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O'Brien happy to atone with rout of Rebels

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Sean O'Brien. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Sean O'Brien. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Sean O'Brien. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

THE British and Irish Lions midweek wonders exorcised the demons from their defeat to the ACT Brumbies last week with a five-try 35-0 whitewash of the Melbourne Rebels yesterday.

It was the boost the Lions needed badly after hearing of Paul O'Connell's end to the tour and how Australian captain James Horwill somehow escaped any sanction at all for a dangerous stamp to the head of Alun Wyn Jones in the first test.

The Rebels felt the wrath from the Lions only defeat to The Brumbies the previous Tuesday, the tries coming from scrum-half Conor Murray, wing Sean Maitland, replacement nine Ben Youngs, a penalty try and the irrepressible Sean O'Brien.

The Ireland flanker was asked was it down to being coach-driven or player-led? "I think it was a bit of both, but mainly the players. We were pretty pi**ed off, to be honest, last Tuesday night.

"We wanted to put things right tonight with a good performance. To go out and work hard for each other was the big thing, not try and make it an individual thing.

"If the team played well, obviously, the individuals had to play well.

"It was more about our performance to make sure what we spoke about during the week, we went out there and did."

The way New Zealander Chris Pollock refused to allow a contest at the breakdown in the first test contrasted with another Kiwi Glen Jackson's tendency to let the players compete there yesterday.

It is no wonder The Lions are confused. It will just come down to researching the personal interpretation of South African whistler Craig Joubert in the second test and, perhaps, making selection decisions based on what this throws up.

 

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"It is a bit of a grey area over here with what way the refs are going to ref it," added O'Brien.

"We said we'd deal with that ourselves tonight, just try and get past the ball and take a body out from what was in front of us.

"It was a bit better tonight, certainly from last Tuesday night anyway."

The problem for O'Brien is that he will go toe-to-toe with Dan Lydiate for the bench role in the second test, with the latter leading the tackle count against Melbourne.

There was a positive sign for O'Brien in his removal before Lydiate yesterday, although he had received a blow to the head which could also explain his withdrawal.

While Lydiate is a defensive stalwart, O'Brien certainly offers greater all-round skills and, certainly, as a gain line threat to The Wallabies.

England fly-half Owen Farrell showed a level of composure on the ball that surpassed anything he had produced in the tour.

"I have been asked to play a bit wider and a bit flatter and take it to the line a bit more which I am comfortable with and I want to do that," he said.

"It is a healthy battle.

"Jonny (Sexton) is an outstanding player and I am learning a lot off him. If it keeps going like this, I will be extremely happy by the end of this tour."

You just have to wonder how the likes of Farrell will benefit for England from what he has learned from working with Jonathan Sexton on this tour.

The Englishman certainly looked like Sexton in disguise in how he marshaled the three-quarter line, took up a position much closer to the gain line, went with a quick tap penalty from deep and varied his tactical kicking.


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