Stormers vs B&I Lions aftermath: what the experts say

Stormers vs B&I Lions aftermath: what the experts say

After their loss to South Africa A on Wednesday evening, the British & Irish Lions picked themselves up and put the Stormers to the sword, 49-3, in Cape Town in their last match before the much-anticipated test series against the Springboks commences. 


Speaking on Sky Sports after the game, the panel of pundits, consisting of Maggie Alphonsi, Ronan O’Gara, Sam Warburton and Sir Ian McGeechan shared their thoughts. 


O’Gara concentrated on the wonderfully fluid performance of new recruit, Marcus Smith, but warned that he should not yet be thrown into the murky deep-end of tests against the Springboks: 


"I thought he was smart, challenging and decisive, trusted his instincts, but also played to the game plan. I think you are looking at the Lions' Test starter on the next tour, but probably for this tour...he has not been put in a cauldron. 


"You cannot crush this guy. The game against the Stormers to next Saturday is poles apart - it's of no relevance. Yes, he's excelled in everything, but your first 10 caps as a young player are a whirlwind. You do not really remember them, you become better as No. 10 with experience. 


"This guy is frighteningly good and has a massive future ahead of him but looking to start him next weekend would not be correct based on the good work the other No. 10s in the squad have done." 


Alphonsi highlighted the almost miraculous return of Alun Wyn Jones to the pitch, but questioned whether he is ready for test match rugby. 


"We did not see a large amount from him, but I think the key thing is he got through the game. He came on and you could see he really wanted to get himself involved; a couple of times he got his left shoulder in just for the sake of making a hit to show he's Test ready. 


"You felt when he came onto the pitch, people were already asking him questions and he just settled the team down. Based on what we saw today, I think he's shown he is fit and capable because he got himself involved. 


"What's going to happen now is it's going to create a bit of a selection dilemma. He has not necessarily shown himself what a good second row should be, but he's fit and he's a leader and he will take control of that team potentially in the first Test. 


"I think it's really hard, but he would not be in my Test team based on today." 


Sam Warburton picked up on an element of the Lions’ game which he feels will be very valuable going forward: 


"What's impressive is when they are offloading from the floor or looking for options inside 10 or when Ali Price was making defenders make decisions," he said. 


"I think the willingness to look for the offload post-contact is something I have definitely seen on this tour so far. The Lions did that in spades against the Stormers, but the difficult thing is when you play against South Africa who will be a lot more physical in defence it is harder to offload. 


"That's why, next Saturday, they have got to be dominant in their carry and be able to have the offload. You cannot offload going backwards, you have still got to be going forwards." 


Sir Ian McGeechan spoke of the importance of the breakdown and the threat of Faf de Klerk: 


"Faf de Klerk is so important to them because of the space they create in the first two channels either side of the ruck and that's what the Lions have to stop," McGeechan said. 


"That's what Price was so good at today because it holds the defence in then creates space for either the running lines inside him as Van der Merwe went or just outside him when Hill scored his try. 


"The importance of those breakdowns and just clearing a space so that ball becomes available really early allows options at the breakdown." 





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