Lions 2013: 5 Things we learned from Lions v Western Force

first_img Still got it: Brian O’Driscoll shows a turn of pace for his first try against the Western Force in a 69-17 winBy Paul WilliamsA very different win to Hong KongTHE BRITISH and Irish Lions secured an all-too easy win against the Western Force – scoring nine tries in a 69 -17 drubbing. They dominated all of the core areas of the game – securing 57% of possession and 56% territory. The Lions had a satisfactory scrummage and a functioning lineout – running at 88.9% and 75% respectively. However, the win against the Force was very different to the victory against the Barbarians. This was less about set-piece and all about ball carrying. The Lion’s strike runners made colossal yardage in Perth. Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Tommy Bowe, George North and Mako Vunipola owned the gainline – it’s also worth mentioning that all of the Lions’ ball carriers benefitted from the exacting handling of Jonathan Sexton.Heaslip and O’Brien made significant gains in the wider channels – particularly when running a line on Sexton’s shoulders. Tommy Bowe and George North powered through the central channels, especially from first phase ball where both regularly chose to turn in off their wings, and Mako Vunipola made a significant contribution as Cian Healy’s replacement. As with the victory in Hong Kong this result needs to be taken in perspective. The Western Force selected a massively weakened squad. Their team selection was straight from the book of ‘Rugby Homeopathy’ – diluted to an unrecognisable state and largely ineffective.Go forward: Mako Vunipola impressed replacing Cian HealyA new backrow. A new approach.The Lions backrow were highly effective against the Western Force – particularly Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien. Heaslip was the Lion’s top ball carrier, he beat the most defenders and made the most clean breaks – he was also the team’s top tackler with 13.  Sean O’Brien also made a major impression on the opposition’s defensive line. O’Brien made a series of powerful, upright carries through the central channels and executed a valuable array of simple passes – a positive of his upright running style is that his hands and body angle are often shaped to pass.The performance of ‘Tuesday’s’ backrow presents Gatland with a difficult decision. The back-rows that featured against the Barbarians and the Western force were equally effective, but very different in execution. Tom Croft, Heaslip and O’Brien are an out and out ball carrying unit, with less emphasis on ground work. Whereas Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric arguably offered a balance between groundwork, defence and carrying – but less as all-out ball carriers. Picking the Lions’ test backrow will be Gatland’s most difficult decision.Halfpenny, the Lions test kickerLeigh Halfpenny’s kicking display in Perth was truly remarkable – 100% with 11 from 11. Halfpenny’s kicking stats may lead you to believe that he poked a series of simple 25 yards kicks from in front of the posts – he didn’t. Whilst five of his kicks were situated roughly in front of the posts, he faced another six very much from the touchlines – three from the left and three from right. What makes his display even more impressive was the execution of the kicks. There were no sweeping slices or raking hooks that started outside the posts and drifted back in – they were all straight ball flights from the moment the ball left his boot. Some of the Lions’ impressive performances in Perth need to be judged against the quality of the opponents – Halfpenny’s doesn’t. Goal kicking is a one man show, unaffected by the quality of the opposition – at the moment Leigh halfpenny is running that show. Set piece stable but nothing moreNothing will have concerned Warren Gatland about the Lions performance in Perth. But the set piece won’t have pleased him either – particularly the scrum. Whilst the scrum was competent, it was nothing more. You would have expected a front row of Dan Cole, Rory Best and Cian Healy to create more than merely stability in the scrum – particularly against a weakened Western Force front row.Another mild area of concern would have been the occasional miscommunication at the base of the scrum. A fast, clean No 8/No 9 pickup is a valuable weapon in the opposition’s 22, particularly on the blindside where it can create a momentary overlap. Whilst the Lion’s scrum in Perth won’t exactly be keeping Warren Gatland awake at night, it won’t be keeping Robbie Deans awake either.Precision: Leigh Halfpenny kicked a perfect 11 out of 11Western Force made a big mistake.Many have suggested that the Western Force’s decision to select a weakened team has undermined the Lions. In reality the Force have undermined no-one but themselves. Until this week most casual rugby fans in the UK wouldn’t have heard of the Western Force, let alone seen them play – the Western Force struggle to get noticed in their own country. PERTH, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 05: Leigh Halfpenny of the Lions lines up a kick during the tour match between the Western Force and the British & Irish Lions at Patersons Stadium on June 5, 2013 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) LATEST RUGBY WORLD MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DEALS This was their chance to show the world who they are and an opportunity to expose their brand to a wider market. Instead they chose to rest the majority of their players for Sunday’s game against the Waratahs – in a competition, which let’s not forget, they lie bottom of their conference, third from bottom in the overall table, won’t qualify for the playoffs and from a competition they can’t be relegated. The next opportunity to play the Lions comes around in twelve years’ time. Talk about missed opportunity…last_img read more

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JSU, UTM meet in conference play

