Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Best Men Don't Live Up to Name; Captain Endures a Nightmare as Team of Back-Up Test Players Suffer an Error-Strewn Defeat. Chris Jones Reports from Canberra

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Best Men Don't Live Up to Name; Captain Endures a Nightmare as Team of Back-Up Test Players Suffer an Error-Strewn Defeat. Chris Jones Reports from Canberra

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones

BRUMBIES 14

LIONS 12

THE LIONS stumbled to a first tour defeat, allowing an understrength Brumbies outfit to inflict a potentially serious blow on the touring team as they prepare for Saturday's First Test with Australia.

This was by some way the worst performance of the Lions tour and their play, particularly in the first half, was disjointed and lacking ambition. They featured four backs -- Christian Wade, Shane Williams, Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees -- who had only just arrived in the country and the Brumbies made the most of the situation.

The Brumbies are missing their Wallaby players but coach Jake White ensured they were fired up for this battle which showed that too many of the Lions in this team are miles away from pressing for Test selection. Captain Rory Best had a nightmare at the lineout and his poor throwing saw him removed in the second half.

The Lions were not helped by referee Jerome Garces control of the break down which favoured the home side, who were more street smart and made up for the 30-28 loss they suffered against the tourists in 2001.

The Lions now have to regroup quickly for the First Test in Brisbane and rediscover the ability to win lineout ball, punch holes in midfield, win the break down and turn the scrum into a major weapon.

Midweek matches do not break a tour but they can provide a morale boost or a loss of confidence. In 1989, the Lions fought back to win against ACT here in Canberra and in 2001 clinched that lastgasp win. Now, they have suffered a first tour defeat to a provincial side since losing 35-30 to Blue Bulls in 1997.

The first half was a disaster for the Lions with Best throwing so badly into the line-out you started to question why he was ever chosen to replace the banned Dylan Hartley. The scrum was also suspect and the break down became a shambles as the hosts worked out what the referee would allow and got hands on the ball at the earliest chance. …

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