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Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Saturday, 30 May 2009 13:29 UK

Royal XV v Lions as it happened



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By Ben Dirs

Ricardo on 606
"You can't take too many negatives from that. It's the first game and they're only in SA six days. Easy to lose the head criticising them but they won, they showed flashes of creativity and but for a few errors would have put 60 points on the board."

Robinho on 606
"After watching that, I think I might put €20 on the Boks to win the series 3-0!"

FULL-TIME Got to be honest, that was pretty poxy from the Lions. Everything you'd expect really from a side that's been together for a couple of weeks - very little cohesion, lots of silly mistakes, and only a handful of positives to take from it: O'Gara's kicking, Roberts and Byrne, and Flutey also looked razor-sharp when he came on. But I still spent most of the time watching it sounding like Cloughie. "Whooooa, that's rubbish!" To Ellis Park on Wednesday, and the Lions will have to step it up if they're not going to get a whupping.

79 mins: TRY - Royal XV 25-37 Lions

An all-English front row now with Sheridan, Mears and Vickery putting the squeeze on, but this Royal XV have got some stones, and they're still swinging punches, metaphorically of course. Flutey's looked lively since his introduction, and he releases O'Connell. And here's Phillips releasing Martyn Williams, and the Wales flanker arcs left before releasing O'Gara with a sweet inside pass and the Munster man is over under the posts. OOOOH! O'Gara kicks the extras and there's the hooter.

74 mins: Byrne has unleashed an absolute howitzer from his own 22 - he overhit it, but the winger touches it as it crosses the line. Bonus line-out for the Lions, and here they go on the rumble...

72 mins: PEN - Royal XV 25-23 Lions Lions right back in it, O'Gara slotting a penalty from right in front...

71 mins: Splendid kick from O'Gara for Bowe, who cuts inside and offloads to substitute centre Flutey. A couple of scything side-steps from the England man, but the ball is dislodged in the tackle just as he was looking for the killer pass.

67 mins: TRY - Royal XV 25-20 Lions Lee Byrne, who went on a dart a few minutes back, is one of the few men who can hold his head high after this shambles, and here he is again, chipping over the top, collecting the ball and reaching over to score. O'Gara, face like a beetroot, slots the extras and there are five points in it.

65 mins: TRY - Royal XV 25-13 Lions That could be that. Replacement Landman goes on the charge and the Lions defence is shredded. Bees Roux eventually piles over, and after one viewing, the man upstairs confirms it's a try. No extras from out wide, but try coming back from this...

63 mins: Replacement fly-half Riaan Viljoen shows that skills pay the bills with a sweet touch-kick. But that's enormous from Byrne, a dirty great size 10, fully 60m down the pitch. The last time the Lions lost a tour opener was in New Zealand in 1971. They ended up winning that series, so let's not start smashing up our Scaletrix yet.

61 mins: The Lions really need a score here, this is all getting a bit squeaky in the bottom department. Too intricate from Earls, and it doesn't come off and Makoena hacks through. O'Gara's kick is too long and it's a scrum back in their own half...

58 mins: Better from the Lions, with Roberts taking the ball on and Earls punching through the Royal XV midfield. But that's not good at the breakdown and Pretorius gives it some hammer and, just like that, the Lions are back in their own half.

54 mins: Adam Jones has had a decent day in the engine room, and that's another good drive from the Lions... but once again a Lions move breaks down, with Byrne being overturned in the tackle. But it's a penalty for the tourists, bit of nonsense around the fringes.

53 mins: It just gets worse and worse and worse. Shane Williams makes room for himself, reaches out for the line - and drops the ball.

51 mins: That should have been a try for the Lions there, but Shane Williams' final pass is behind Tommy Bowe and the move breaks down...

50 mins: The Lions backline need to summon the spirit of John Bentley here, but it's just not happening behind the scrum... it's not really happening in the scrum either. But that's better from Byrne, under the high ball, stepping out of a couple of tackles and almost releasing Blair.

46 mins: Boom! Saha's scored after 25 seconds at Wembley! I only tell you because there's nothing ruddy happening in the rugby at the moment... hang on a minute, the hosts have a penalty, bit of obstruction I believe... that's not great from Olivier though, who pushes it wide from longish-range...

