Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


British & Irish Lions 9 – 27 South Africa: 2nd Test

British & Irish Lions' players warming up before a training session
2021 British & Irish Lions Tour To South Africa British & Irish Lions Squad Training, Jersey, United Kingdom 17/6/2021 Alun Wyn Jones Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Once the hurly-burly and the hour-long rants of Rassie Erasmus – akin to that of a Qanon member accusing Tom Hanks of being a paedophile – was done, the World Champions levelled the series against the tourists with a stomping 2nd half performance.

Within 90secs, Mako Vunipola – starting in place of Rory Sutherland – conceded an early penalty for not rolling away around the halfway line, which went to touch deep in the Lions’ 22.

The South African maul didn’t make much inroads but with the ball deemed unplayable the Boks were awarded the scrum put-in, and the first bout of fisticuffs broke out. Colossal locks Alun-Wyn Jones and Eben Etzebeth got a hold of each other, and the Lions’ captain seemed to have a lot to say.

The Bokke were awarded a free-kick at the scrum 10m which they took quickly, and Scottish debutant Chris Harris showed why he was brought in when he smashed Lukhanyo Am to the deck, but a few phases later Maro Itoje entered a ruck at the side. Handre Pollard slotted over the shot at goal.

Dan Biggar levelled the scores when South African no:8 Jasper Wiese was penalised for a no-arms tackle, and then the Lions managed to hold South Africa out after some good scramble defence from Duhan van der Merwe pushed the show-stopping, side-stepper, Cheslin Kolbe inside where he was thumped by Jack Conan.

Kolbe was slightly fortunate to both not be penalised or sparked out when he bounced his face off the much larger Tom Curry’s, but Lions already had penalty advantage for

Pollard missed a relatively easy shot at goal to level the scores and then suffered another blow when 2019 World Player of the Year, Peter Steph Du Toit, left the field injured, but then took a win when Duhan was yellow-carded for a trip on Kolbe.

The Bokke’s entry ticket to the Lions 22 was ripped up when their line-out was pinched, and when the Lions tried to work their way upfield, fisticuffs round 2 broke out when Kolbe recklessly clattered into Conor Murray as he leapt to claim a cross-kick, so Kolbe joined Duhan for a 10min go on Candy Crush. (Other time-wasting mobile games are available.)

Pollard levelled the scores when Stuart Hogg, who was covering the left-wing defensiely with Duhan off the field, got caught and Robbie Henshaw fouled at the breakdown, then the action shifted back towards the South African try-line.

A penalty well within Biggar’s kicking range went to touch as they knew Duhan was coming back on to make it 15-14. Etzebeth nicked the line-out but was snaffled behind the try-line by the relentless Maro Itoje. Advantage Lions again.

Robbie Henshaw was denied a try by Siya Kolisi brilliantly knocking the ball out the ball out his hand as he claimed Biggar’s up n under, but Biggar had rolled the dice with penalty advantage, so the potential 7-pointer became a 3-point gain for the Lions.

Over an hour after the match had kicked off, the half-time whistle finally blew.

Half-time: B&I Lions 9 – 6 South Africa

The home side claimed the first try of the match within 5mins of the restart, when Tadhg Furlong got penalised at the scrum.

They went to the right touchline, and after an aerial bomb which Hogg failed to claim, Pollard went across again when space was created for Makazole Mapimpi to take with ease and score his 15th international try.

Mapimpi then managed to clear the Lions to halfway and keep South Africa in the lead when Biggar hit the post with a penalty effort, a huge let-off for the hosts.

As with last week, this was “game on” territory, but could the Lions do what they did last week and dominate the last quarter?

Rory Sutherland, Ali Price and Owen Farrell came on, but just when they did so, Anthony Watson – who had been anonymous and left the aerial-bombs for Hogg – was penalised, and from the resulting penalty the Sprinkboks went back to their bread and butter.

They kicked to touch, mauled the face off the Lions to within a few metres, and with advantage went skywards from Pollard. Am applied downward pressure on the ball to score from De Klerk’s cheeky right-footed grubber between the Lions defensive line.

