Sunday, 30 June 2013

Lions 15 Australia 16

It was Australia's turn to win by the other side missing a last minute kick last night.  Leigh Halfpenny tried an ambitious penalty from his own half in the 80th minute, but it fell short.  Australia had taken the lead with the only try of the game after 75 minutes.  In truth, the Lions were reliant on penalties throughout and never looked like crossing the opposition's line.   As a Scottish supporter, YIC is not entirely unaccustomed to this.  Never mind, it's on to Sydney for the all-important decider. 

YIC had a ticket to the "Lions Den" supporter village before the game.  This dispensed free beer (hurrah) with music including Flower of Scotland and Bread of Heaven (double hurrah).  The Manic Street Preachers were also playing.  For those such as Rev T who might be wondering who the MSP are, YIC can advise that they are a popular music group.

YIC was also delighted to meet Melbourne residents Rob & Gill MacDonald for dinner at the RACV City Club.  They were on fine form, and it was good to exchange news and tales of the fine craft Stella Genesta.
at The Etihad Stadium

Advance Australia Fair - all together now
dinner with Rob & Gill MacDonald in Melbourne
Australia kick off

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Lions 35 Melbourne Rebels 0

After a dismal performance against the Brumbies, the midweek team finished their last game with a good win over the Melbourne Rebels.  They scored 5 converted tries to nil.  YIC was urging on the Rebels to score a consolation try at the end, but they couldn't fight their way over the line.  The pick of the tries for the Lions was a sweeping move finished off by Sean Maitland.

YIC took a tour to Phillip Island yesterday.  It concluded with watching the Little Penguins come ashore at dusk - a very impressive sight.  Photos weren't allowed.  But YIC can provide a photo of the view over The Nobbies seal rocks (home to fur seals) and a sheep shearer in action.  He had just 'thrown' the fleece on the floor.  Keen biblical students should note this is different from 'laying' a fleece.  This typically involves drinking several pots of Fat Yak Pale Ale without a resultant hangover, after which the Lions are certain to win the second test (possibly).
at the AMMI Stadium, Melbourne

Lions supporters


The Lions kick off

a rare Rebels attack

sheep shearer in action

Nobbies Rocks, Phillip Island

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Lions 23 Australia 21

Crumbs - what a nerve shredder.  The first test between the Lions and the Wallabies in Brisbane went down to the wire.  Kurtley Beale had the chance to win the game for the Wallabies with the last kick of the game, but fluffed the penalty attempt.  Every Lions' fan breathed a sigh of relief.

It had been a close game throughout.  Folau scored 2 cracking tries for the Wallabies.  George North and Alex Cuthbert replied with one each for the Lions.  At 20 - 12, the Lions should have wrapped the game up.  Instead they messed up a couple of scrums, allowing Beale 2 penalty attempts, both of which he missed.

It's all set up for the second test in Melbourne.  First, the Lions take on the Melbourne Rebels on Tuesday night.  YIC will, of course, be there.

And finally, just what is going on in the last photo?  Is YIC saying his prayers for a Lions victory?  Not on this occasion.  Rather it's the Canberra Millers' fiendish exercise programme being put into effect.  Lesser men have crumbled at the prospect.
YIC at the Suncorp Stadium

pre match warm-up

I was there

scrum to the Lions

Canberra millers with John & Barbara Inglis

YIC being put through his paces

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Dinner with the Canberra Duffs

It's not just the Walker/Miller family who are in Canberra.  YIC is delighted to report that the Duff family is also firmly established here.  Sam, Alisa and Donisha Duff are born and bred Australians and have been living in Canberra for a while now.  Their grandfather was Sandy Duff (Grandpa Duff's brother).  His son Edward emigrated to Australia when he was circa 20 and married Vicky Drummond.  Their 4 children are Sam, Alisa, Donisha, and Edward.  YIC was delighted to meet the 3 girls for dinner.  The Canberra Millers also came along to the meal at La Posada.  An enjoyable evening ensued.  In true Duff style, no drop of alcohol passed the lips of any of the assembled company [not strictly true].  
Vicky Drummond is an indigenous Australian.  Her grandfather came from Indonesia.  When he arrived in Australia, his name was anglicized to Drummond.  Her father Ali Drummond was a pearl shell diver in the Torres Strait.  You might have heard it here first on Birtley News, but in fact Sam has written a whole book on her mother's family history and YIC looks forward to reading it with interest.  [Addendum - YIC has now read the book "Life B'Long, Ali Drummond, A Life in the Torres Strait".  It's a fascinating read.]
the assembled company at dinner

Alisa, Sam, and Donisha

Lions 12 Brumbies 14

Oh dear.  All 4 wheels fell off the Lions rugby machine last night.  Against a committed and spirited ACT Brumbies team, the Lions' second string team put up a poor showing.  Their line-out was dysfunctional, with Rory Best throwing crooked 3 times in the first half.  The backs were all last minute stand-ins for injuries.  This resulted in pedestrian play with little penetration.  Stuart Hogg at flyhalf did his best with the play-making and the kicking duties - but his lack of first class experience was exposed by a good team.  Well played the Brumbies - they deserved their victory.

YIC attended the game with the Canberra Millers.  Tristan valiantly supported the Lions with YIC.  Peter, Alison, Patrick, and Natalie rooted for the Brumbies.  So at least two-thirds of the party were happy with the Brumbies' victory.  

