Sport Rugby

Saturday 16 December 2017

Beefed-up Lions must get fliers on ball, insists Bowe

Conor George

Conor George

TOMMY BOWE is hopeful that the addition of brawn to the side will facilitate the Lions playing more rugby and creating more opportunities.

Bowe spent most of last weekend's game defending. Australia enjoyed 68pc possession thanks primarily to a game plan that called for the Lions to kick the ball back to the Wallabies more often than not.

Warren Gatland will still demand that his players kick in behind the Australian defence – Jonathan Davies' kicking game is one of the reasons Gatland offered for selecting him ahead of Brian O'Driscoll – but Bowe is hopeful the Lions will also seek to play more rugby.

"I hope with these lads coming in it will help us get over the gain-line, get some ball because that's what I want in any game," said the Ireland wing.

"We need to get on the ball more. I don't think George (North) or I really got the ball last week, and we need to get involved more.

"Rob Howley has spoken to us this week and we need to go looking for it more. But we also need to hold onto the ball and have a bit more possession."

TACTICS

Bowe is hoping that a change of tactics this weekend will be key to unlocking the Wallabies defence – "we have to play more rugby" – and while the Lions were able to defend for long spells last weekend, he is adamant they must show more attacking nous this time around.

"This week we can do a lot of damage, certainly with a lot of the players we've got in this team. There are huge ball-carriers there. If we can hold on to the ball, keep battering over the top of the Aussies, hopefully it will cause a bit of damage."

Bowe confirmed that the pressure of 16 years without a series win is weighing heavily.

The Ulsterman is usually one of the most relaxed in the squad but admitted to feeling nervous ahead of this game.

"There is a huge amount of emotion in the squad at the moment," he said.

"There is incredible hype and excitement surrounding this last match – so many people hope we can finish it off.

"I'm nervous already about the match, from the excitement about what is at stake.

"I've been on Lions tours and played in Tests, so I can maybe enjoy it a bit more, but the nerves and excitement are there about the prospect of doing something that hasn't been done for such a long time.

"Losing last weekend was heart-breaking but we've dealt with it, we've regrouped and we'll make sure we leave everything out there on the pitch."

Bowe is also among those who believes that the emotional cost of last weekend's effort will take its toll on Australia and that it might shift the advantage to the men in red jerseys.

"You could see how much it meant to them when they won last weekend; they were jumping on each other," he said.

"You could see from their emotion how tough they found that week, having lost the first match.

"We feel a little bit how they did after the first week.

"There's a lot of emotion within the team after we lost last weekend, we're going to come with everything and we'll see how Australia come."

Irish Independent

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