The budgie-smuggling scrum-half then injured his hip leading to Herschel Jantjies coming on, but cheap penalties conceded at mauls allowed the Boks to continue their charge up the field, and then another scrum pen gave Pollard the chance to make the score 21-9. He had missed a couple previously, but not this time.

The Bokke “Bomb Squad” had come on, and although it needed a pack reshuffle, the power kept on coming through at the set-piece.

Whether it was Suzz or Sinckler, the Lions were being penalised, and Pollard stroked the ball through the sticks again.

And yet again, the Saffir stand-off struck after another scrum penalty was conceded, which allowed the Boks to run away with this one on the scoreboard.

The second half got away from the Lions, through a combo of being dominated at the set-piece, being dreadful in the air, and indiscipline playing into the Bok’s hands and gameplan.

And would we genuinely have wanted it any other way? Well, aye it’d be less stressful but this is the essence of a Lions tour.

“Your Everest” awaits these new Lions in the 3rd Test. The less nonsense talk in between – the attempted mind games which would make Sir Alex Ferguson chuckle at their pettiness –  the better the game will be for it.

Referee: Ben O’Keefe (NZRU)

SRBlog Player Of The Match: He’s doing the double. Captain Sh*thouse, the scourge of the breakdown who gets away with murder in a fashion only Richie McCaw could equal: Maro Itoje. Kept the Lions competitive even when it looked like the game was getting away from them.

Scottish Lion Of The Match: Chris Harris didn’t have to do a lot to win this, but that smash on Am and a generally error-free showing compared to the others gets it.

75 Responses

  1. Pretty disillusioned with Lions rugby after that match. Just about the most negative game plan I’ve ever seen from a team I’ve supported played in the midst of a toxic atmosphere between the teams and on social media. We seem to have given up any pretence of actually playing rugby. I think between them the wings may have been passed the ball once in the whole game. Literally nothing to get excited about and an unedifying spectacle off it, I’m glad I will be on a remote island with no tv during the third test.

    1. Veeeery disillusioned with he Saffa bullshizz factory. A step above the 2017 Kiwis in that regard.

      Hogg accused of biting, with no evidence other than “face went near arm” during a scrap.

      Itoje did lean on de Allende, but has anyone looked at what the likes of Mbonambi, Etzebeth, Mostert and Weise were doing, never mind de Allende himself ? No shortage of cheap shots, grapples and so on from that crew.

      Did any of their tight 5 enter a ruck on their feet more than once? Human scud missiles.

      Their wee men Kolbe and de Klerk showed more intent than technique in the tackle too, both would have got cards if they’d been forwards.

      Unusually, this week I’ve not just lost respect for a team or coach but an entire national system. Not quite the nation itself, yet, but let’s not forget they (allegedly) food poisoned New Zealand for the RWC win in ’95. Never mind either the systemic drug abuse in youth rugby.

      Caveat: As noted Lions served up unimaginative pish that played into their hands and probably wouldn’t have won a test against any of the top 5.

      1. If you look at the whole clip going through after the alleged event, it is a bit shameful.

    2. I agree the wings never got the ball, as I recall Hogg came into the line twice, SA just drifted us and he ran out of space to bring them into the play. They really had worked us out.

      Enjoy the remote island. You are unlikely to miss much as your favourites (and mine) are likely to be missing , however I hope you get the papers to keep up with the quotes.

  2. Some of the Lions players really exposed themselves there. Got lucky last week in truth. If the gameplan dictates there is no real prospect of Hoggs and especially DVDM getting the ball in hand then why pick them, the bomb diffuser Williams is a better bet. Also, Curry is a dud, unreal Mish can’t even make the bench. Gatland was 0-0-8 in super rugby last year, sack him and bring in Eddie Jones for the decider.

    1. Oh get ready for the backlash: You are about to get all the Hogg fans telling you that he only dropped one in the first test.

      1. Think he dropped one but also got turned over 2/3 times after taking ball in the air from pish poor ruck clear out from the supporting players. I’d still rather him over ‘bomb defuser’ Liam Williams who I’m pretty sure has dropped or knocked on at least 4/5 high balls across the tour.

      2. Nomad: I hope you are right we do get to see Hogg in action yet again.I suppose you think he was just unlucky. Fair enough!

      3. Some were more unlucky than others and there is a good reason for that, they have flaws and the boks knew it. If they can see it, why are we blinded.

