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Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 11:56 UK

Prop failings cost Jones - Thomas

Date: Saturday, 27 June Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria Kick-off: 1400 BST (1500 local time)
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live & online and score updates on BBC Sport website
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Alun Wyn Jones
Thomas says Jones paid the price for failings elsewhere in the pack

British and Irish Lions legend Delme Thomas says Alun Wyn Jones did not deserve to be dropped for Simon Shaw.

"Jones is very unlucky, his work rate around the field has been tremendous," said Thomas after Jones was left on the bench for the second South Africa Test.

"Last week, we had a hiding [in the scrum] in the first half, mainly due to Phil Vickery in the front row.

"Maybe the selectors thought there was not enough power coming from the second row, perhaps that's their thinking."

Despite his sympathy for fellow Welshman Jones, Thomas feels that 35-year-old England veteran Shaw will do a valuable job as the Lions try to square the three-match series in Pretoria.


"Shaw has been playing very, very well and he has vast experience," he said of the 6ft 8in, 19-stone second-rower.

Thomas, the 66-year-old former Llanelli lock, was a controversial choice for the 1966 Lions tour to New Zealand as he had not even won a Wales cap at the time.

But he forced his way into the second Test team at the expense of tour captain Mike Campbell-Lamerton and played at prop for the first time in his career in the third Test.

Thomas went on to feature in two Tests on the 1968 tour of South Africa and three on the 1971 trip to New Zealand.

Delme Thomas (right) in action with the 1971 Lions
Thomas established his legend credentials on three Lions tours

The 25-cap Wales international advised the class of 2009 on how to overcome the world champion Springboks.

"If you are beaten up front, you are a beaten side," Thomas told BBC Sport Wales.

"I know the game has changed but still the basics are the same.

"If you can't win up front you are on to a loser. That's what happened last week in the first half.

"We were 20-odd points behind, but when we changed the front row... we showed what we can do.

"We've got world-class backs behind the scrum.

"I'm sure if we can get half the ball that we had in the second half last week, we will win the game."

Thomas was delighted to see an all-Welsh front row brought in for the second Test, but feels that even more of his countrymen should have made the starting line-up.

"I'm a bit disappointed that Martyn Williams didn't get in the back row, plus Shane Williams on the wing," said the Bancyfelin man.

"I thought those two would have have had the nod to play this Saturday.

"Gethin Jenkins I reckon is one of the best props in the world at the moment.

"Adam Jones made a world of difference last Saturday when he came on in the second half.

"It was a shame that they didn't bring him on sooner.

"It's great to think that there will be three Welshmen in the front row. I think it's wonderful."

South Africa: F Steyn (Sharks); JP Pietersen (Sharks), A Jacobs (Sharks), J de Villiers (Stormers), B Habana (Bulls); R Pienaar (Sharks), F du Preez (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), B du Plessis (Sharks), J Smit (Sharks), B Botha (Bulls), V Matfield (Bulls), S Burger (Stormers), J Smith (Cheetahs), P Spies (Bulls).
Replacements: C Ralepelle (Bulls), D Carstens (Sharks), A Bekker (Stormers), D Rossouw (Bulls), H Brussow (Cheetahs), J Fourie (Lions), M Steyn (Bulls).

British and Irish Lions: R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), B O'Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues and Wales), L Fitzgerald (Leinster and Ireland); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), M Phillips (Ospreys and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues and Wales), M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), A Jones (Ospreys and Wales), S Shaw (Wasps and England), P O'Connell (Munster and Ireland, capt), T Croft (Leicester and England), D Wallace (Munster and Ireland), J Heaslip (Leinster and Ireland).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks and England), AW Jones (Ospreys and Wales), M Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England), R O'Gara (Munster and Ireland), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales).

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see also
Lions' Jones ready to tame Beast
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Phillips confident Lions can win
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South Africa 28-25 Lions
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Injured Byrne out of Lions tour
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Habana plays down altitude factor
25 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Banned Hines misses out for Lions
24 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Springboks recall flanker Burger
23 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Delme: The leaping Lion
11 Sep 02 |  Celtic
Thomas' Stradey heartbreak
20 Oct 08 |  Scarlets
Lions in South Africa
09 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
History of the Lions
02 May 08 |  Rugby Union
Lions history in pictures
21 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Scrum V's rugby history
11 Aug 07 |  Welsh
Mighty Boks: South African rugby
01 Oct 08 |  Rugby Union
Country profile: South Africa
21 Jun 11 |  Country profiles
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union

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