The British and Irish Lions take on Super 15 side the ACT Brumbies in Canberra this morning in their toughest examination of the Australian tour ahead of Saturday’s first Test.

None of the players starting today are likely to be given the nod for a place in the XV in Brisbane but Warren Gatland’s troops will be determined to maintain the momentum gathered in their warm-up matches so far.

Sir Clive Woodward will be bringing his own unique analysis and insight live right here but you can also send me your thoughts on email to

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FT: Brumbies 14 Lions 12


Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, Clyde Rathbone, Matt Toomua, Ian Prior; Ruan Smith, Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio, Leon Power, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Colby Faingaa, Peter Kimlin (capt).

Replacements: Josh Mann-Rea, Jean-Pierre Smith, Chris Cocca, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jordan Smiler, Mark Swanepoel, Robbie Coleman, Zack Holmes.

Try: Kuridrani. Pen: Mogg 3.

Lions: Rob Kearney; Christian Wade, Brad Barritt, Billy Twelvetrees, Shane Williams (Simon Zebo); Stuart Hogg (Owen Farrell), Ben Youngs (Conor Murray); Ryan Grant (Alex Corbisiero), Rory Best (capt) (Richard Hibbard), Matt Stevens (Dan Cole), Ian Evans, Richie Gray, Sean O’Brien (Dan Lydiate), Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau.

Pen: Hogg 2, Farrell 2.



12.40pm: So what have we learned from that? Well, very little in the sense that none of Saturday’s expected XV featured today. Few of today’s starters – perhaps with the exception of Rob Kearney and Toby Faletau – laid down a marker for future selection. The impact of the bench was outstanding – with Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling in particular impressing – but that merely served to show how poor the starting pack in particular had performed. The main concern for Lions will be how this defeat affects morale heading into Saturday. For that, we can only wait and see. Join us from 10am on Saturday for live coverage with Sir Clive Woodward, Chris Foy and Luke Benedict all in Brisbane. Thanks for reading.

12.31pm: Warren Gatland, talking to Will Greenwood on Sky Sports, says: ‘The first half performance wasn’t good enough so we got what we deserved.’

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘Massive win for Brumbies, have to say the better team won and this will ensure Lions will be under no doubt what is coming at them Saturday – Lions will be very different team come Saturday but this is a big loss.’

CHRIS FOY IN CANBERRA: ‘The Lions came close to completing a dramatic comeback here but in truth they did not deserve to win this game. Gatland will suggest that defeat can be tolerated if the ultimate outcome is Test series victory, but it would be wrong to ignore the psychological impact of this result. The tourists had built up ominous momentum and at just the wrong time their morale and aura has been damaged.’

Clattered: Kuridrani crunches into Brad Barritt

Clattered: Kuridrani crunches into Brad Barritt

FULL-TIME: That’s it! The Brumbies go wild… That’s a fine scalp from them and on top of their brilliant Super Rugby performances.

80 mins: The Brumbies are going through the phases with the clock ticking down…

78 mins: The Brumbies have a scrum on the Lions 22 now after Zeno’s attempted quick lineout doesn’t go 5 metres. That could be that.

77 mins: A free-kick is awarded and it’s another scrum… It’s wheeled and stolen!

76 mins: The Lions have a scrum just outside the Brumbies 22…

75 mins: Murray is pinged for holding on 5 metres and that chance slips by. This is there for the taking though, the Brumbies are out on their feet.

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘The Brumbies have made a big mistake by stopping playing their game and just trying to hang on. It is really poor tactics from them. There is plenty of time for the Lions to win this.’

74 mins: The Lions have a lineout just inside the Brumbies 22…

CHRIS FOY IN CANBERRA: ‘It has been a difficult occasion for the newly-arrived English midfield pair, to say the least. Billy Twelvetrees has been superbly shackled and repeatedly driven back by the Brumbies’ aggressive, physical defence and Brad Barritt has not had an impact at all as a carrier. But at least the Saracens centre has put body and soul into chasing kicks, which can’t be said of all his team-mates.’

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘The whole complection of the game has been transformed by the substitution of the hookers. The scrums are now excellent and the lineout looks solid. The whole game has changed because of Richard Hibbard.’

Come in No 8: Faletau gallops through the midfield

Come in No 8: Faletau gallops through the midfield

Brumbies 14 LIONS 12 (Farrell pen)

A beautiful strike from Farrell and the Lions are within a score now.