  3. That game was uterly depressing and not because the Lions lost. Gatland is an absolute dinosaur as his Chiefs results this year confirm. Question is why is Townsend there. Picking up brownie points so he can coach the next tour. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on the assumption he is not advocating the mindless kick and chase tactics adopted in both tests so far as the Lions sole attacking option. Which also begs the question if that is the tactic why pick players like Hogg who are clearly not suited to it.

  4. I can see Gatland picking his trusted players who played in the decider against NZ four years ago thinking they will deliver the goods again. All the predictions that the Lions would try and beat the Boks using speed, a mobile back row and dragging them around the park haven’t exactly come to pass. If Gatland picks Murray and Biggar at 9 and 10 with Farrell on the bench again then it’s game over. I didn’t even notice Faletau after he came on but he’ll probably start at 8 next Saturday.

  5. Dawson’s column on the BBC site has the headline: “British and Irish Lions crying out for creative player”. Is it a call for Finn? Nope, not a single mention of Finn Russell in the article!

      1. Owen Farrell couldn’t create a mess in a midden. He’s the ultimate in enacting robotic systems.

    1. Well to be honest he doesn’t mention anyone? I think it’s gotta to be Finn. He is the only one here. I think gatland might well pick him. Whilst we are at it with the media that goon Jones ! Did Hogg steal his dinner??? He is so binary in his opinions Williams better not miss, or drop one ball

    2. Well to be honest he doesn’t mention anyone? I think it’s gotta to be Finn. He is the only one there. I think gatland might well pick him. Whilst we are at it with the media that goon Jones ! Did Hogg steal his dinner??? He is so binary in his opinions Williams better not miss, or drop one ball

  6. I’m just going to repost my comments from before the game, no surprises in this game at all.

    “anyway, I see the rational with the changes but i think it’s a mistake, overly cautious, sure playing wide early you get smashed a few times but what you don’t see is how much your taking out of the SA’s by moving them around and forcing them to maintain such line speed and counter rucking. SA using a 6-2 bench they will be coming hard all game and if you keep it slow and kicky you just play into their hands I think this could spell trouble. Gatland has stuck when he should have twisted, Finn should have been on the bench at least”.

    1. In my opinion the following now needs to happen.

      Select shortest front row. Due to the pitch cutting up the ground just gives under the taller guys.
      Jones, George, Sinkler.

      Beard in for Alun Wyn to improve lineout and counter maul.Second row Itoje and Beard.

      Rotate back row due to attrition.
      Bernie, Falatau, Watson.

      Half back for tempo and variety
      Price and Russel

      Centre Aki and Henshaw. Tried and trusted, defensively solid offers a crash ball and a wide pass.

      Back 3, I would go for Watson, Williams and Adams.
      It’s hard to justify any of the back 3 keeping their spot. But can’t say our guys haven’t had their chance and Adams in particular deserves a shot.

      Bench Vunipola, Cowan Dickie, Furlong, Henderson, Curry, Murray, Farrell, Daly.

  7. I guess Chris Harris will be an easy target for Gatland to drop. If Finn makes the bench as the final throw of the dice then I can see Henshaw moving to 13 and Farrell starting at 12. Some players are seemingly staying in the 23 regardless of how they are playing.

    I can see the backline being Murray – Biggar – Adams – Farrell – Henshaw – Williams – Hogg.

    I doubt Gatland would have been impressed with Duhan’s yellow card and I can see him dropping out. Hogg only keeps his place because Watson was even worse and Gatland might be reluctant to throw LRZ in there.

