip at blindside flanker in a move that seems to be aimed at competing at the break down and playing a wider game.

Assuming that Mike Phillips isn’t injured his tepid display has seen him leave the squad completely. Ben Youngs is starting the match with Conor Murray the new reserve half. While they’ll miss the bulk Phillips brought to the game both match day halves bring a lot of pace to the ruck area and should speed up the game considerably. After scoring a sensational try Alex Cuthbert has lost his spot to Tommy Bowe who returns from hand surgery after only 35 days.

The Lions seem weaker in the scrum. Strong in the lineout. A mobile forward pack. More lively in the halves but still powerful in the backline. They seem to be setting up to play a wider game and maybe take advantage of the perceived defensive frailties of the Australians at ruck time.

The WallabiesO'connor passing to no one with Adam Ashley Cooper

The good news for the Wallabies is that they’ve named an unchanged forward pack and have even been able to name the same forward reserves. It’s in the backs that the disastrous injury toll from last week’s match clearly shows. Digby Ioane and Pat McCabe are gone for the series. Berrick Barnes has concussion… again! And may or may not be available for the third Test. Kurtley Beale moves into the fullback spot to replace Barnes. After barely playing a match in four months I wonder if Beale has the fitness to last a whole test. He is ably covered by Jesse Mogg on the reserves bench, though. In-form Brumbies winger Joe Tomane replaces Ioane in a like-for-like switch. Tomane has been in great form and shouldn’t feel out of place in this side. Rob Horne has replaced McCabe on the bench. Horne’s Super Rugby form suggests that he probably should have had the spot last week but he’ll get another chance this week to prove he is a test- standard centre.

The Wallabies relied heavily on Will Genia last week. ‘Flyhalf’ James O’Connor spent much of last week watching Genia run the show and I can’t see much changing this week. The inclusion of Beale will allow him to move to the wider channels that he prefers more often and that could work in the Wallabies’ favour.

THE TEAMS

AUSTRALIA

  1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
  2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies)
  3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies)
  4. Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs)
  5. James Horwill (c) (Queensland Reds)
  6. Ben Mowen ( Brumbies)
  7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs)
  8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs)
  9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds)
  10. James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels)
  11. Joe Tomane (Brumbies)
  12. Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies)
  13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs)
  14. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
  15. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels)

    REPLACEMENTS

  16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds)
  17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds)
  18. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
  19. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
  20. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds)
  21. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels)
  22. Rob Horne  (NSW Waratahs)
  23. Jessie Mogg (Brumbies)


BRITISH & IRISH LIONS

  1.  Makovina Vunipola (Saracens / England)
  2. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers – England)
  3. Adam Jones (Ospreys – Wales)
  4. Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys – Wales)
  5. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers / England)
  6. Dan Lydiate (Dragons / Wales)
  7. Sam Warburton (c) (Cardiff Blues – Wales)
  8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster – Ireland)
  9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers / England)
  10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster – Ireland)
  11. George North (Scarlets – Wales)
  12. Jonathan Davies (Scarlets – Wales)
  13. Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster – Ireland)
  14. Tommy Bowe (Ulster / Ireland)
  15. Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues – Wales)

    REPLACEMENTS

  16. Richard Hibbard (Ospreys – Wales)
  17. Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors / Scotland)
  18. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers – England)
  19. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers / England)
  20. Sean O’Brien (Leinster / Ireland)
  21. Conor Murray (Munster / Ireland)
  22. Owen Farrell (Saracens – England)
  23. Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues / Wales)

THE DETAILS

This match kicks off at Etihad Stadium Melbourne, at 8.00pm.

These teams have met twenty-one times, the Lions winning on sixteen occasions, the Wallabies five.

The game will be telecast live on Network Ten, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Sports 2HD. There is also a live stream for News Limited digital subscribers.

The referee is Craig Joubert.

