RUGBY UNION  –   Lions mauled

AHEAD OF last Saturday’s first official Test against New Zealand, Sir Clive Woodward’s supposed second string took on local side Southland with all 15 players knowing that they had missed out on a starting place in the real thing. Two try Gavin Henson was the only one of the “B-Lions” to emerge with credit from a dour affair, which the tourists managed to decide 26-16 in their favour despite the poorest of handling.

In Christchurch, the “A team” took to the field and were annihilated by the All Blacks in every sense, confirming this expert’s view that the poor warm up form by the British & Irish Lions was compounded by Sir Clive Woodward’s over-cautious selection policy. The side that did not feature in the Six Nations shake up, England, provided eight players in a Lions pack that was robbed of its captain in the opening minutes.

Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll had his tour ended by a horrendous tackle that resulted in a severely dislocated shoulder – astonishingly no disciplinary action was taken against the perpetrators. It was all downhill from there on, the rampant All Blacks slicing through toothless Lions to record an opening 21-3 win that could have turned out even higher. In appalling conditions, the tourists lost line-out after line-out and if anything is to be salvaged in the remaining two tests of this tour, both confidence and application will need to be seriously worked through.