  8. Honestly dont get this obsession with the back 3 other than the fact the Welsh are seriously pissed off none of their boys have been picked and suddenly its a focal point. Games are won and lost in the forwards and half backs and the Lions got absolutely minced in those areas. The best form of defence is attack and the back 3 were picked for their offensive qualities. However when the ball never gets past 9 or 10 who constantly hoof it to the opposition the whole point of having an attacking back 3 disintegrates. Apart from Murray and Biggar who were absolutely rancid the second and back row never turned up. Thats why the game was lost not because the back 3 were pish. And on that topic while DVD and Hogg were pretty average Watson was absolutely dire. So I struggle to understand how he seems to have escaped criticism

  9. Very tough day at the office. Could have done with Ali on from the start and Mish at least on the bench. Stu and VDM had stinkers. VDM was a bit out of his depth and gave away needless penalties. I think Stu may have been found out, great on the front foot but poor under the high ball, misses tackles and his positional play is off especially under pressure. We have seen this at Exeter which is why he was dropped. I think Gregor has given him his long awaited Lions cap but Williams should take over as he is more rounded and secure. Adams for VDM. I cant see Fin getting a game as he is not good under pressure. Perhaps Aki to partner Henshaw? Wyn Jones to 1 and VP to bench.

    1. Best post for awhile here ..all you have to do is to look at Hoggs performance for in this year 2021 champions cup quarter where was badly exposed for his tackling and should have prevented 2 tries. He was outfield for a high ball in the 6 nations which led to a try.There is more to being a world class full back than running in 40 m tries

      1. This performance has been hidden in plain sight for years . We just refused to believe it.

  10. Pack needs to be sorted otherwise you can pick whoever you want at fullback we’ll still lose.

    1. Lets start with the obvious , it is hardly rocket science! Knock on under a high ball, scrum to SA, ball back, bomb. I think the morale dropped in the rest of the side, heads down ‘aw no again’. Hard to put your best in when there is an obvious problem .

  11. Mixing up the test side to give South Africa something they wont expect.

    Dan Biggar – Louis Reese Zammit – Stuart Hogg – Robbie Henshaw – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Sam Simmonds – Hamish Watson – Tom Curry – Tadhg Beirne – Maro Itoje – Zander Fagerson – Jamie George – Wyn Jones

  12. Sam Warbuton’s starting 15 for the final test:

    1. Vunipola 2. LCD 3. Furlong 4. Itoje 5. AWJ 6. Navidi 7. Curry 8. Faletau 9. Murray 10. Biggar 11. Adams 12. Aki 13. Henshaw 14. Watson 15. Williams

    1. Studiously avoiding any Scottish involvement, I see. This team would serve up the same hoof it up rubbish as last Saturday. I will not be watching if this is the team.

      1. I would watch it hoping the back 3 Muller it dropping the ball and missing tackles and, basically, really bad so I can sit back and read how pure dead brill they were

    2. For guys who played at the top level of the game your average pundit Is incapable Of hiding their nationalistic bias. Their selections are absolutely brutal. Many if not most have Murray starting and no scots in the team. Too many head injuries I’m afraid.

  13. I was looking forward to a Lions series that Scotland had some interest in, but just before the culmination of the series, which should be peak excitement I’m over it. The constant berating of Scottish players by other Lions fans, the ultra-conservatism of tactics by both sides, the utterly toxic online environment between Lions and SA fans and the total disregard of any class or sense of responsibility by the SA coaching team in targeting the refs – if this is what modern Lions rugby is all about I hope this is the last tour, it won’t be missed by me.

    Also, I hope any suggestion of SA joining the 6N is quietly shelved.

    1. Not sure it’s what modern Lions rugby is all about. Trolling and online hate is getting worse and is a problem especially in the UK. Have a look at the comments section on any news or sports article on the BBC website. Most of the comments are filled with hate and disrespect – mostly nationalistic or politically motivated. If the stadiums were full I’m sure that most Lions fans would get along with each other just fine as been the case on previous tours.

      1. Agreed. And much of it comes out of Wales, imho.
        Don’t know how the game got to this point but it is a concern. What fans would pay to watch that?

  14. I can see little argument for starting Hogg, VDM or Watson based on Saturday, Sutherland was a bit of a liability as well to be honest.

    South Africa don’t play a style of player that produces great running Rugby from either side when at their best, as they have been for a while now, there are things that are, and things that should be, brutal reality is Adams and Williams probably do have a better skillset to deal with the game they play than Hogg or VDM, more so given how the Lions are attacking, it is a waste of time playing the two of them.