THE GAME BREAKERLeigh Halfpenny

This is a match full of game breakers! Robinson v. Jones, Genia v. Youngs, Ashley-Cooper v. O’Driscoll, North v. Folau, Sexton v. Genia/O’Connor/Beale/Leali’ifano. But frankly the guy with the outstanding ability that I think will break this test open for his side is Leigh Halfpenny! His goal kicking success rate for this tour is around 92 per cent! That’s virtually unheard of and of an enormous benefit for any team he plays for.

THE FEARLESS PREDICTION

Can I change that to fearful prediction? Look I’m biased. I’ll admit it openly. I’m going to back the Wallabies at the end of this paragraph! But I’ve got a bad feeling about the whole thing. By my reckoning we can take them in the forwards but the backs are a different story. We have guys in great form and we have other guys out of position or with little match fitness. Anything could happen.

Wallabies by six.

 

  • RJ

    Funny the IRB (Conveniently located in Dublin) only started to appeal rulings once Paul O’Connell got injured. Didnt see the I(rish)RB’s “duty to preserve player welfare at all levels of the game” untill thier own star lock was ruled out though injury. His stomp should have seen him take no part in this series.

    • Bok fan

      I lost faith in the IRB years ago. I just don’t see them as being completely impartial and independent.

      • Steve S

        Quote ‘ I just don’t see them as being completely impartial and independent’. And the ARU is ? the Union that had Deans on the citing panel that heard Horwills case !! get real , anyone with more than one eye could see that it was a deliberate stamp & the not guilty verdict should be reversed . People would have more respect for Horwill if he owned up rather than come up with some solicitor induced farcical excuse to get away with it.
        Lot of Myopic Aussies on here of course so doubt this post will go down well ! truth hurts.

        • Bok fan

          I guess I am a little bit one eyed because I am fervently supporting the Wallabies in this series (even though I’m South African), but having watched the video it really doesn’t seem obvious to me that it was a deliberate stamp, particularly because it looks like he’s not able to see where his foot would land as he has one of his own players blocking his line of vision.

          I’m probably wrong, but I just don’t really trust the IRB. They’ve made too many dodgy decisions over the years, particularly with regards to citings and defending poor referee performances and so on.

        • Sydney Sam

          Take a look at Horwill’s stamps on Cowan (Western Force) and Palmer (ACT Brumbies) if you want to properly review the face tap dancing technique of Horwill in 2013. He was mad to plead “not guilty”, given the IRB’s new appeal procedure and which they have already used once in the last 12 months. After controversial events on the 2001, 2005 and 2009 (Burger, which you will remember) Lions tours, they were not going to tolerate ridicule of their disciplinary procedures on the 2013 tour.

        • Pedro

          If he plead guilty I doubt he would get less than two weeks. This way he gets to play the second match and gets suspended for 3 matches or so that carry less significance. It was hardly mad to plead not guilty he would’ve missed both remaining fixtures otherwise.

        • Sydney Tom

          He is now looking at much more than 2 or 3 matches. The s**t has hit the fan and the IRB are involved. He’ll be lucky if he can play at all in the 2013 Rugby Championship.

        • Pedro

          Yeah but if he plead guilty he wouldn’t be playing tonight or in Sydney. That was my point.

        • Patrick

          Is that the citing panel that cited him? Sounds pretty independent to me….

          THe ARU is appealing the independent judicial officer’s decision, not the citing panel’s decision to cite him.

    • DC

      PO’C’s kick wasn’t deemed a citable offence, and the IRB can’t appeal a non-cited offence.

      I would agree that PO’C should have been cited but that’s irrelevant now. The location of the IRB is equally irrelevant.

