So, a couple of big games have taken place since the last blog. The Lions have played the Maori All Blacks and the Chiefs. And won! In addition to this, last night the squad for the first test was announced to much fanfare and there have even been some new additions to the squad.
The Maori All Blacks was an unofficial test match and in some ways it was quite disappointing. The Lions were in control for much of the game, despite looking shaky for periods in the first half. George North looked poor and failed to collect the ball that lead to Liam Messam’s try. Leigh Halfpenny was cool over the kicking tee and kicked seven penalties. They scored a penalty try after a period of sustained pressure and later on Maro Itoje went over the line. It was a controlled performance which the Lions comfortably won.
After this game it was announced that there would be players joining the squad. So I tweeted:
So, five more Welsh players to be added to the lions squad. #LionsNZ2017
— Joe Harvey (@joeharvey34) June 16, 2017
And I was so very nearly right. Gatland called up four Welshmen who were in Tonga. those players were; Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey, Gareth Davies and Tomas Francis. Honestly Hill and Dacey are unknown quantities to me. I have never seen either of them play and don’t know much about them. Gareth Davies is a favourite of Gatland but hasn’t played regularly for Wales since the 2015 World Cup. Two Scottish players were selected also, Allan Dell of Edinburgh and the fantastic Finn Russell. These players will undoubtedly be involved in the game against the Hurricanes and could force their way into a test side.
Russell and Dell were called up after the Lions took on the Cheifs in Waikato. Again it felt all a bit simple for the Lions. They gradually built up their lead and controlled the game from start to finish. Jack Nowell stood out by scoring two tries. Dan Biggar was virtually faultless at #10. Joe Marler was himself putting a huge hit on Cheifs Laulala after the ball had gone, resulting in ten minutes on the sideline. All in all, it’s all been quite unexciting in the lead up to the first test on Saturday. One of the only things that has happened is the squad announcement for the first test.
Peter O’Mahony is the captain of the Lions in the first test against the All Blacks. A magnificent fact when you take into account that he only played a couple of times in this years Six Nations. Ben T’eo will be starting at #12 despite having only started a couple of times for England. Unsurprisingly Liam Williams is starting at full-back with Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson either side of him. An extremely exciting prospect. My eyes will be on Eden Park on Saturday morning.