  15. Hogg had his worst game for a long time. I defended him after last week as he only missed one high ball in the first test, but I think he missed 4 from 5 on Saturday. His defensive positioning wasn’t great and, although not really his fault, the game-plan didn’t suit him – the lack of ball getting past Murray never mind Biggar. Neither Watson nor DVDM has done enough over the last two tests to retain their place. In fact the opposite is probably true.
    I hate to agree with the WalesOnline trolls but probably time for Williams-Adams-LRZ to be given the chance.
    Along with most of us, I do feel it’s time to mix things up and not play the Boks at their own game (one out runners, box-kicking and garryowens). Let the boys play some rugby.
    I see no advantage in changing the front five, other than who starts and who’s on the bench, but I think Beirne and Watson offer more in attack (and defence) than Lawes and Curry. Simmonds should also be given a chance at 8, or at least off the bench.
    Price should start and if fit, Russell on the bench. If not then Marcus Smith.
    Henshaw-Harris was the only thing that worked reasonably well on Saturday, so both should start.

  16. What irks me is that the performances of some Lions players are not subjected to the same microscopic examination as those of, say, Hogg, vdM and Mish.

    So to redress the balance a little:

    Daly – the very definition of inept. Has a big boot and, er, that’s about it;

    Curry – a fine player but hasn’t shone;

    Murray – slower than a weekend with the mother-in-law;

    Biggar – good at what he does, but what he does is limited in scope and bereft of guile;

    A. Watson – in the same boat as vdM in terms of lack of service and consequent inability to do what he’s good at; possibly been a little poorer than vdM defensively;

    Farrell – see Biggar, above;

    Front five – done well at times but came unstuck in the second half last Saturday.

    If the Lions are going to turn it round on Saturday, the forwards need to at least achieve parity with the Boks. If they don’t then it’ll be a long afternoon for the men in red. If, however, the forwards can provide a decent platform then there has to be a greater emphasis on putting the ball through the backs’ hands.

    1. The TV pundits / commentary team are really poor. There is nothing to talk about and they are not doing it well. There are much better out there, just not with Sky.

      Being objective, our lads did stand out , for all the wrong reasons on Saturday. As any player knows, it can be hard to get momentum , when so many mindless errors creep in. If we could have retained the ball, they would have committed penalties, but we couldnt even do that.

      1. We didn’t even try to retain the ball. Biggar passed 3 times in the whole game. Between them VDM and Watson received one pass.

        I think it is odd that a total team collapse is being laid at the door of two players in the back 3. The back 3 did not perform well but almost all the kicks were contestable and challenged by multiple boks blocking and trying to just get finger tips to slap the ball back – exactly as we did in first test. It ain’t pretty but it is effective. I doubt Williams and Adams will do much better but I guess we’ll see. Either way it wasn’t Hogg and VDM’s fault we lost at the breakdown, at scrum and line out and didn’t even attempt to do anything positive with the ball in hand. We were well beaten all over the field.

      2. Like I said, It is hard to gain momentum when it is so obvious we are being undermined by the inability of the back three to take high ball. Those who have Played know what I mean. Hogg was poor and they just showed him up for what he is, a very poor defender and for a 15 , that is not good enough. End of discussion.

      3. That is just nothing to do with the back three. If anything, if we’re struggling to manage when the Boks put it in the air it’s a bigger incentive for us to hold possession and not give it away so cheaply. Last week, when we held possession we won penalties but on Saturday we did everything to avoid having to play with the ball.

        We didn’t even change our kicking strategy, keeping kicks infield and inviting SA to kick it back to us instead of kicking it off the park and trying to disrupt their set piece.

        It’s funny how the mantra was ‘forwards win games, backs decide by how much’ until Saturday. Both front rows got pulverised, we lost the breakdown battle and our halfbacks were totally bereft of ideas and stuck rigidly to a plan that’s as inviting pressure. But the entire blame for the loss falls on Hogg and VDM (who did play poorly). I don’t buy it.

      4. It amazed me that the same so-called commentators appear on TV to cover rugby games, wither this Lions series or Six Nations. There seems to be an old pals act going on, leavened with a dash of PC thinking. In any sport, former players rarely make the grade, at broadcasting, and some of the current bunch shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a microphone. Xenophobia and drivel from the studio team add nothing to the spectacle.

      5. CSC who in particular out of interest?

        Sky are pretty trash, Greenwood, Owens and Warburton it just doesn’t work, and all gets weird.