      • RJ

        Horwill’s wasn’t cited untill the Lions made it so. If the IRB can appeal like this, then the IRB can appeal the fact POC’s stomp wasn’t cited. WHy wasn’t it cited. A british citing commissioner obviously.
        How is the location of the IRB irrelevant? Are there mor irish or more Australian’s working on that panel that decided to appeal it? DOn’t be so naive

        • DC

          There are laws that govern these matters. Cited offences can be appealed, non cited offences can’t be appealed. The panel that made this decision wouldn’t have featured any British or Australian members. Dublin is just the HQ, no committee wouldn’t have more Irish members than any other nationality. The benefit Ireland receives is the admin,marketing, etc staff that are based there. There isn’t a conspiracy here.

        • DC

          PS. I’m not really sure why you’re bringing O’Connell into it. That incident happened at the start of April, even had he been cited and found guilty, given his excellent disciplinary record and the ambiguous question of intent, there is no way he would received longer than 4 weeks.

        • mxyzptlk

          Maybe everyone would be happier if O’Connell was also banned for the next game.

          Oh, wait…

        • mxyzptlk

          The appeal is being head by a Canadian — and everyone knows the Canadians can’t be trusted.

        • Canuckruck

          Ouch. Words hurt!

        • mxyzptlk

          You’re Canadian, you can take it.

        • misplacedcanuck

          tough by fair.

        • mxyzptlk

          Seriously, you guys had a solid showing at the Pacific Nations Cup this year, and I try to catch all of the Canadian 7s matches I can. And I grew up near enough to Ontario — you can’ tell me Canadians aren’t tough.

  • RJ

    Can we open up a can of scrummaging arse kicking on them? I think this team is better then last weeks, and I think the lions team is weaker. Match that with hopfully not losing 3 inside centres in a match (1 being our kicker) I think we’ll have the wood on them.

  • DC

    I like the changes Gatland has made. Sexton was excellent last week and has matured into the one of the best 10s in the world. Youngs should get him much quicker ball than last week. Hopefully last week will have enhanced the understanding between Davies BOD and they can life their game.

    Should be a good Test anyway. I just hope it isn’t settled by refereeing decisions.

    • Dan

      ‘Youngs should get him much quicker ball than last week.’

      Although I prefer Youngs to Phillips by a country mile, this Aussie pack are not the weaklings of (some) previous incarnations; I can see us struggling for parity at scrumtime and rucktime, and am concerned that Youngs might himself not get all that much clean ball.

      I also think he could do with losing 5kgs, based on last week. Although he scored a try, he didn’t look all that quick in so doing.

      I fear the Wallabies have this one by a score at least.

      • DC

        Yes, we could struggle in those areas. To be honest, I think the selection of Warburton as captain has slightly hindered us, he’s an excellent player but I don’t think he’s at his best at the moment and wouuldn’t be in the backrow on form at present. Though it was difficult to come up with alternative candidates, given the injuries PO’C and BOD seem to get alot these days.

        We’re also going to miss PO’C hugely, I rate Parling highly but PO’C has been playing some of his best rugby in years, on current form he’d be in a World XV. It also seemed last week that he was providing at least as much leadership as Warburton on field.

        Hmm, you’re after making me fearful now aswell!

        • Proud Welshman

          Warburton was the best back rower on the pitch in the first test, closely followed by Mower. I didn’t like the make up the back row before the match last week and the match did nothing to change my mind. Warburton was the captain of the most successful team in recent seasons in northern hemisphere rugby, while they were at their most successful and with Gatlands trust in him, he was always going to be one of the first names on the teamsheet and one of only a couple of players guaranteed to play.

          I think Ben Youngs starting over an injured Mike Phillips strengthens the team, but a fit Mike Phillips is a much better player and is a big loss for this game.

          The team has a little more balance in some areas this week, but the scrum looks very weak. I’d have given Sean O’Brien a couple of lessons on how to play loose head and given him the 1 jersey. He can’t be a much worse scrummager than young Mako at this stage of their careers ;OP

        • A. Fox-Russell

          Anyone notice a LOT more non-Wallaby supporters active on these blogs lately?

          Bloody good I say. Welcome.

          Unless you’re behaving like the guy on the Horwill issue on the other story. Read that and you’ll see who I mean. Tool.

