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Aisle be Back: The Lions win at the death and the All Blacks are named

Above: The Wellington Lions retained the Jonah Lomu Memorial Trophy on Thursday night with a 29-22 win over Counties Manukau. 

  • By Kevin McCarthy

Two tries in three minutes and the Lions came roaring home at the death last night against Counties-Manukau.

Talk about taking the win and all that, but the coaches will probably wish the side might leave the heroics for earlier in the match.

Still early days I guess, but the Lions feel like they’ll operate in the middle of the pack.

As for scheduling, it’s nine days till they play again. It’s either crunched up or spread out for sides in this hyperspeed provincial championship.


Thanks for your service Owen Franks. Thanks for your honest uncertainty, Liam Squire.

But Ngani, Ngani, Ngani. Why, why, why!

Of course, the simple answer is that 5 into 4 doesn’t go.

Which is true, but doesn’t explain much beyond simple maths.

So at second-five, the form player who has busted down a few doors, and scored some big points at the highest level, is still not quite good enough.

I mean, I still struggle to understand why Laumape is not in the squad.

I get that Lienert-Brown is there on both class, and versatility.

I get that SBW is there on pedigree,

I get that Goodhue is the first choice centre.

But I honestly don’t get that Ryan Crotty is there. No criticism of him as a player. Or that he has become an injury and concussion magnet.

Now what is going to be the first-string pairing for the All Blacks. SBW and Goodhue, am I right?

Leaving Crotty and ALB for other lesser matches.

The William Webb Ellis Trophy.

They’re not carbon copy combinations, but they do have the same-same feel. So presumably the All Blacks will play similar style whatever pairing they field.

Meaning they won’t exactly be offering any different threat that what we know.

Laumape on the other hand is the power second-five, the sort of different weapon that you’d think the All Blacks would want in their toolbox – even if it means a loss of versatility.

It does feel like the risk factor is being over-stressed in midfield. Half the personnel are light on play and injury prone.

If it does turn to custard fast, then midfield could again be a world cup Achilles heel.

Or of course, Ngani Laumape will be on a plane to Japan fast. When he should have been there in the first place.

Ultimately it feels like because he’s performed so well for going on two seasons, that it gives the selectors a carte blanche to risk it with SBW and Crotty.  A cruel kind of compliment.

As for the rest, well, we will find out. Certainly the squad’s good enough to win the whole darn thing. Which at this stage, doesn’t tell you that much at all, and is certainly true of several other sides.

As we should all now by now, who you select is only part of the puzzle. They’ll be curve balls a plenty to come and almost certainly one defining moment where you’re either staying in – or heading home.

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