71 mins: Penalty Lions! Suddenly the lineout has become a strength after another steal there from Gray and Farrell will go for the posts…

69 mins: Toomua wins a kicking duel with Kearney and Hibbard will thrown in from the Lions’s 22 with just over 10 minutes left… That’s better. You feel for Best but he surely can be nowhere near the Test squad after that performance today. Zebo is on for Williams on the wing.

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘What a difference the fresh forwards have made – the Brumbies suddenly seem to be under pressure and are starting to make mistakes. That could be the big momentum shift in the game. The tourists’ bench is far stronger and the referee has just started to rule things in their favour.’

CHRIS FOY IN CANBERRA: ‘The Lions sent on the front-row replacements en masse in the 57th minute and they made a stunning, immediate impact. Just prior to their arrival, the visitors’ scrum was shoved back several metres, but the next set-piece clash saw the Lions make a 10m gain and earn a penalty, but Hogg’s kick hit the post. The lineout problems continue though, as Hibbard’s first throw was off target.’

Brumbies 14 LIONS 9 (Farrell pen)

No mistake from Farrell and the Lions will be scenting victory now…

63 mins: There’s a real urgency about the Lions now and Farrell with have a chance with the penalty after a breakdown infringement…

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘It is the Lions’ scrum and lineout that is not going well tonight – hence why the Lions’ back row are struggling. Warren Gatland has just brought on a load of fresh legs and cool heads and that may help. The front five that started the game are not in the same league as Saturday’s Test front five.’

60 mins: On come Geoff Parling, Conor Murray and Owen Farrell for Evans, Youngs and Hogg. The changes have made an instant impact and the Lions are beginning to turn the screw here…

59 mins: What a scrum that was… the now front row have absolutely mullered the Brumbies there and Hogg has a chance 10 metres in from the side to move the Lions within a converted try… Off the post again!

57 mins: Here come the changes… the whole front row is swapped and Dan Lydiate comes on for Sean O’Brien, who is carrying a knock from the first half.

Brumbies 14 LIONS 6 (Hogg pen)

Mercifully, Garces awards the Lions a penalty at the breakdown from the restart and Hogg cleanly strikes through the middle of the posts.

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘The Lions need to realise that, in the land of Aussie Rules and rugby league, most Australians are very good under the high ball. They are totally over-kicking at the moment and these guys are dealing with it comfortably. The tourists are also losing their shape completely.’

BRUMBIES 14 (Mogg pen) Lions 3

No mistake from Mogg and this game is slipping away from the Lions now. Changes are desperately needed but as Chris says: will Gatland gamble?

53 mins: It is all getting very scrappy out there and Ryan Grant is pinged this time for pulling a Brumbies forward out of a maul with a headlock…

CHRIS FOY IN CANBERRA: ‘There is a real quandary for the Lions coaches here; how to use their replacements. In the interests of trying to save this game, Richard Hibbard must come on at once for captain Rory Best, whose game has totally fallen apart, but with an eye on the first Test, Gatland and Co may not want to risk the Welshman and others until much later.’

BRUMBIES 11 (Mogg pen) Lions 3

Two penalties at the breakdown in quick succession and Mogg slots the latter home from in front of the posts.

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘I hope Stuart Hogg has a good half now. You feel for him as he should be playing full back or wing and I cannot imagine Toby Flood or Dan Biggar are enjoying watching this. It is a very big 40 minutes for the Lions as they need to arrive in Brisbane unbeaten.’

44 mins: That wasn’t straight from Best again but Jerome Garces lets him get away with it. No matter, the Brumbies win a penalty at the breakdown.

42 mins: Neat hands from the Lions in tight spaces nearly sets Wade clear down the right wing but he’s halted by a high tackle. Penalty Lions. They go for the lineout… Lost again! Surely Gatland has to use the bench here, the lineout has been nothing short of shambolic.

On the charge; Full back Rob Keanrey burst forward

On the charge; Full back Rob Keanrey burst forward

41 mins: Not straight AGAIN from Rory Best. What is going on?!