If Warren Gatland is wondering how to gee his troops up before Saturday's test against the Wallabies, then YIC has the answer.  He needs to send the Lions squad to the Miller household for morning exercise.  The Millers are in training for a Canadian kayaking holiday.  This means that the household has to report at 8 am sharp for press-ups, sit-ups and chin-ups, all under the eagle eye of sergeant-majors Patrick and Tristan.   Having undergone the training for the last 2 days, YIC can assure Warren Gatland that the Lions would soon be in peak physical shape if they cared to join in a morning session.

To assist Warren Gatland further, YIC offers his team for Saturday's test.  It is:
1 Vunipola, 2 Youngs, 3 Jones, 4 Wyn Jones, 5 O'Connell, 6 Croft, 7 Warburton (C), 8 Heaslip, 9 Phillips, 10 Sexton, 11 Maitland, 12 Davies, 13 O'Driscoll, 14 Cuthbert, 15 Halfpenny
Bench - Corbisero, Hibbard, Cole, Parling, O'Brien, Youngs, Farrell, Hogg
Natalie, Alison, Tristan, Patrick, YIC

Lions' supporters wonder where it all went wrong

Richie Gray at the lineout

Lions on the defensive (again)

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Lions 47 NSW Waratahs 17

The Lions machine kept rolling at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney last night.  The forwards had the look of a test team, but injuries in the backs meant the Lions weren't at full strength.  But they were still too good for a valiant Waratahs team who scored 2 good tries.  Leigh Halfpenny was outstanding for the Lions, scoring 2 tries and kicking all the goals and penalties in sight.  Tom Croft played well at blindside scoring a blistering try, and Sam Warburton acquitted himself reasonably well to cement probably his Test start.

YIC is off to Canberra next to stay with Peter Miller and family for the next leg of the tour.  Watch this space for news of the Canberra Millers.

train from Newcastle to Sydney

the real one is over the Tyne

at the game

scrum down near the Waratah's line

Halfpenny kicks another penalty

happy Lions fans at the end

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Lions 64 Combined Country 0

YIC is in Newcastle (Australia).  It's quite similar to the UK version - sea 19C, sunshine, whales and dolphins in the bay etc.  Monday was a public holiday.  The Newcastle Pipe Band were playing numbers such as Mull of Kintyre, Scotland the Brave, Black Bear.  Rev T would not have enjoyed it at all.  Outdoor swimming enthusiasts could have a field day here.  When the surf is down, Nobby's Beach is beautiful for swimming.  When the surf is up, there's the Ocean Baths (salt water outdoor pool) or Bogey Hole (salt water pool hewn out of solid rock by the convicts).  YIC has patronised them all.

The rugby was enjoyable but one-sided.  The Combined Country were a mix of amateurs and semi-pros.  They did well to keep the Lions at bay, but still conceded 10 tries.  All the Scots played well - Gray, Maitland, and Hogg (who scored a good try from fly-half).  Next it's off to Sydney for a more meaningful game against the New South Wales Waratahs.
Newcastle Beach

Newcastle Pipe Band

at the Hunter Stadium

kick off

Lions on the attack

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Lions 22 Queensland Reds 12

Round two of The Lions' Australia tour got underway at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane last night.  The Reds, led by Quade Cooper, came at The Lions hard from the off.  The Lions weatherered the initial storm.  After a try from Ben Youngs and penalties from Owen Farrell, it was 13 - 7 to The Lions at half-time.  But just when it seemed The Lions would pull clear, The Reds got back into the game.  It started to rain in the second half which became scrappy.  In the end The Lions held on to win 22 - 12, but it wasn't a vintage performance.  Sam Warburton (capt) went off towards the end, and YIC wondered if he was struggling with his injured knee - time will tell.
Next stop is Newcastle (AUS).  We shall see how it compares to the UK version.
Chris & Catherine - pre match drinks

at the Suncorp Stadium

Angie & Ron - fellow fans

The Lions kick off the match

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Lions 69 Western Force 17

The Lions' tour of Australia kicked off with a convincing win against The Western Force.  At the Patersons Stadium, "The Force" were depleted by injuries and international call-ups, but still put up a spirited performance.  They kept it close for 30 mins, but in the end the Lions' back division started to find time and space and ran in 9 tries.  Sexton had a fine game, opening the scoring with a try under the posts; O'Driscoll got a brace of tries (one right in front of YIC); and Halfpenny kicked all his goals. 

Interesting fact for the day courtesy of Matthew from Zagreb - Justin Tipuric's (Wales) parents come from Croatia.  You heard it here first. 

Lions' scrum

Lions attack
at the Patersons Stadium

with Matthew, Croatia supporter

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Australia Arrival

Sail & Anchor, Fremantle
St Mary's Cathedral, Perth
Your International Correspondent has arrived in Perth, Australia.   It's sunny and spring-like by day, slightly chilly by night.  He has been found time for a visit to Fremantle where he sampled the delights of The Sail & Anchor and Little Creatures microbreweries.  In case any readers are concerned that YIC might be straying from the straight and narrow, he can reassure them that:
  • beer is expensive here at 9.50AUD a pint - so YIC's wallet applies plenty of restraint
  • he has been to mass to confess his sins at St Mary's Catholic cathedral
It's the first game tonight when the Lions take on the Western Force.  The home side have included a lot of new players, so let's hope the Lions score lots of points.