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Preview: Brumbies v Lions

 Jun 17,2013
Written by: Adam Kyriacou
 

Six of the Lions' starting XV that will face the Brumbies on Tuesday not being in the original 37 sums up what has been a tough run for the tourists.

Ryan Grant, Rory Best, Shane Williams, Billy Twelvetrees, Brad Barritt and Christian Wade are those in question for the last game pre-Brisbane.

Concern remains over a few probable starters for the first Test against the Wallabies, notably Jamie Roberts, Manu Tuilagi and George North. But the Lions aren't in dire straits just yet and it's not like Australia has a clean bill of health - flanks Scott Higginbotham and David Pocock we sympathise.

With this Tuesday selection though comes the feeling that the Test team is wrapped in cotton wool and only a training field mishap (sorry) would change Warren Gatland's thinking ahead of Saturday. Currently it looks like being eight Welsh, four Irish and three English running out in the XV.

Here is how we see it, North's fitness permitting:

15 Leigh Halfpenny
14 Alex Cuthbert
13 Brian O'Driscoll
12 Jonathan Davies
11 George North
10 Jonathan Sexton
9 Mike Phillips
8 Jamie Heaslip
7 Sam Warburton
6 Tom Croft
5 Paul O'Connell
4 Alun-Wyn Jones
3 Adam Jones
2 Tom Youngs
1 Mako Vunipola

Tuesday though will by no means be a cakewalk for the tourists, far from it, as this home side hasn't been too badly affected by international calls. Residency issues mean that Super Rugby's co-leader in the try chart, Henry Speight, lines up in a dangerous backline that includes Jesse Mogg, a hard-running Tevita Kuridrani and the intelligent Matt Toomua. Former Wallaby Clyde Rathbone also starts on the back of a two-try showing last time out.

Such a strong backline makes this side a tough nut to crack for the Lions, who will have had little time to familiarise themselves amid the shock arrival of former Wales finisher Williams. Williams has had more send-offs than Vinnie Jones it seems and what better way would it be for the veteran to bow out from his British and Irish Lions career with a series victory.

Despite the disruption though, wing Williams and the Lions will not be getting ahead of themselves as memories of 2001 come flooding back. That Canberra classic will be tough to match but it promises to be of a similar tight scoreline in front of a packed out stadium. 

Ones to watch:

For Brumbies: In their most recent Super Rugby outing, the form of number eight Peter Kimlin was quite outstanding while Henry Speight knows his way to the try-line. But there is a hugely under-rated fly-half in the Brumbies' midst and that is Matt Toomua. Still only 23, Toomua shows maturity beyond his years and has been vital in securing a play-off spot.

For British & Irish Lions: Where do you start? Four new faces in the backline and we pick out Billy Twelvetrees. While the focus is set to be on Shane Williams and also Christian Wade, Twelvetrees could well be a dark horse for a Test spot in the series run-in due to uncertainty over Jamie Roberts and Manu Tuilagi. Argentina saw what he's capable of.

Head-to-head: The battle between the full-backs is one to watch as Jesse Mogg takes on Rob Kearney. Mogg can count himself unlucky not to be in the Wallaby mix for the upcoming series after a fine couple of years while Kearney is eager just to get minutes under his belt.

Prediction: Familiar combinations face unfamiliar at Canberra Stadium. Brumbies by 3!

The teams:

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Peter Kimlin (c), 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Scott Sio, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 Ruan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Jean-Pierre Smith, 18 Chris Cocca, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Mark Swanepoel, 22 Robbie Coleman, 23 Zack Holmes.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stuart Hogg, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Richie Gray, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Alex Corbisiero, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Simon Zebo.

Date: Tuesday, June 18
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.30 local (10:30 BST, 09:30 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)

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