O’Mahony to lead Lions in ‘fourth Test’ against the Maoris




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    Munster captain, Peter O’Mahony, has been chosen to lead the British and Irish Lions in their match against the Maori All Blacks (previously known as the New Zealand Maoris), which takes place this Saturday at 8.30 am (Irish time).

    The match has been labelled as the unofficial ‘fourth Test’, reflecting the strength of the Maoris side. The Lions have taken this description seriously and have picked their strongest squad yet for the game.

    Leigh Halfpenny returns to take the full-back spot. Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton are at half-backs. Ben Te’o and Jonathan Davies are the centres, with George North and Anthony Watson on the wings.

    Jamie George is at hooker, with Mako Vunipola and Tadgh Furlong on either side of him at prop. The second rows are Maro Itoje and George Kruis. O’Mahony is joined in the back row by Sean O’Brien and Toby Faletau.

    Halfpenny is the only member of the team that didn’t feature in the win against the Crusaders last Saturday. Stuart Hogg has been ruled out of the tour through injury so Halfpenny is now the frontrunner for the Test series fullback spot.

    Owen Farrell was in the original squad for the Maoris game but has had to withdraw through injury. His place on the bench is taken by Dan Biggar. Tour captain Sam Warburton is also on the bench.

    The other replacements are Ken Owens, Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinklair, Iain Henderson, Greig Laidlaw and Elliot Daly.

    The Lions will want to get the tour back on track after the midweek side’s loss to the Highlanders, 23-22. The Lions’s attack was the best it has been so far this tour, scoring three tries, which is more than the previous three games put together. But they succumbed to a late Highlanders penalty.

    A clear split has appeared in the quality of the Lions teams, between the Saturday/Test side and the midweek/dirt-trackers. The ‘Test’ sides have won their big match, against the Crusaders, while the mid-week side lost both to the Blues and the Highlanders.

    British and Irish Lions Rugby Union 2017

    (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

    If the Lions manage to beat the Maoris then they will make everybody sit up for the Test series. The Lions haven’t impressed many in New Zealand so far, relying mainly on a defensive game and penalty kicks.

    The Lions defence will have to be at its best in this game as the Maoris have one of the most destructive back-lines in the world.

    The Maoris are a team with a strong history against International sides. They have recorded wins against Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Argentina and Australia. They’ve also drawn a match against South Africa.

    The Maoris remain undefeated against full Test sides since a 2003 to England. The Maoris actually played the Lions before the full New Zealand side did. The 1888 Lions played the Maoris on their pioneering tour. The Lions didn’t play New Zealand until 1903.

    The Maoris record against the British and Irish Lions isn’t so good, however. The Maoris have played the Lions eight times over the years and have only won one game, the most recent game, on the 2005 tour.

    The Maoris have also picked a strong side for the Lions match, though they have been denied a ‘warm-up game’, which is essential for a scratch side like the Maoris, before a big game like this.

    The Maoris have an explosive back-line, including Rieko Ioane, who scored the winning try for the Blues in their victory over the Lions. The Lions will shade the game by five points or so, but it will be tough.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • June 16th 2017 @ 7:40am
      moaman said | June 16th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      NZ Maori very strong in the backs–will have to work hard up front to get enough clean ball to have any chance.

      Declan—do you think this is the Lions’ best side (minus Farrell) and not just the strongest side chosen to date?

      ps You might get some stick for using the antiquated anglisised ‘maoris’ here.Drop the ‘s’ and you can’t go wrong!

      • Roar Guru

        June 16th 2017 @ 8:08am
        taylorman said | June 16th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        Yes, it’s like saying sheeps.

      • June 16th 2017 @ 8:12am
        Neil Back said | June 16th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        Ever the pedant but ….back at you and drop the ‘s’. It’s ‘anglicised’.

        • Roar Guru

          June 16th 2017 @ 11:29am
          taylorman said | June 16th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

          Ha ha, touché…

        • June 16th 2017 @ 4:46pm
          moaman said | June 16th 2017 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

          I just spotted that Neil! Thought it looked odd when I wrote it but was in a bit of a rush….thanks mate.

    • June 16th 2017 @ 8:23am
      Waxhead said | June 16th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Well Declan you Lions fans have previously advised the Crusaders game was the unofficial 4th Test.
      Now its Maori’s allegedly but as you’re finding out EVERY game in NZ is a brutal Test.

      You say – “The Lions haven’t impressed many in New Zealand so far.”
      Well they haven’t impressed many in Australia either.

      Is this team picked for the Maori game almost their Test team.
      You guys said same of the team picked for Crusaders.
      But reality is there’s very little difference in quality between any of the players in this Lions squad.
      Let’s see if they can score any tries against the Maori 🙂

      • June 16th 2017 @ 9:17am
        Neil Back said | June 16th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

        I’m sure all the unimpressed Australians are used to that by now in their rugby. They’ll be fine.

    • June 16th 2017 @ 9:28am
      mad mick said | June 16th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      O’Mahony is an inspired choice as skipper by the Lions. When test time comes around I expect O’Brien, O”Mahony and Stander to be the starting back row.

    • June 16th 2017 @ 10:33am
      stainlesssteve said | June 16th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

      Anything can happen in the result, it’s a drawback to have to go in cold, without a warm-up game, but the Māori All Blacks (by whatever name) bring a sharpened focus and interest, with their tradition of fast, open play, and the depth of culture they incorporate.
      It takes sport a way above the level of opiate of the masses

    • June 16th 2017 @ 11:21am
      Jacko said | June 16th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      The pack looks like an area the BILs can dominate but the backline for the MAORI looks rather impressive. If we get a dry track in Rotorua the result could go either way but my expectation is that the Lions will win in a tight match due to forward domination…Lineout could be a struggle for the Maori and if they struggle with set piece they will struggle with enough ball, but if they get equal or similar ball they could surprise…..Go the Maori ABs

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