Live coverage of the Melbourne Rebels v Lions

John O'Sullivan Tue, Jun 25
Melbourne Rebels
LIVE: Lions

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  • 10:12

    Good morning and welcome to the Irish Times live blog of the Lions game against the Melbourne Rebels. John O'Sullivan here and I'll be taking you through the next couple of hours.

    Lions coach Warren Gatland has just confirmed that Ireland's Paul O'Connell will stay on with the Lions' squad even though he was been ruled out of the remainder of the tour.

    Gatland spoke about what a huge loss O'Connell was but how happy he was that the Munster secondrow would be around to provide some input ahead of the final two tests.

  • 10:15
    Sky Sports are going through the James Horwill incident in which the Australian captain brought his foot down on the face of Alun-Wyn Jones during the first test. He escaped any sanction after being cited and attending a disciplinary hearing. The slo-mo doesn't do him any favours and Ian McGeechan, Paul Wallace and former Australian hooker Brendan Cannon all suggest that he was fortunate to escape any censure.
  • 10:17
    Tonight's opponents for the LIons are the Melbourne Rebels, who made their bow in Super Rugby in 2011.

    On their jersey's logo are five stars that represent the Rebel creed:

    • Respect – yourself and the opposition
    • Excellence – highest standards in everything we do
    • Balance – sport and life, determination and humility
    • Ethos – Team first, 'we, not me'
    • Leadership – challenge the status quo.
  • 10:19
    Mind you owning a Rebels' shirt requires a significant financial investment.

    It's a pricey business. A jersey from their official site will set you back a whopping $170 Australian dollars which works out at an eye watering €119.54. You’d be sticking that one in the cold wash, no spin, and do not iron bracket.

  • 10:23
    The Melbourne side features two young tyros looking to make an impression at outhalf and fullback in the absence of Australian internationals.

    The two outlined their thoughts ahead of today's (Irish time) match.

    For former Brisbane Broncos academy player Bryce Hegarty, the opportunity to start against the Lions in front of his home fans is a dream come true.

    "I can't wait." Hegarty said. "Getting here has been a long ride, but a great ride, and I have had a lot of great people around me helping me out. It's game on, I’m very excited and the team is too."

    Hegarty started at outhalf half in victories against the Waratahs and Stormers last month, and credits the home support for playing a key role in those record breaking wins. He is asking tonight's potential record crowd to provide unprecedented noise in support of their hometown heroes.

    "It's massive for the fans to get behind the Rebels. We need all the support we can get, as there will be a bloody lot of Lions supporters here. I know all the boys would really appreciate as many people here as possible cheering us on."

    Fullback Jason Woodward, who has eleven Rebels' caps to his name in a standout rookie season, agrees.

    "The support from the crowd will be hugely important," he said. "Our very loud, patriotic crowds have really helped us throughout the season. Tonight we know it will be chocker block, and we need our fans to be as loud as possible to help us out on the field."

    Woodward moved to Melbourne from Wellington, New Zealand, to chase his Super Rugby dreams at the end of 2012, and admits it is a strange feeling living in a city where Rugby Union isn't the number one sport.

    "When I first came to Melbourne, a lot of people didn't know that much about Super Rugby; it's such an AFL-oriented city sometime. It's a lot different to back home but to see what a massive impact this club has had on the city, and now to see the impact of a Lions tour with both this game and also the test this weekend, Victorians have really bought into it and it's a special feeling."

    "I've also got my mum and dad over for the game, my wife will be there and some close family friends. It's really important to me that they have come across the ditch for what's going to be a really special occasion, and I'm so grateful for that. It's a massive game, a once in a lifetime opportunity, so to get to play out here with my mates and for all of Victoria is going to be awesome."

  • 10:24
    The Lions team for the match.

    British & Irish Lions: Rob Kearney (Leinster/Ireland); Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers/England), Brad Barritt (Saracens/England), Simon Zebo (Munster/Ireland); Owen Farrell (Saracens/England), Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland); Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers/England), Richie Gray (Scotland)), Ian Evans (Ospreys/Wales), Dan Lydiate (Dragons/Wales, capt), Sean O’Brien (Leinster/Ireland), Toby Faletau (Dragons/Wales). Replacements: Rory Best (Ulster/Ireland), Tom Court (Ulster/Ireland), Matt Stevens (Saracens/England), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby/England), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland).
  • 10:26
    The Rebels will be captained by Welsh international Gareth Delve. Their top scorer in their brief history is England's bus enthusiast Danny Cipriani (122 points).
  • 10:35
    We're about nine minutes away from kickoff. Gatland has intimated that those Lions' players in action are not without a chance of making Saturday's second test match. We you wouldn't expect him to say anything else but he did make the point that if Kurtley Beale had kicked one of those two late penalties, the Lions would definitely have been making alterations in personnel for the second test.