        I actually quite enjoy ROG, can see why he is a bit Marmite but his general game analysis is pretty excellent.

        Always find Rugby analysis pretty excellent these days personally, Premier is generally pretty good, BT sport is outstanding I find in general

        Would be curious to know who you were meaning there.

  17. No point in playing Hogg and DVDM if that’s how we are going to play!
    On the other hand if Gatland decides to focus on attack and ,say,starts or benches Russell than you certainly want at least one of them there so be ironic if both are dropped for Saturday.
    Appalling spectacle on so many levels. Game crying out for some running rugby whether its Le Roux and Kolbe or Hogg and DVDM.Come on somebody you can do better!

    1. Hogg did get the ball twice when he came into the line, there was no way through , but instead of finding support, he went it alone, he got stopped , no support (isolated himself), had to hold it on the floor, penalty bok,kick to red zone, line out won, score.

      It is easy to be critical when spectating, they were good, we were overwhelmed, no ones fault, it is a team game , but there is not difficult to admit what has happened and accept the consequences, is it ?

    2. It would be typical if Russell started this weekend but Gatland drops Hogg and VDM – the very players who would thrive playing with a FH who can bring them into the game. That said, no complaints if Hogg and VDM do sit this one out.

      What I have noticed about Biggar is that everything he does is low risk and geared towards not making any mistakes. He doesn’t do dinks over the top, grubbers, kick passes, snipes & offloads. He hasn’t even tried to gather his own kicks in the last two tests. All he does is an up and under hoping that one of his team mates will catch it or tap it backwards. Is it to avoid getting any criticism after games? Toonie must be pulling his (proverbial) hair out. He must be itching to start Price and Finn but clearly Gatland has decided on Murray and Biggar.

  18. Biting : I do not believe that , looks odd, but I suspect just keeping his head close to avoid a stray swinging arm.

  19. The back 3 in Rugby often have to be what the opposition want them to be, or decide they are going to be,

    SA decided Lions back 3 had to deal with high balls and contestable kicks, they didn’t and gave away an absolute bucket load of territory.

    SA went right after it,

    It got demoralizing and awkward watching it and poorly it was being dealt with.

  20. FF: I dont agree with you at all. If the back three , (Hogg in particular) had held the ball, the boks would have needed another answer to ariel kicks and the forwards would not have needed to scrum.

    In terms of line out the Lions forwards held their own. I do not get your lack of knowledge on the basics of the game but do like your old cliche’s. Keep them comming .

    1. Maybe the old saying should be “Forwards win you games, backs lose them”.
      Not that I’m biased or anything.

    2. Your answer isn’t very coherent – I wasn’t talking about the back three holding the ball, it was invariably Murray and Biggar kicking the ball.

      In the second half we stopped even contesting the line outs to defend the SA mauls being driven off them. We lost the set piece battle badly.

      I think it’s really sad how many fans want to explain results by choosing targets to scapegoat. It’s also pretty sad how any discussion online is so toxic, even here where everyone is supporting the same side.

      1. FF: I think it is coherent. It is a simple game, you are trying to complicate it. Oval ball , pass it back, if you fumble it , do it backwards not forwards.If you drop it a lot, you are letting the team down and they will lose confidence in you and not play as well as they could if you were not having an off day.

        Whatever plan the lions had , was compromised by poor basics. As Mike Tyson says, ‘plans are fine till the other guy lands you a punch in the mouth’. They had no plan B and poor leadership as well.topofthemoon and the papers wont help when you are faced with the opposition.

        There is no need to accuse people of whatever , there is no right or wrong answers, just different opinions. Most are sad as we know we these guys can do better but based on what we saw, they may be asked to give someone else an opportunity. Test experience in the Scotland camp moves us on as a team. Being stood down for basics, is not good IMO.

  21. I kind of feel the Lions bottled their plans at the start of the tour. It seemed like everything was going to be about a mobile game with a fast attack which can test the Boks. The squad seemed to have been picked for that. Its how they played in the warmups and even selected the team for the first game.

    Then they sort of accidently won the first game as the Boks had a bad day at the office with average box kicking and only normal levels of physicality. So they go with a plan of maybe playing slow box kicking, but with a team built for another game plan.

