‘They failed miserably’ – Lions’ tactics debunk ex-tour manager’s claims

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Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions tactic failed in South Africa, despite management knowing what they would face under the Springbok game plan, claims former tour manager Donal Lenihan.

Lenihan says the Lions’ inability to deal with the Springboks’ lightning defense and kicking game poorly reflects management’s strategic thinking, not least because of the lack of secrecy surrounding the South African’s own tactics.

‘There are three ways [you try to beat a blitz defence]; you try to get out, you try to cross it or you try to pass it, ”said Lenihan, speaking on RTE Rugby Podcast.

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“There’s space behind that flash defense that the Lions haven’t been able to exploit at all. We saw Robbie Henshaw’s disallowed tryout last week. It’s a perfect example of the space behind it. Those grubber kicks, there’s an opportunity there to break that defensive system.

“In some ways you think back to provincial games, they were scoring tries for fun. It was almost too easy. They broke down the defenses after two or three phases.

“It was nothing like the way South Africa play. They found themselves in the middle of a showdown, which they couldn’t win. And they didn’t produce an alternative , which I think will be an indictment of this coaching staff when this whole streak is over.

“Without any in-depth analysis, you knew exactly what the Springboks were going to present to you before coming here and nothing has changed. They have failed miserably in trying to fix this.

“To date, in both tests, the Lions have scored one try. Cowan-Dickie on a 10-yard lineout maul. That’s all.

The former second line, who has rotated twice with the Lions, sees the Lions midfield as perhaps the biggest concern for the Lions as a unit.

“There has been consistency with nine selections in the Test series. In other words, nine players will begin their third Test.

“Five of those nine have been in the last five [of the pack]. The second row and back row have been consistent throughout the series.

“But now we have our third different center combination. Which shows you that they don’t know what their best combination is.

“They came back to the bottom two of the three that everyone thought should have started the first Test anyway. But they don’t seem to have the ability to challenge this lightning defense.

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