Disaster averted, then. A vastly improved loose forward performance set up a close win, with Latimer and Reid both outstanding. More worrying is the Carter-less halves; Stephen Donald didn’t take his chances on a (let’s be frank) SHITTY Wellington night where tickets to the ground were a mixed blessing, while McAllister looks like he’s been doing mostly promotional work since 2007. Cowan was quiet for him and while Weepu looked good as a sub, can he do it as a starter? Outside them, it’s a little more re-assuring, with Nonu, Smith and Mils playing solid, professional Rugby.
Up in the coaches’ box, it’s all go. Traditionally, All Black coaches exhibit all the emotion of a tow bar, but last night Ted and team turned into S Club 7, unable to sit still, all clasped heads and reaching for the sky. They’re feeling pressure, team, and we’re only two games in. Playing a full strength, battle hardened French team at the time of year we’re usually playing a Scottish Lawn Bowlers’ selection was always going to be tough with all those players out. To me, the ABs were trying too much in both matches when keeping it simple may have been a better option. With Italy next, we won’t know how we’re REALLY travelling until the Tri-Nations now.
South Africa are lucky enough to have a time zone that suits UK TV, and the All Blacks and France would have been envious of the Lions and Springboks running out into strong Durban sunshine. The 2009 Boks are big, confident and clinical, and threatened to do a ‘Bulls’ to the Lions ‘Chiefs’ in the first 20 minutes.
This year’s Lions is a vast improvement from Clive’s Touring Cavalcade Of Arse we got in 2005, but in the first half they were happy to resort to the warm, familiar territory of the fucking idiotic. Silly penalty fans had a great afternoon, conceding for coming in from the side, niggling punches off the ball, you name it, all followed by a ‘who, me?’ appeal to Bryce Lawrence. It wasn’t until they’d all but given up and decided to have a pop that they looked any good – and then almost snatched it. The Boks would have got a hell of a fright. Test two should be a cracker.