    From an Irish perspective it'll be interesting to watch the performances of Rob Kearney, Simon Zebo, Conor Murray, Sean O'Brien and from the bench Rory Best and the accidental tourist Tom Court.
  • 10:35
    We're awaiting the arrival of the teams onto the pitch.
  • 10:38
    The Lions are out and have gone into a huddle.
  • 10:40
    As Billy Idol said: 'And with a Rebel yell," it 's Mebourne. We're under way.
  • 10:44
    A decent start from the LIons until Brad Barritt fails to collect a pass. Lions lose their second lineout. 

    Lions lose third lineout. Oops. Looks ominous. Wonder what Rory Best is thinking as he watches Richard Hibbard.
  • 10:45
    We're about to have the fourth Lions throw-in. Throw successfully to the back but the tourists penalised for going off their feet at a ruck.
  • 10:46
    Now a first scrum. It's in the LIons 22 and came about because the Rebels knocked on from a sloppy lineout move.
  • 10:48
    Time for a re-set.
  • 10:49
    Lions awarded a penalty as the Rebel scrum buckles.
  • 10:51
    Lions go through eight phases, using the full width of the pitch but Richie Gray is turned over at a ruck.
  • 10:53
    Sean O'Brien has made a good start but Hibbard's offload to the Irishman in the Rebels' 22 is unsympathetic. Scrum Rebels.
  • 10:55
    There are 11 minutes gone and it's been a little error strewn. The LIons are heavily patterned in what they're doing, especially when overloading the shortside to give them the full expanse of the pitch to come back and attack. They're probably committing too many to rucks.
  • 10:57
    That's better from the LIons. Owen Farrell has been good in varying the point of attack. He's playing very flat. Barritt's chip for Maitland leads to Lions scrum five.

    TRY: Conor Murray
  • 10:59
    LIons get a nudge on from scrum, Toby Faletau has a gone but comes up fractionally short. Ball pops out by Murray pirouettes cleverly and plunges over. Farrell adds conversion.

  • 11:02
    Bryce Hegarty puts ball out on full from re-start. Lions march the Rebels scrum back and are awarded a penalty on the 10-metre line. They go to corner but a knock-on at the lineout gives the home side the scrum.
  • 11:02
    LIons get penalty at a ruck. Farrell goes to corner again.
  • 11:04
    Dan Cole spills the ball eight metres from the line.  
  • 11:05

    Good work from O'Brien again but again the pass does not go to hand. LIons just need to be a little more precise and the tries will come.

  • 11:09
    O'Brien penalised for playing the ball from offside position. He was part of tackle but the referee Glen Jackson did shout at him not to touch the ball. Woodward misses from about 35 metres; poor effort.  
  • 11:10
    Fr. Ted Crilly Careful now
  • 11:13

    Right on cue, a second LIons try. A superb passage of rugby, O'Brien the catalyst with a short hands, offload, Zebo involved too, Manu Tuilagi, Faletau and Zebo puts Maitland over unopposed. Farrell kicks the conversions.

  • 11:15
    Great quick tap from Farrell, Zebo super feet and offload back to the English outhalf but his pass to O'Brien is adjudged forward eight metgres from the Rebels line. A 50 metre counter-attack. Good rugby.
  • 11:15
    Bren How are Rob Kearney, Simon Zebo, Conor Murray, Sean O'Brien doing? Any chance of a bench or better for any of them on Saturday????
  • 11:17
    Bren. O'Brien excellent so far, Zebo has had some nice touches and one great break. Rob Kearney is largely a spectator through no fault of his own. Conor Murray neesd to be more precise and a little slicker.  
  • 11:19
    Billy Twelvetrees is on as a blood sub for Barritt. Cold hands sees him drop O'Brien's offload.
  • 11:22
    That's spirited stuff from the Rebels, inspired by a fine break from Mitch Inman. Lions penalised in the shadow of ther own posts. Rebels kick for corner but Ian Evans hand deflects ball back on Lions side. Great work.
  • 11:24
    We're in first half injury time. Murray put the ball out but there was 10 seconds left.
  • 11:25
    It's been a decent performance from the LIons. If they c an be a little more accurate with their offloading game through the tackle then there are more tries in the offing.
  • 11:27
    Farrell's had a fine 40 minutes, playing very flat and varying his passing nicely. O'Brien's another to impress. He's thrown in one or two errors but the positives of his performance far outweigh any mistakes. The lineout has improved after a very shaky start and the Lions scrum is well on top.
  • 11:32
    There's no doubt that the attitude of the Lions team has been good. Richie Gray and Ian Evans have been very good around the pitch, O'Brien is the pick of the backrow but Toby Faletau has carried powerfully. Tuilagi has enjoyed a big 40 minutes in the centre and it was his power and soft hands that were central to the Maitland try.  
  • 11:35
    Niall is Tuilagi making an impression yet ? if Roberts isn't fit for the weekend do you think he has a chance of playing 12? he seemed to play well with O'Driscoll earlier in the tour
  • 11:36
    NIall: Tuilagi has been very good. He's added more subtlety to his game in terms of having better peripheral vision and being aware of the running lines of others. He's definitely a contender if he continues in the same vein for the second 40 minutes.
  • 11:37
    Martin Anyone look like they are genuinely pushing for a place on the test day squad/starting 15?
  • 11:40
    Martin: The two secondrows, O'Brien, Tuilagi and Zebo from those who weren't involved in the first test. Faletau too.

