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EXCLUSIVE: Phil Vickery Lions tour blog – 2nd Test



 Ouch – Brutal Battle leads to Showdown

What an amazing game.  Saturday’s second test match proved to be a brutal affair that even made me wince.  The tension was obvious and made for a tight attritional game.  The Lions had to do a lot of defending throughout and it showed at the end when the line cracked and Adam Ashley-Cooper cut through for his try.

It was a game of inches where goal kicking became priceless.  What a difference for Australia having their mainline kicker back and his conversion of Ashley-Cooper’s try was crucial.

I thought at the time that the final penalty from the Lions was a real gamble as it was right on the edge of Leigh Halfpenny’s range.  Tap and go may have been a better option but that is easy to say from my armchair and if it had gone over we would now be celebrating an historic Lions series win.

One thing which did please me was the way Mako Vunipola came back from his initial difficulties in the scrum.  Never nice to be the one conceding penalties as I know only too well but credit to Mako he dealt with it and as the game went on he found a way to come through.  He just may have been guilty of a little boring in on the Australian prop but 100 per cent legal scrummaging very rarely happens!

The Lions are of course not out of it and all eyes turn to Sydney for next week’s decider.  In sporting terms it could not be better but for Lions fans it is nerve jangling.

Lions captain Sam Warburton is unfortunately out with that hamstring injury but that allows Warren Gatland to play with his back row and get the balance absolutely right.

A ready-made captain in the legendary Brian O’Driscoll is waiting in the wings and what a fairy story it would be for him to win next week and create some history.  See you on that sofa on Saturday!

Phil Vickery is a former England rugby union captain for whom he played 73 times including three world cups. Phil was also fortunate enough to go on two British & Irish Lions tours in 2001 (Australia) and 2009 (South Africa).

He’ll be writing for the Debenhams blog after each Lions Test in Australia.

Saturday 22 June: First Test: Lions 23-21 Australia – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane.
Saturday 29 June: Second Test: Lions 15-16 Australia – Etihad Stadium, Melbourne.
Saturday 6 July: Third Test: Lions v Australia – ANZ Stadium, Sydney. Kick-off: 1100 BST (2000 local)

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