Preview: B&I Lions vs Western Force … And so it begins

THE FACTS:RW Stamp

This is it, it what the Lions have been waiting for for four long years, the Lions are back and licking their lips at the thought of taking on one of the lesser Australian teams.

After smashing hapless Barbarians last weekend, the Lions now turn their attention to Perth’s Western Force who have been priming themselves for the match in Super Rugby.

The Lions will be looking to set the bar high in this match, send out a warning to the Wallabies that they mean business. The spotlight will be on the backs in this match with Leigh Halfpenny, Brian O’Driscoll (captain) and Jonathan Sexton. They will be looking to prove to their coaches that they have what it takes to match up with the speed and flare that they will undoubtedly encounter when they line up opposite the Wallabies.

For the Force, they will not only be looking to stem the tide like past Western Australian sides, but to prove to their fans and the world that they can hold their own against the best in the world. A good showing here will do wonders for a side that have lacked cutting edge and finish ability over recent history. The weight of the match will fall upon the shoulders of their six test players captain Matt Hodgson, prop Salesi Ma’afu, No.8 Richard Brown, scrumhalf Brett Sheehan and flyhalf Sam Norton-Knight and All Black Alby Mathewson. If they can stand up to the imminent onslaught, they may just have a chance to make history.

The History:

The Force were not around last time the Lions toured Australia, however they have dominated all Western Australian has had to throw at them in the past.

2001: B&I Lions won 116-10
1989: B&I Lions won 44-0
1966: B&I Lions won 60-3
1930: B&I Lions won 71-3

The Head to Heads:

There are two massive stand out match ups in this fixture, on in the front row and one in the centres.

The Lions will be looking to put preasure on the Force at scrum time and attack off set pieces.  The relatively unknown front row of Salesi Ma’afu, James Hilterbrand and Salesi Manu for the force will be under huge pressure from Dan Cole, Rory Best and Cian Healy of the Lions.

In the centres Ed Stubbs and Chris Tuatara-Morrison will have the nightmare task of trying to contain two of the more explosive and physical backs in world rugby in the form of Brian O’Driscoll and Manu Tuilagi (B&I Lions)… good luck to them, they are going to need it!

The Prediction:

This match has a Lions try fest written all over it. The Force aren’t all that bad they will probably hold their own for the first 30-40 minutes as they teams sniff each other out, but the second half will be all Lions. Lions win by 20 points

The Time:

Kick-off: 18.00 (11.00 BST time; 10.00 GMT)

The Teams:

Western Force: 15 Sam Christie, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Ed Stubbs, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Corey Brown, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8  Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Phoenix Battye, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Salesi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Sione Kolo, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Nick Haining, 23 Junior Rasolea.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O’Driscoll (captain), 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland.

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