first_imgSTEPPING UP: The Gamecocks are led by Kayne Henry and De’Torrion Ware. Henry is averaging 10.2 points and 6.7 rebounds while Ware is putting up 10.9 points and five rebounds per game. The Skyhawks have been led by Parker Stewart and Quintin Dove, who are scoring 20.1 and 19.3 per game, respectively.IN-CONFERENCE IMPROVEMENTS: The Skyhawks have scored 76.9 points per game and allowed 83.9 points per game against Ohio Valley opponents. Those are both improvements over the 65.2 points scored and 88.1 points given up to non-conference foes.OFFENSIVE THREAT: Stewart has been directly responsible for 45 percent of all UT Martin field goals over the last five games. Stewart has 37 field goals and 23 assists in those games.WINLESS WHEN: Jacksonville State is 0-7 when scoring fewer than 62 points and 9-8 when scoring at least 62.ACCOUNTING FOR ASSISTS: The Skyhawks have recently used assists to create buckets more often than the Gamecocks. UT Martin has 39 assists on 82 field goals (47.6 percent) across its past three contests while Jacksonville State has assists on 31 of 72 field goals (43.1 percent) during its past three games. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditJacksonville State (9-15, 4-7) vs. UT Martin (7-15, 3-8)Skyhawk Arena, Martin, Tennessee; Saturday, 5 p.m. ESTBOTTOM LINE: Jacksonville State pays visit to UT Martin in an OVC matchup. Each team last played this past Thursday. UT Martin won at home over Tennessee Tech 74-62, while Jacksonville State came up short in a 76-72 game at Southeast Missouri. Associated Press JSU, UTM meet in conference playcenter_img LAST FIVE: Jacksonville State has averaged 69.4 points per game over its last five games. The Gamecocks have given up 71.6 points per game over that stretch.___For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25___This was generated by Automated Insights, http://www.automatedinsights.com/ap, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.com February 7, 2020last_img read more

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Wisconsin swept by Nittany Lions in top-five matchup

first_imgHeartbreak spread throughout the University of Wisconsin Field House Wednesday as a long-awaited rematch against No.3 Penn State resulted in the Nittany Lions sweeping No.5 Wisconsin in straight sets, 25-17, 25-21, 25-22.Last December, Penn State defeated Wisconsin in the 2013 National Championship match 3-1, winning their fifth championship in seven years. Since then, both teams have studied one another in preparation for this rematch, and it was especially apparent for the Nittany Lions.The first set began in favor of the Badgers with a missed serve from Penn State’s setter, senior Micha Hancock. However, the Nittany Lions sided out on the very next play and proceeded to tally two more points off of kills from both outside hitters junior Megan Courtney and freshman Simone Lee.It was a tug-and-pull battle until an intense rally between the two teams resulted in a Penn State point, which spurred them on to rattle off four points in a row, forcing Wisconsin to call a timeout at a score of 4-9.Serving went back and forth, but Penn State remained the leader for the majority of the first set until a kill by senior outside hitter Ellen Chapman sparked some life into the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers never came within five points of Penn State for the remainder of the set, losing 25-17.Set two picked up right where set one left off. The Badgers allowed Penn State four points, three of which were errors at the net by three different Wisconsin players. This caused Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield to use his first timeout early.Wisconsin spent the rest of the second set playing catch up, until a series of net plays and serving runs by the Badgers began to creep up on the Nittany Lions. A serving run by Wisconsin setter sophomore Lauren Carlini, combined with an intense kill by Chapman, brought the home crowd to its feet with a tie score of 17-17.The tie did not last long, as Penn State’s outside hitter Courtney served for six points to put the Nittany Lions up 23-17. The six-point run consisted of a culmination of accuracy and precision by Penn State’s hitters and errors by Wisconsin.All hope seemed to be lost for the Badgers until a kill by middle blocker, sophomore Haleigh Nelson, gave UW a point from a key side out. A kill by the outside hitter freshman Kelli Bates from the left side, followed by an attacking error by Penn State’s Courtney, seemed to keep hope alive at a score of 24-21 in favor of the Nittany Lions.  But on the next play, outside hitter freshman Ali Frantti cranked a ball off of a Wisconsin block, ending the second set with a score of 25-21 for Penn State. Frantti went on to lead her team and tie her teammate Hancock with nine total kills for the match.Wisconsin came out strong and aggressive in the third set. Chapman began the match with a kill that gave the Badgers some momentum. The next two points belonged to Nelson on two kills of her own, giving the Badgers their largest lead of the entire match, since Hancock’s missed serve at the beginning of the match.The next few plays consisted of long rallies with incredible saves by both teams, causing a steady trade-off of one point a piece. Bates then made a hitting error, which tied the game at six. Immediately after her mistake, Bates pummeled an untouchable ball in the dead center of the court. She finished the match with nine kills, but with an unlikely seven errors, resulting in a .077 hitting percentage for the evening. Many of those errors were blocks by Penn State.“They’re a really solid team from all cylinders,” Bates said. “So I think it’s good to get good competition right off the bat for Big Ten season. We just have to get better.”The Badgers held a close lead in the third set until Frantti smashed down three kills in a row, accompanied by a well-executed tip by Hancock. This gave Penn State the lead for the first time in the set with the score 10-9.After a timeout from Wisconsin, Chapman became the shining star for the offense squashing three kills in just four points, accompanied by a combined block from her teammates, senior outside hitter Courtney Thomas and Nelson, to tie the game for the third time at 12-12. Chapman led the Badgers with 13 kills on Wednesday. However, it was not enough to push the Badgers to a victory.A kill by outside hitter redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney put Penn State ahead 17-16, and Wisconsin never regained the lead again. The third set ended in a tight score of 25-22.“[Penn State was] just better,” Sheffield said. “When we tied it up, they executed. They executed every time we got close.”Penn State seemed to strategically stay away from Wisconsin’s back row star and libero, junior Taylor Morey. Morey ended the game with only nine digs, when she came in averaging 5.56 per set which is the most in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions also shut down Wisconsin’s strongest all-around player in Thomas, who had just one kill.“They were focused in on shutting down the attack back behind,” Sheffield said. “So our slides, and Courtney [Thomas] on that side of the court; they were very determined to do that.”Although this was a difficult loss for the Badgers, the team still exists Wednesday’s match with an overall record of 9-2 and much of the Big Ten season left to play. If Wisconsin continues to improve there may be another Penn State rematch in store for them this season in postseason play.last_img read more

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