Lions derailed by Brumbies in Canberra
Lineout a mess as basics let the tourists down days ahead of the crucial first Test
Rory Best, the third Irish captain of the tour, didn’t have the most distinguished of starts; the Lions only winning one of his first four throws. When he located Ian Evans in the middle with his fifth throw, it set up a rolling maul which the Brumbies collapsed, but, astonishingly, Stuart Hogg hit the upright with the 20-metre penalty slightly to the right of the posts.
Best would begin to find his jumpers, although there was a second crooked throw, but gradually the threat of Ben Youngs around the fringes faded as the Lions struggled to achieve their customary quick ball.
Instead, it was the Brumbies who stretched the home defence with the speed of their recycling and width on their game. Kuridrani was a constant menace, his hard straight line at the outside centre channel, half-break (Shane Williams doing well to haul him down) and offload creating a two-on-one which openside Colby Faingaa couldn’t convert with his pass to Henry Speight under pressure from Rob Kearney.
Mogg missed a penalty from inside halfway before extending the lead to 8-0 when Seán O’Brien was adjudged to have held onto the ball on the deck, although as is typical of a French adjudicated ruck, there were about eight bodies on the ground.
The Lions needed something with the last play of the half, and Wade made it possible by reclaiming Hogg’s restart.
This time the they kept the shape through the phases until Peter Kimlin failed to stay on his feet and Hogg closed out the half by opening the Lions’ account. However, when Best opted to go to the corner off a penalty early in the second-half, his throw to Richie Gray was picked off by Kimlin and instead, after a strong carry by Sam Carter, O’Brien was penalised for not rolling away and Mogg made it 11-3; adding another when Ryan Grant was rightly called for foul play by touchjudge Jaco Peyper for pulling Scott Sio off a maul by the neck. Good breakdown work by O’Brien, earning a penalty for not releasing against Matt Toomua and Hogg trimmed the lead. Cue Warren Gatland’s decision to bring on the bench.
A new Lions frontrow had an immediate impact at their first scrum, and even more so at the next a few minutes later, but Hogg unluckily hit the post with the 45-metre penalty.