42 mins: PEN - Royal XV 18-13 Lions
O'Gara gets the second half under way, and here's O'Connell on the barge... AND HERE'S SECONDS WITH AN INTERCEPTION! Ooooh, the whole Royal XV backline were off-side and instead of falling 15 points behind, O'Gara pulls three points back.

1455: Today's crowd might be a bit bobbins, but they're expecting a 60,000 sell-out when they play the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Wednesday. Right, here come the proper Lions, we'll have play in a minute or so...

Chris on 606
"First half was always going to be like that, it wouldn't surprise me now if the Lions really turn the heat up in the second half, especially now they have 40 minutes playing together under their belt. I can see them getting three-four unanswered tries, but really am worried about the fly-half situation, and also the lack of protection for Blair at the breakdown."

"Adam Jones looks knackered! He's done nothing! Every maul, he's been the first down and last to get up, dear God, even that lump Vickery's more mobile!"

RFU Minder on 606
"Jamie Roberts - a WELSHMAN - is the only player with any guile out there. when the going gets tough, the tough get going and Jamie is the man so far. I hope the Lions follow his lead and turn the screw."

40 mins: HALF-TIME Everyone reach for your tin helmets, that's some siren, and that was rustier than a 1981 Bedford motor home from the Lions. Horrible.

38 mins: TRY - Royal XV 18-10 Lions
The Lions need a try here before half-time... and here it is. Tommy Bowe hits the line at pace, O'Gara with the inside pass, and the Irish winger trundles over. O'Gara with the extras, and the Lions are back in the race.

37 mins: As it is, Jamie Roberts will be having a beer on his own tonight - once again he shrugs off a couple of tacklers and sets up a Lions penalty. Once again, however, O'Gara kicks for position...

35 mins: It's very messy at the set-piece, with the Royal XV seeming to collapse the scrum, but that's unbelievable - strike against the head and Pretorius slams it miles down the ground. I cannot stress how bad this is from the Lions - Wallace takes the ball on and spills it once again.

34 mins: The maul, like an old friend, is back, and the Lions use it. O'Gara grubbers, and Pretorius appears to block the runners. But they're called back for a scrum by the referee.

29 mins: Turnover ball, Wallace this time the culprit. But Pretorius is charged down - that was pedestrian from the number nine - and he's charged down by opposite number Blair... but nothing's going for the tourists and the ball dribbles out of play. Deary me, another penalty and the hosts clear...

26 mins:TRY - Royal XV 18-3 Lions
Rees is the next Lion to make a ricket, going too long at the line-out and missing everyone. The Royal XV turn the screw, spewing through the Lions midfield, and Lee Byrne is forced to carry the ball out six metres out... woeful from the Lions, they're chewed up at the breakdown, bit of mauling from the hosts, and Rayno Barnes burrows over. Not much in way of defence there...

25 mins: Rees is the next Lion to make a ricket, going too long at the line-out and missing everyone. The Royal XV turn the screw, spewing through the Lions midfield, and Lee Byrne is forced to carry the ball out six metres out...

23 mins:PEN - Royal XV 13-3 Lions
Adam Jones might want to think about getting himself a Chris Lewis, that barnet of his must be seriously uncomfortable in African climes. This is concerning for the Lions, they're being sorted out by the Royal XV at the moment. David Wallace spills the ball in contact and that's another penalty - and Olivier pings it over. Apologies, he also kicked that conversion... O'Connell, we need a leader...

17 mins:TRY - Royal XV 8-3 Lions
This is not a very wise start from the Lions - Coetzee with splendid hands in midfield, the Lions unlocked, and Wilhelm Kock blunderbusses over from 15 metres out. Paul O'Connell's got to settle this down. Olivier kicks the extras.

16 mins: Olivier attempts a long-range drop goal, but it's handbag stuff. Oh Lady lay, you'll struggle to find a shakier debut than this - Earls under the high ball and it's straight through him like a dose of salts.

14 mins: Shane Williams with the counter-attack from under his own posts, and that's nice hands from Roberts, but that's not clever again from Earls out on the right wing - he attempts an inside pass when he should have set the ball up in the tackle and knocks on again.