41 mins: Stuart Hogg kicks off. No changes from either side…

CHRIS FOY IN CANBERRA: ‘Given the run of play in that first half, the Lions will be mighty relieved to be going into the break just five points behind. But this is undoubtedly a full-blown crisis. At times, the visitors have been shambolic. There has been an on-going problem with slow ball at the breakdown; the Brumbies have been spoiling well at the rucks and when they haven’t, the Lions have stalled to set up pods of forwards for the next drive. They have been too easy to defend against. Gatland will demand more intensity and pace, or the unbeaten record will be gone tonight.’

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘As the players ran in for half-time there was an interesting chat between Lions captain Rory Best in his Irish accent and the French referee – I’m not sure either of them understand what is going on at the breakdown and talking to each other has not helped the situation.’

Crowded out: Peter Kimlin (left) and Tevita Kuridrani tackle Toby Faletau

Crowded out: Peter Kimlin (left) and Tevita Kuridrani tackle Toby Faletau

HALF-TIME: A frustrating 40 minutes for the Lions there. We knew the backline was cobbled together at the last minute but the problems have been in the pack – especially at the lineout and the breakdown. The rolling maul looks our best weapon and the handling has been sharp but the Lions need to step up a couple of gears otherwise that 100 per cent record will be a thing of the past.

BRUMBIES 8 LIONS 3 (Hogg pen)

Hogg replies to Mogg then and that’s half-time. Plenty of room for improvement…

40 mins: Penalty! Hands in the ruck and Hogg has a chance to reduce the deficit to five points once more…

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘This is also the first time we’ve seen the Lions struggle at the breakdown, especially on their own ball. A lot of talk to the referee is to try to sort it out but you get the feeling he is getting pretty annoyed with the players. You wonder how the guys who have only just arrived in Australia will be feeling out there.’

Into the cauldron: Hogg and Williams jog out on to the field

Into the cauldron: Hogg and Williams jog out on to the field

BRUMBIES 8 (Mogg pen) LIONS 0

Straight down the middle from Mogg, for whom distance is clearly never an issue.

39 mins: Another penalty at the breakdown goes in the Brumbies’ favour and Mogg will have a go this time with his left boot…

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘The most interesting thing for me is the sheer speed all 15 Brumbies get to each break down – it is the best I have seen on tour. If Australia are as quick and clinical as this it will be a battle royal at the breakdown in the first Test.’

Watching brief: England head coach Stuart Lancaster is at the Canberra Stadium

Watching brief: England head coach Stuart Lancaster is at the Canberra Stadium

37 mins: O’Brien is pinged for holding on and this should be an easy one for Ian Prior… He’s missed it! No-one has split the posts yet in four attempts for either side.

CHRIS FOY IN CANBERRA: ‘The Lions are playing as 15 individuals at this stage, without any cohesion at all. This is the sort of occasion when on-field leadership is desperately needed, but no-one appears to be providing it. Captain Rory Best is no doubt pre-occupied by his lineout problems, but he and other senior players need to make their voices heard, to help the tourists get a toe-hold in this game.’

34 mins: This is getting embarrassing for Best. That was nowhere near straight… The backs just haven’t had a platform to work with.

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: ‘The Brumbies play a very simple game very well, it is all about phase after phase of quick, crisp play. The back line look very sharp. They keep going the same way trying to find miss-matches – and there are certainly some holes in the Lions defence.’

LUKE BENEDICT IN BRISBANE: ‘A lot of kicking from both sides and for the first time Lions seem to be having problems with their set piece – neither scrum or lineout are up to the standards we have seen. Outside the set piece, the Lions will be pleased with the way the game is progressing because this is very much a scratch backline.’

31 mins: Bit of a concern for the Lions as Sean O’Brien receives treatment for the knock. Mogg has a penalty from 56m to extend the Brumbies’ lead… It’s wide.

28 mins: The Lions win a lineout! Vital they build on that now because it has massively hindered them so far. It’s a bit scrappy out there at the moment with half-chances few and far between.

CHRIS FOY IN CANBERRA: ‘Plenty of problems for the Lions in the opening quarter – notably a malfunctioning lineout, which shows why Rory Best wasn’t picked in the original squad. He and his jumpers appear to be out of sync. Christian Wade has endured a tough first 20 minutes and the whole back-line looks dis-jointed, which is no surprise given that some of them have been in the country for less than 48 hours.’

24 mins: The Lions survive a spell of Brumbies pressure as Kearney does well to hold his ground out wide and force the handling error.