    O'Brien down injured. Brave but poor technique in the tackle. Thankfully he's up and back in the game
  • 11:41
    kevin believe barnes been v critical of murray - justified?
  • 11:43
    Kevin: Not to the extent he's carping about Murray. The scrumhalf has made a few errors but he's done some good work. Murray would benefit from a little more composure in his decision making and being a tad quicker in his distribution.
  • 11:44
    Lions continue to butcher try scoring chances. It's getting irritating.  
  • 11:45
    Ciaran Coughlan - 11 My favourite player in the world is Simon Zebo he's so fast he's faster than a Zzzzzzebra
  • 11:45
    Dave How did Lydiate do in the first 40? Be great to see O'Brien on the bench Sat.
  • 11:46
    Dave: He's been solid and tidy but O'Brien's work-rate and contribution streets ahead.
  • 11:48

    Lydiate and O'Brien
    combine off a lineout. It's very good work  from the LIons captain and a neat sidestep from O'Brien off a cleverly worked lineout move. Superb conversion from Farrell.
  • 11:49
    It's Farrell's last act. He's had a fine 50 minutes. Stuart Hogg is on at outhalf for the Lions.
  • 11:50
    Mark Murray is as fast as a distributor of the ball as any other SH. The forwards aren't cleaning up the ruck so he has to dig it out himself!
  • 11:51
    Mark: There's an element of that but he's waiting a little too long for pods to form. Needs to back his own judgement more.
  • 11:52
    Sloppy pass from Zebo to Kearney in defence but the latter does very well to rescue the situation five mtres from his own line.
  • 11:53
    TOM COURT is on.
  • 11:54
    Brian cronin in Galicia, Spain When is Stuart barnes not carping about Irish players-particularly if thet're from Munster
  • 11:55
    Sean O'Brien has been taken off with 27 minutes to go. Definitely made a big impression and hopefully it's a change with next Saturday's second test in mind. Justin Tipuric is on.  
  • 11:57
    Rory Best on too. Zebo and Kearney have both had decent cameos on the ball in the five minutres.
  • 11:58
    Martin R Murray is far from fasest distributor of the ball from back of ruck.
  • 11:59
    Rob Kearney is departing. Twelvetrees to outhalf. Hoggs to fullback. Time for the conspiracy theories in terms of Saturday's selection. Two and two may equal, three, four or five if you get my drift.
  • 12:02

    wins a lineout, six metres out, Best is in control of the football and Jordy Reid comes in from the side to grab the Ulsterman. The Rebel gets a yellow card too.
  • 12:04
    Martin R Hope your theory is correct with regard to Kearney and next Saturday. Will be very tough to displace 0.5p.
  • 12:06
    Martin: Kearney won't displace Halfpenny. His best chance is a place on the bench but given that Maitland, who fulfilled that role didn't come on in the first test it's not an obvious move.  
  • 12:06
    Audrey, Lourdes, France Good time for the lads to shine as lots of families have arrived for this one...
  • 12:08
    Sorry, should have pointed out, Murray departed about eight minutes ago to be replaced by Ben Youngs. Tom Croft is on for Lydiate who made 15 tackles.
  • 12:08
    Great rip from Zebo and outrageous offload. One for the highlights reel.
  • 12:10
    There are nine minutes left and the game has petered out a bit given the number of replacements.
  • 12:10
    Martin R Head agrees with you, heart is ever hopeful.
  • 12:12
    Try from Ben Youngs. Very nice turn of pace and good finish under posts.