11 mins: O'Gara with a fine kick, but there are about three Lions players ahead of him when the leaves his boot. This Royal XV prop, the gloriously named Albertus Buckle, sounds like he should own a pawnbrokers or something in a Dickens novel, but there he is, beasting every Lion he lays eyes on. Lee Byrne spies the ball falling out of this magnificent African sky and takes the ball into a ruck. That's another spill from Earls though, shaky old start from the young Irishman...

9 mins:PEN - Royal XV 3-3 Lions
Bit of pressure from the Royal XV, Pretorius the scrum-half thrusting into the heart of the Lions defence and Naas Olivier the fly-half taps a penalty over from 10 meters out. Honours even...

6 mins:PEN - Royal XV 0-3 Lions
Another penalty for the Lions, a Royal XV player holding onto the ball at the breakdown, and this time O'Gara stops playing silly beggars and slots the first points of the tour from a few metres out.

5 mins: Jamie Roberts makes the most of quick ball off the back of a line-out, blasting through the Royal XV midfield. The Lions earn a penalty, but O'Gara curiously opts to tap and go from 10 metres out and Keith Earls spills the pass.

3 mins: Big drive from the Lions, but they're pinged and the Royal XV clear... but they fail to find touch and O'Connell has his first rumble of the tour. Penalty Lions, and Ronan O'Gara finds his range with a safe kick into touch.

1 minute: We're off. It's a Royal XV kick-off and Mike Blair is the first Lions player to get his mitts on the ball. That's not too clever though from the resulting ruck, the Scotland scrum-half getting his kick charged down. No dramas though, the ball spins out of play.

1400: Paul O'Connell of Munster and Ireland leads his men out, cradling a cuddly Lion in Willie John McBride style, and here come the Royal XV. Not much of a crowd, as I say, but these boys have still got plenty of softening up to do... expect a bit of roughhousing...

1354: Not much of a crowd in in Rustenburg, I get bigger audiences watching me playing badders down Hornchurch sports centre. There's O'Driscoll having a yawn-up in the stands, looks like he's still feeling the affects of that Heineken Cup hangover. Decent British contingent in, however, and we should point out that the main reason for this small crowd is probably because the Bulls are in action in the Super 14 final down the road.

Lions: Lee Byrne (Ospreys/Wales), Tommy Bowe (Ospreys/Ireland), Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales); Ronan O'Gara (Munster/Ireland), Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland); Andrew Sheridan (Sales Sharks/England), Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales), Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England), Paul O'Connell (Munster/Ireland - captain), Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales), David Wallace (Munster/Ireland).
Replacements: Lee Mears (Bath/England), Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England), Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland), Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales), Stephen Jones (Scarlets/Wales), Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England).

1347: The Saffers are 4-11 favourites for this series, and I hear most of the smart money is on a 3-0 whitewash. Still, plenty to play for in this opening fixture, every man Jack will be giving it bunches.

1342: Some heart-warming shots of BOD kicking it in the townships. Good to see that sort of stuff going on. Don't rate his moves much though, he looked like my old dear after half a dozen Skols. I should correct myself, there are now only eight debutants what with the changes that have been made.

1337: Belting documentary on the 1974 Lions Invincibles the other day, stick it on your laptop while you're watching the game. Looked like a right old razz-up, and you wouldn't want to meet that lot in a kebab house after kicking out time.

1333: Nine debutants in the Lions squad today, including Ireland's Keith Earls at outside centre. The tourists' opening opponents are largely drawn from the Griquas, winners of South Africa's second-tier domestic tournament the Vodacom Cup. Get chatting on 606 and via text. Looks like a barnstormer of a day in Rustenburg, the sky over there is having a blue-off with London.

1330: Hello you. It's the first game of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa today, and you can read all about it via this internet letter. The big news team-wise is that number eight Andy Powell and replacement Stephen Ferris are out injured, meaning David Wallace replaces Powell while Jamie Heaslip comes in for Ferris.

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see also
Royal XV 25-37 Lions
30 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Royal XV v Lions photos
30 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions in South Africa photos
28 May 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union

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