@JC said in NZ Provincial Barbarians v B&I Lions (Whangarei, 3 June 2017):
The Walrus's take on it. Not much to argue with in general, but I didn't think Wyn Jones was all that good.
Alun Wyn Jones leads the charge as Lions stutter against Provincial Barbarians
Stephen Jones, Rugby Correspondent
June 3 2017, 12:01pm,
In short, the Lions forwards were disappointing in Whangarei. Up against a scratch combination, their lack of headway at a succession of five-yard scrums was poor - and they could make no dents in the efficient home line-out. Perhaps oddly, amongst all the new Lions desperate to stand out, it was the three-tour veteran Alun Wyn Jones who was the best Lion up front.
The Osprey lock was powerful at the breakdown. He was deft with his handling and clearly played a strong leadership role during the breaks in play. On the day he outshone his partner Iain Henderson, who faded after a bright start. Wyn Jones was hit by injury in the domestic season, never quite finding his best form, and so missed what was once a fighting chance of leading this tour party. Yesterday, he re-established himself - and without him it could have been really gory.
The Lions probably did not want to go to their bench as early as they did, but there was a little more drive in the loose and power in the scrum when Mako Vunipola and Tadhg Furlong arrived. Both men had appeared in major club finals as recently as last Saturday - one of the many lunacies of the tour set-up and its fixture list.
Who else, on this admittedly scant evidence, advanced their cause? Probably those who did not start or even appear. Certainly, the sight of Maro Itoje starting on Wednesday against the Blues will give everyone a lift, although the display of Wyn Jones this morning means that not even Itoje will walk into the Test team.
No team ever won a Test series without a great pack. The Lions will be praying that true power was masked by tiredness and unfamiliarity, rather than indicating a worrying weakness. The excuses run out rapidly on a tour of New Zealand.
Hmm. Vunipola and Furlong were not in club finals last Saturday. Their teams both exited the previous week in the semifinals. Good to see Jones has his finger on the pulse of European rugby.