Blues vs Lions: Five things we learned

International
by Sam Phillips

The Blues shocked the world in upsetting the Lions 22-16 tonight.

Here's what we learned from the result.

1. Lions yet to fire a shot

The Lions have played 160 minutes and scored two tries.

It's a basic stat that lays bare the shortage of attacking firepower in this team.

They have players capable of breaking games open but they haven't been given licence to play the kind of rugby which allows them to do so.

The attack is very structured, very predictable and simply not good enough to threaten Kiwi sides.

If the Crusaders are at full strength on Saturday, this could get ugly.

2. SBW passes test with flying colours

Sonny Bill Williams put on a show tonight. Photo: Getty ImagesThis match was billed as an All Black audition for Sonny Bill Williams and he was one of, if not the best, player on the ground.

He scored a quick thinking try to put the Blues in front at half time and produced one of his trademark offloads to send Ihaia West streaking away for the winner.

His defensive prowess was similarly on show, as he won three turnovers and led the Blues with several solid hits.

While his physicality is always top notch, its his ability to read the play on the defensive end which is a real eye catcher.

3. Set piece holds up

The Lions set piece was rock solid against the Blues. Photo: Getty ImagesThere were positives from this Lions performance.

If you eliminate Rory Best overcooking the most crucial lineout throw of the match, the lineout was perfect.

The rolling maul was the source of their only try for the night and the scrum won several penalties in tight situations.

That will hold them in good stead if they are able to generate some sort of threat in attack.

4. Gatland struggles to find best XV

Warren Gatland's selection headaches will quickly turn into migraines after tonight.

This was an an entirely different starting XV to the one that fell over the line against the Barbarians and there were only a handful of players that put forward a positive case for selection down the track.

Joe Marler made his presence felt when he came off the bench, while Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes look to be leaders in defence.

James Haskell and CJ Stander added go forward but Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar failed to impress, though Biggar was forced from the field with a head knock late in the first term.

Leigh Halfpenny is a star but Jack Nowell was the only other back that caught the eye.

5. Australians know this feeling...

Ihaia West scored a brilliant match winner. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Australian shortcomings against New Zealand Super Rugby sides has been very well documented this year.

There would have been a few Australian coaches watching on with a smile as West dived over for the winner.

The Australian teams, with the exception of the Brumbies, have all been poor this year but this Blues win shows just how good the Kiwis are.

Join the discussion

Advertisement