    The Boks shake the rust off and get much better at doing what they have done since 2018, and the Lions got found out. Beasted at set piece, smashed at ruck time and butter fingers at the back. Its like Scotland 2005 to 2015.

    The way to win is be brave. But they wont, they will take them on again and lose.

    1. I agree. @topofthemoon crunched data on passing stats by Dan Biggar –

      Passes made by Dan Biggar for Wales in Six Nations:

      v Ire – 21 (in 80 mins);
      v Sco – 15 (49);
      v Eng – 8 (45);
      v Ita – 29 (51);
      v Fra – 31 (68);
      Average – 28 per 80 mins.

      Passes made by DB for Lions v Springboks:

      1st Test – 13 (67);
      2nd Test – 3 (58);
      Ave – 10 per 80

      That so clearly a strategic decision and it leads to a brand of rugby that is rank rotten. It’s also a bit odd trying to out-Bok the Boks, particularly when you haven’t really chosen the personnel to do it. If only Gatland could be dropped?

      Maybe the Lions will hoof and thug their way to a ‘historic’ win in the third test. I really couldn’t give a **** anymore.

      1. Metres made by the Lions in the 2nd Test:

        From kicks – 772m;
        From carries – 105m.

        Scotland average 422 metres carried per match under Gregor Townsend.

      2. 3 passes from 10 is an absolutely ridiculous stat.
        People complaining the rest of the backline didn’t do anything in attack need to take a good long look at this….

      3. Even more ridiculous when you consider how often Murray kicked it too.

        It isn’t even as expansive as Warrenball which at least depended on dominating the gainline with a massive 12 and truckloads of forwards coming round the corner at rucks to wear down the defence. This is far more negative, not even attempting to keep the ball and beat the defence, just hoof it in the air and spoil their take as they did to ours.

      4. Well made point .6 N average is not really comparable is it. The sides are much more open to running rugby and it is easy to get the average up. Consider: against Italy, particularly this season past, skews the point just a wee bit, though it is still an interesting comparison , just not absolute.

  22. I haven’t seen anything in the tests that leads me to think that Toony is orchestrating the attack. You could see his influence in the warm ups but not the last 2 weeks. Whether this is because they were trying to fool the Boks into thinking they’d play a more open game, or that Gatland is now more afraid of losing than he is of taking a risk and winning, we’ll probably never know.

    However, the choice seems pretty straightforward to me. Either change things by playing a running, attacking and ball playing 10 and take it to the line in attack, or continue with Biggar and the no-pass turgid stuff we witnessed last Saturday, in the hope we can out-Bok the Boks.

    If the former, select Finn, if fit, at 10 (Smith if he’s not), Ali P at 9, Harris at 13, Watson at 7, Hoggy & DvDM in the back 3.

    If the latter, keep Biggar at 10, start Navidi at 7, Faletau at 8, Aki & Henshaw at Centre and the Welsh back 3 and let them get on with ‘fielding the bombs’ that will come in the hope that SA make a mistake this time. We can choose whether we want to watch another 2hr slug-fest or not.

    1. If continuing with Biggar and the kicking game, I will make no apologies for hoping SA stuff the Lions. The various press articles I’ve read all pinpoint the Scots as the weak link, no mention of poor tactics or rank average pack performance.

  23. The worse commentator by a mile is roberts I don’t see it as an English obsession.Anongst the Celtic countries their is definite rivalry. Roberts is smug and is full of sly comments.Criticisms of Harris , what about biggar! . We are not rated as both the others have six nations and grand slams in recent memory. I believe there is a thought that Scotland media darlings and toonie having too much say They both beat Scotland as well. Hogg was poor but he wasn’t alone. But we have to be honest here the scots in the squad have had opportunities, FInn aside. My fingers are crossed for him the weekend

  24. If I was Finn, or any other Scot, I’d hope I wasn’t selected. Can hear it now, Lions win because of Welsh back 3, Welsh pack and Daly let loose!! Lions lose because of “maverick” Russell.! No where to run to, we’re doomed..

    Getting more angry by the hour. Just read Maggie Alphonsi, give me strength.

    Odds on Scottish 6 Nations grand slam….

