Lee Mears Column: "Being 1-0 up is huge but as we saw in 2009, the brutality will go up another level"

Lee Mears hopped on to TRU Talks to discuss the main topics ahead of the second Test between the British & Irish Lions and South Africa.

The team stood up in the first Test

A few of the talismanic players really stepped up. Courtney Lawes was just superb. Jack Conan, I don't think I have even seen him make a mistake in the whole of the tour and I think Warren [Gatland] said it in the press. He is a phenomenal individual and he is having such a good Test series so I think they all fronted up.

I think where we have gone wrong in the past is trying to overpower them [South Africa] and then you go away from your gameplan, whereas I felt we matched them and we started to play cleverly.

We just kept grinding them down and then you have got a bench to die for, haven't you?! You can just bring those players on and everyone who came on did a fantastic job and that is probably why Gatland has made changes because they made a difference.

Price out, Murray in

We had such good success with the kicking game. [Duhan] van der Merwe on top of [Cheslin] Kolbe, and we didn't really see Kolbe at all. Anthony Watson looked the most dangerous with ball in hand for me so I think the kicking game is probably even more important and when Conor Murray came on, it even shifted up a gear again.

I think that is probably what Warren is looking at and some of the decisions around the fringes. However, I thought Price played really well and kept the tempo up so it will be really interesting to see if Murray, from the start, can keep that tempo high.

What do the Springboks need to fix?

Would I say it [South Africa's gameplan] didn't work or would I say they ran out of steam? I'd say they ran out of steam, but there were a few glaring errors. We know Rassie Erasmus is a very good tactician and the kicking game on Kolbe was phenomenal so I think he will be looking at that.

I don't know if you have watched the 'Chasing the Sun' documentary, but just to listen to the move South Africa used against Wales and the way Rassie thinks means I do think he will come out with some changes, but I just don't think they have the ability to say 'we are going to keep the ball in hand for 80 minutes and run the Lions ragged.' 

I think they will just say they weren't physical enough for 80 minutes, let's go for longer!

Rassie's meltdown or masterstroke?

Is it a masterstroke or is he truly frustrated? I don't know. If all three of those key decisions had gone the other way last weekend, we would have been saying, 'I can't believe it!'

Someone is going to be moaning! I think it makes for the game and I think the coaches are trying to take the pressure off the players and keeping the focus on them. They can clown about if they need to!

The brutality of 2009 will come again on Saturday

Mentally for the Lions, it just takes the pressure off. Being 1-0 up is huge and I honestly think, and no disrespect to the South Africans, but I do think we will be able to get away with a 3-0. The tour that I was lucky enough to be involved in, the brutality goes up another level. You don't think it can, but it will for the second Test. 

They will be hurting this time and we were hurting last time. You know what is coming. Neither side are going to have a lot of opportunities to change the way they are going to set up, but it is going to be a very brutal Test match.

For the fans if we were out there, I'd love a 1-1 going into a decider but now I am at home, I wouldn't mind a 2-0!

 
 

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