The Stormers were expected to provide a sterner test for the Lions than some of the other provincial sides they have played so far on this tour and for the first twenty-five or so minutes they were. After that, the Lions overwhelmed them and were able to complete their Test preparations with a very comfortable.
The Lions have racked up 243 points and only conceded 72 points in five games, with one narrow loss against a South Africa “A” on their tour so far. Warren Gatland, the Head Coach, must be quietly confident that they are in a good position to win the first test and potentially the series.
There were plenty of pluses to take from the way that the Lions played against the Stormers. Their player combinations gelled, their ability to move the point of contact and find space out wide was very effective. They scored seven tries, with six of them coming from forwards.
This says something about the style of play that they want to play and the way that the forwards can play given the opportunity. There were some early mistakes from the Lions and they’ll need to be ultra-clinical come Test time if they want to win.
It was in the second half that the Lions started to dominate and to play freely. It was great to see Marcus Smith, on his debut for the Lions at fly-half. He played with control and executed the game plan well. When given an opportunity, he used his in-famous hitch kick and put the gas on to pass to Louis Rees-Zammit to score a fabulous team try.
With Dan Biggar possibly being injured and Finn Russel also maybe out of contention for the first Test selection, also due to injury, Smith has catapulted his way into contention at fly-half.
The big story had to be seeing Alun Wyn-Jones re-instated Tour Captain and return in the second row he, for about twenty-five minutes of the second half. It seemed that his tour was over when he dislocated his shoulder in a warm-up game against Japan, but incredibly he recovered in 18 days. The thirty-five-year-old defied all odds and from the outset was physical a presence to the pitch.
So we’ve reached the business end of this Tour get ready for the Lions to raw.