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Lions’ hopes lifted by England win over NZ

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    England’s rugby players awoke to headlines of “The Incredibles” and “World Beaters” on Sunday after ending New Zealand’s 20-Test unbeaten run in one of the most jaw-dropping international results in years.

    The 38-21 victory at Twickenham shook up the established rugby order, giving the English renewed hope of success at the 2015 World Cup that they will host.

    In the short term, however, the result and dominant performance will have reignited belief among the home unions that the British & Irish Lions can end a 16-year barren streak when they tour Australia next year.

    With Wales also pushing the Wallabies mightily close on Saturday, losing 14-12 after conceding a last-minute try, Australia coach Robbie Deans has seen close up what his side will be facing in June and July.

    “I think we have seen from the two encounters that the Lions series is going to be huge,” Deans said.

    “These (Australia) players have earned some respite, a good break, but I’m sure at the back of their minds that it’s looming.”

    Saturday’s results may have altered the thinking of Warren Gatland, the New Zealand-born Wales coach who will also lead the Lions to Australia.

    Many pundits had been predicting the Welsh would provide the biggest contingent of players, having won the 2012 Six Nations and also been the only British team to reach the semifinals of last year’s World Cup.

    However, they have unstuck in their past 16 matches against the southern hemisphere giants – a run that includes eight straight losses to Australia – and the team’s composure in critical moments has been found wanting.

    Suddenly, it is a young England side – under the calm, progressive stewardship of Stuart Lancaster – that appear to have the brightest future, with the likes of flyhalf Owen Farrell and locks Geoff Parling and Joe Launchbury coming of age against the All Blacks.

    While the recent Tests have given Gatland some pointers, it will be the Six Nations tournament across February and March that will finalise his decisions.

    “No-one’s pencilled in,” Gatland said.

    “Of course, there’s people who you’ve been keeping an eye on, and England winning (against New Zealand) was a great result for them. We’ll have a good look at that.

    “I thought Ireland’s performance against Argentina was excellent and a few players put their hands up there.”

    Wales emerged reeling from a seven-match losing run and the nature of the loss to Australia – coming after lacklustre defeats to Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand – can only dent the confidence ahead of the Six Nations.

    “To lose again in the last minute like that, it’s devastation,” said Wales scrumhalf Mike Phillips, after seeing Kurtley Beale score the winning try for the Wallabies with 20 seconds remaining.

    “We would rather lose by 50 points, I think. But we have got to take it on the chin.”

    Gatland will announce his Lions squad in the northern hemisphere spring, after the Six Nations.

    The representational team last won a series in 1997, in South Africa, with losses since in Australia (2-1 in 2001), New Zealand (3-0 in 2005) and South Africa (2-1 in 2009).

    © AP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:09am
      TheGreyGhost said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:09am | ! Report

      “England’s rugby players awoke to headlines of “The Incredibles” and “World Beaters” on Sunday”

      As a comment on the weakness for hysterical twaddle in rugby journalism in England then you make some valid points.

      The Lions however, will play Australia, and not NZ. Last time I looked Australia had beaten Wales numerous times on the trot, and knocked off England at home too.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:27am
      Terry Kidd said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

      With Gatland as coach the Kidd crystal ball sees the Lions employing a rush defence similar to the Welsh tactics against the Wallabies. Thus Deans and the Wallabies will seek to go wide and get around the defence. I see a Wallaby V Lions series characterised by close, physical first halfs followed by open wide running play in the 2nd half as the Lions tire.

      Now THAT is a big call 7 months out and prior to any squads being announced. Hahahahaha.

    • December 3rd 2012 @ 11:39am
      Syd said | December 3rd 2012 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      TGG – You are typical of the arrogrant Australian that gives us a bad name. Yes we have beaten Wales 4 times in 6 months but the Lions won’t be anything like them. They will have much more forward power and better backs.
      The English team had 2 of their front row out, one second row and one back row.. they don’t have the strength in depth as us and you saw when they got the prop, unearthed and second row and got the back rower back they beat up the Boks and AB’s.
      I think we will win as we will be more of a team and we will be at ease with the attack system and defensive system.

      People always have a go at the lions for losing away from home to one of the best teams in the world but they always played away from home, have to get guys who have just been trying to destroy each other in the 6N to put the national ill feeling aside and become one. The have a few weeks to learn a new defensive system, and attack system while the whole time playing in a new team (as the test team probably has one game (if that) to play together as they try ang get all players out on the park before the test).

      I thought they were great and unlucky in SA last time out. I think we will win 2-1 by the skin of our teeth.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 6:49pm
        Thegreyghost said | December 3rd 2012 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

        I’m n an Aussie…

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 6:50pm
        Thegreyghost said | December 3rd 2012 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

        I’m n an Aussie…

        And making the point that the lions aren’t playing NZ is not arrogance, it’s logic, reason and fact.

    • December 4th 2012 @ 12:03am
      damngood said | December 4th 2012 @ 12:03am | ! Report

      GG, Saturday must have been awful for you. Have you even emerged from your bedsit since the slaughter???

      • December 5th 2012 @ 1:21am
        TheGreyGhost said | December 5th 2012 @ 1:21am | ! Report

        Not at all ovalball, I see it as a sign of great respect that the Poms have been so excited to get a home win against NZ. It’s a great achivement for them to earn their traditional once per decade home win. And I’m happy to see them so chuffed with themselves. I’m sure it doesn’t detract from the win at all that NZ were suffering with the Norovirus, and had multiple political suspensions weakening the team, or that DC was crooked with an achillies issue.

        I’m sure they were happy to have ended NZ’s run of 26 consecutive wins over the home nations and 20 consecutive undefeated tests following a world cup. I’m sure the Poms are sympathetic to the difficulty of maintaining standards up after a world cup, given their own struggle to retain credibility following 2003, especially as the game has moved on so much in professionalism and athleticism since those days.

        Plus I wouldn’t have wanted to sleep in and miss the IRB awards…

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