  • DrHelmut

    I think you’ve got your analysis of the Lions picks wrong – they are setting up to play a tighter game, not wider.

    Lydiate has replaced Croft not Heaslip. Croft is quick (very quick) and has great hands, he’s at his best when running in the wide channels but he’s relatively slight and not a great breakdown man. Lydiate is the opposite – a pure lumberjack! He will play close to the breakdown and I probably be asked to man-mark Genia.

    Ben Youngs is quicker than Philips and can play an up tempo game but he’s also a better kicker and game manager which is why I think he’s got the nod.

    I think that Gatland is expecting this game to be tight so has picked a team to try and win the territorial battle. I expect the Lions to play absolutely no rugby in their own half, box kick a lot and look to force penalties through the quality of the chase.

    The weaknesses in the Lions?

    Definitely scrum – Vunipola has technical problems and has struggled whenever he’s played with Tom Youngs. In addition, there is no second row cover on the bench so if Alun Wyn-Jones gets injured early doors then Croft will join Parling and make up one of the least menacing 2nd row partnerships in Lions history.

    Lineout – although we one 12/12 last week Youngs does have off days, and when he’s bad, he’s very very bad. Croft will be a big loss at the lineout too and I expect Aussie to put more pressure on this weekend and force a few against the head.

    • Proud Welshman

      I’m worried about this game. As has been mentioned on here already, the Lions scrum looks pathetic this week. Not a good week for it to happen either as Joubert has shown in the past a liking for giving penalties at scrum time and the Aussies could be in for a number of shots at goal which I expect them to take better this week.

      Tom Youngs won’t be asked to do anything more in the lineout than he’s done in any of the games and that’s hit the front jumper. I expect the Aussies to compete for the ball on our line out, but he should be safe enough hitting Parling most of the time. Parling himself has proved very adept at stealing opposition ball at the line out and that could prove to be a strength for us.

      I agree that Lydiate will be in there to stop the line breaks around the fringes and I’m looking forward to seeing him and Warburton working as a pairing on the international stage again.

      I think the loss of Mike Phillips is a blow. He’s a real big game performer and was obviously carrying a knock last week, so probably the right thing to do in resting him and getting him back at somewhere near 100% for the third test.

      The make up of the team could change if certain players pick up a bump, especially early on Saturday. With Cuthbert and Farrell on the bench, if BOD or Davies get a knock with they bring Farrell in at 12 or put Cuthbert on the wing and move North into inside center. Bowe’s got experience in the centers as well. If Halfpenny gets a bump, then there’s no obvious replacement.

      I’d have Cole and Grant go out early and warm up on the touchline, have both pull up with a hamstring or achilles injury and play for non contested scrums……..only joking. Pre tour some Lions fans were saying we could win this in the set piece, now I’m thinking that it could be where the Aussies can target winning it.

    • mxyzptlk

      I’m wondering if Lydiate will be asked to do what Stephen Ferris did for Ireland against Australia in the World Cup — shut him down, give him no space, be a menace.

      It worked once.

    • BloodRed

      Nice counter analysis DrHelmut. I actually hope you’re right. Weak scrum. No lock reserve. Over reliance on kicking to a potent counter attacking back three. Sounds like Gatland has seen something he likes in the 2012 wallabies style.

    • Analysis? You should know me better! Happy to be proved wrong though.

  • Davy

    The game will be ruined by Craig Joubert, he is such a pedantic referee
    …unless he is refereeing the Kiwis in a World Cup Final.
    Be prepared for a penalty fest.

    • mxyzptlk

      Just remember, Joubert set a record for blowing penalties in the Scotland-Wales 6 Nations game this year.

  • mxyzptlk

    Any word why George Smith didn’t even make the bench after being called into camp?

    • BloodRed

      A player coming back from a serious injury who hasn’t played in 5-6 weeks being rushed straight back into a test match against heavy weight opposition certainly sounds like a Deans move. ……. Maybe Deans is starting to learn from what he has learnt from all of his learnings.