  • 12:13
    You'd have to look at the Rebels defence from a critical point of view but Youngs took it nicely. The Leicester scrumhalf has been sharp albeit against a flagging home team.
  • 12:16
    Jake How likely is it that we will see a midfield re-shuffeling come the 2nd test ? ( Manu in ? Roberts fitness ? )
  • 12:17
    Jake: Tuilagi has been good on the ball.
  • 12:18
    Mark Brian Cronin: why are you differentiating between Munster players and the rest? We are all LIONS in Oz
  • 12:19
    Brian: Hadn't noticed I was but now that you have pointed it out, I will be more careful.
  • 12:20
    Oops I'm distracted by comments. See Mark was talking to Brian.
  • 12:20
    Frank I presume anyone on for full 80 is unlikely to feature on Saturday, so the substitution of O'Brien and Kearney hopefully a good sign for the Bench on Saturday. Croft looks vulnerable at blindside but may make bench as cover for second row as well.
  • 12:21

    It's over. A shut-out for the Lions.

  • 12:25
    Frank: My oblique refence earlier on about two and two making three, four or five was a reference to drawing inferences from the replacing of players. O'Brien couldn't have done much more, a handling error or two nowithstanding, so too Tuilagi, Gray and Faletau in terms of those players that didn't make the match day squad last week.

    Kearney worked hard to get into the game when play wasn't coming his way and Zebo had an excellent match. Sean O'Brien has just sworn in the post match interview and immediately apologised. He wanted to prove a point and it's fair to say he has.
  • 12:27
    David - Sydney Can't see anyone who played the full game getting a spot on Sat which rules out Tuilagi - I think Roberts will be fit and will take Davies spot O'Brien should be on the bench, instead of Lydiate. Faletau good but Heaslip safe.
  • 12:28
    niall so John after that what are your predicted changes for Saturday ? O'Brien and Stevens on the bench and Roberts at 12 if fit ?
  • 12:29
    O'Brien  and Richie Gray to the bench on the evidence of tonight's game.
  • 12:31
    Jamie Roberts fitness is the key to whether Tuilagi has any involvement. Good scrum work from loosehead Ryan Grant tonight. Alex Corbisiero's fitness crucial to the Lions scrum.
  • 12:33
    You have to factor in the performance of the Melbourne Rebels. They were very disjointed, particularly in the second half.
  • 12:34
    The looser contest definitely suited Richie Gray.
  • 12:36
    Gatland pleased about: "Defence, Discipline, Ball carrying, Set piece."
  • 12:39
    Gatland name checks whole backrow, Sean Maitland, Richie Gray and Richard Hibbard. Maitland plaudit coluld be bad news for Kearney and Zebo. 
  • 12:40
    Or Gatland could be playing 'silly buggers' as Jack Charlton would say.
  • 12:41
    Chants of Zebo, Zebo, Zebo as he's been interviewed.
  • 12:41
    Conor Gray makes sense as an impact player; so too O'Brien, who should be in now. What about Tuilagi? Definitely has impact, and with Sexton and Halfpenny on the field, you could leave Farrell out of the 23. If his dad wasn't on the coaching ticket...
  • 12:44
    Conor: Farrell had a fine game tonight. Agree with you about Tuilagi. IT would be a brave call by Gatland. It really does depend on whether the Lions coach wants to go with genuine impact players off the bench on the assumption that at some point the Lions might have to chase the game, rather than lock it down.

    Just a word about Rory Best who's lineout throwing was excellent when he came on tonight.
  • 12:45
    GERRY THORNLEY's match report has dropped from Oz and will be available presently as they say in  the best circles.
  • 12:48

    There'll be geuine debate about right wing, centre, scrumhalf, loosehead prop, secondrow and the composition of the backrow when Gatland sits down with his fellow coaches to select the team for the second test over the next few days.

  • 12:54

    Right wing: Alex Cuthbert/Tommy Bowe

    Inside centre: Jonathan Davies, Manu Tuilagi, Jamie Roberts

    Scrumhalf: Mike Phillips, Ben Youngs

    Loosehead prop: Alex Corbisiero, Ryan Grant, Mako Vunipola

    Secondrow partner for Wyn Jones: Geoff Parling, Gray

    Blindside flanker: Tom Croft, Sean O'Brien, Dan Lydiate or a long shot, Toby Faletau.
  • 12:59
    Right that's it for today. I'm off to the Irish Open in Carton House to live blog Thursday and Friday's golf but I'll be back in Irish Times towers for Saturday's second test. Thank's for your company.