  25. Don’t get angry. Get even. Slam would be great . Not a million miles off I honestly think . It’s incredible really think about the last 2-3 tours not a sniff. I think Scotland will be represented in the 23. Fagerson gaurenteed ? Think sinkler screwed Also think POOP at breakdown in 2nd test Watson may start. Gatland is his own man and enjoys pissing off the media goons. Guess we will see tomorrow. What interests me about gatland is he always says we will have a long careful look. He is not welsh coach now . I would love to see Hogg Williams and adams. !!! Imagine Hogg scoring the winning try We will know this time tomorrow

  26. Hopefully a chance. Just think of the last few tours. We are there now. The players , and coaches, will learn a lot . Like all these things occasionally there is pain. But 8 players all merited in my view , think about it Scots will be represented is snicker not screwed? Fagerson definitely on the pitch at some stage. Hopefully one or two others in 23. Gatland his own man. Won’t be listening to Maggie Alphonso er al.

  27. The blog has convinced me, we should start with Finn, see what SA make of him. Price should start, the cool test head of Murray made no difference last week.

  28. If we expect others to treat players equally we have to set a lead. I think they should drop Hogg and VDM. I always felt VDM was fortunate. He is a ball in hand player not a kick chasing winger. And Hogg had a mare on Saturday, lets be honest. If he did that in blue….

    But they also need to freshen up the pack as its not worked. Give Mish or even Navidi a chance in there. Or both.

    Probably best we can actually hope for however is some handbags on 70mins and there in the middle , in all his glory is Zander shoving Lood De Jager with a beaming smile on his face. (wishing somebody would shout 99)

  29. I have to admit that I’m not seeing all the anti-Scottish bias in the press. Is everyone on this blog just reading the comments section of various sites?
    Mostly I have read that the whole back three were error-prone and ineffective. Got to agree with that.
    Hogg and DVDM had awful games (and hardly set the world alight in the first test). So dropping them seems fair. Similarly Antony Watson.
    I have also read that the replacement front-row didn’t perform – not just Sutherland. Vunipola struggled at the scrum but performed well in the loose. Rory didn’t even do that. If Wyn Jones is fit he’ll be playing, but if not we’ve got to hope these two up their game.
    Most pundits (even English and Welsh ones, if not Irish) would rather see Ali Price starting than Murray.
    Those picking Daly or Aki over Harris admit that this would be unfair to the Scot, given he hasn’t really put a foot wrong. So I’d dismiss those comments.
    Curry has also been named as someone who hasn’t really performed and (I quote) “it’s time the player of the 6N was given a chance to start”.

    I’m pretty sure Gatland won’t be reading the press, or listening to any podcasts for advice. He may not even be listening to Toonie, McBryde and Tandy, but that is more likely.
    My team
    Wyn Jones (if fit, Sutherland if not), LCD, Furlong, AWJ, Henderson, Itoje, Watson, Simmonds;
    Price, Biggar, Adams, Henshaw, Harris, LRZ, Williams;
    Owens, Vunipola, Fagerson, Beirne, Navidi, Murray, Russell, Daly.

    1. Jones, LCD, Furlong
      Jones, Beirne
      Itoje, Faletau, Watson
      Price, Russell
      Henshaw, Harris
      Adams, Williams, Zammit
      I’d like to see Hogg on to score the winner from a Russell chip though.
      Fingers crossed on Finn’s fitness and Gatland’s balls.

  30. Agree with the points you make. Personally the thing with comments on forum pages, blogs and comments sections in papers etc are ignore them they mean nothing.

    As far as professional media, pundits It might not be explicit but for instance Oliver slot in the times singled out Hogg quoting his shocking performance against SA A. When he was self-isolating and not even playing!

    I get the impression the only individual named players for mistakes and poor performances are scots. How bad was biggar at the weekend? Who played well on Saturday? Owens came on and was absolutely shocking ! But it’s Sutherland who gets name checked.

    Massive story re Hogg and alleged biting. Factual two lines about sinclker. I don’t want to appear Oliver stone like ! I appreciate I may. Absolutely you are right about the performances of Hogg and VDM 100%. But no other countries individual poor performance seem to be highlighted. That may be my ultra – sensitive attenna I don’t know Just hope FInn gets a chance now, I believe he might

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