  • Robson

    Test matches are won or lost at the breakdown so there is just one element of the Wallabies game that MUST be improved if they are to win this test and that is at the breakdown. If they turn the ball over 14 times like they did in the first test, they will come second yet again. Fourteen turnovers = 14 lost opportunities to score. I call them lost opportunities to score because you must have the ball to score. So every time you give the pill to the opposition an opportunity is lost. I have no doubt that if the turnover rate is dramatically reduced the Wallabies will relax in Melbourne on Saturday night with the test series tied at 1 each.

  • Garry

    A New Zealand ref publicly critisised? That wouldn’t have happened under Paddy Obrien’s watch.

    What is the world coming to?

  • dsb

    The PM is not new just recycled.

    • Dead right! My mistake.

      • dsb

        minor matter. Maybe he might make a good 10?

        • bill

          If he passes the ball as well as he passes the buck….

  • Willy

    I have THE FEAR.

  • Canuckruck

    Scrum time…..I’m not sure that Adam Jones actually played to his full potential last weekend….. buried the Wallabies in first scrum and then parity after that? We have all watched Adam Jones almost single handedly provide the pillar to destroy opposing scrums. Do you think he might be holding something back? Waiting to strike back on a point of current Wallaby confidence?

    • bill

      I thought we were lucky Corb… tweaked his calf because we looked under pressure prior to that. Watching Ben R reeling out of the first and adjusting his headgear he looked like Jones had thrown a cat up his arsehole!

      • Patrick

        We were indeed lucky that Corbisiero tweaked his calf.

  • notgreatatstats

    The Wallabies had a lot of bad luck last week, starting with Lilo, highlighted by Hooper playing in the centres and ending with Kurtley Beale lying on his back thinking about grabbing a double Whopper with cheese.

    The Lions must be due for some bad luck…

    If the Lion’s luck bubble collapses on Saturday, I think we can expect George North to run into a goal post, falling backwards into Leigh Haypenny, knocking himself into a coma and tearing both cruciate ligaments in 1/2p. A short time later, I think O’Driscoll will have the massive stroke he’s due for (because he’s so old) and Bowe will re-injure his hand while pounding his fist into the ground while screaming at God for taking ‘poor sweet Brian.’

    Actually, I take that back about O’Driscoll, that one might actually happen.

    • A. Fox-Russell

      That extracted a chuckle from me. Played…

  • Russ the Muss

    Look, the bottom line is that we should be beating these guys. Wales are our bunnies, and the Poms in there don’t add a lot. Gatland is a maniac. We should be smashing them.

    Against us in this game are Mad Robbie Deans and Craig Joubert. I think we’re in trouble, and little things like the 4am incident and now Horwill might push things the Lions’ way. Bad Guys by 8.

  • MM

    Horwill mentioned elsewhere that he was cleared on the basis of 9 different camera angles, not the 1 that we’re seeing. Might be more egg on the face for the IRB.

  • Patrick

    as long as a brumby is kicking my tip is the wallabies by 20

  • bill

    Looking at the comments being made by Horwill in response to the IRB reaction to the NH witch hunt I think the Wallabies who , apart from the macca enthusiasts, were pretty focused to begin with are going to make the Lions regret their sly machinations. Whether that translates to the scoreboard I don’t know or care just go out there and fairly smash the shit out of them boys.

  • Sydney Tom

    It seems to me that we have to treat James Horwill’s problems just like Kurtley Beale’s problems. Pek Cowan, Dan Palmer and now Alun Wyn Jones and all within a few months. Serial head stamping is a major problem. He needs medical treatment and help before he blinds somebody on a rugby pitch. The disciplinary process is a sideshow, and the emphasis should be upon helping James Horwill overcome his demons.

  • redbull

    wallabies play one good game, then two or three shockers. Their good game was last week

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