British and Irish Lions: Farrell and Sexton? I'm not convinced - Guscott
If Owen Farrell or Johnny Sexton play at inside centre, the All Blacks will have a field day.
In the Lions' 12-3 win over the Crusaders, the tourists stumbled across Farrell and Sexton as a possible midfield combination.
Sexton came on after 25 minutes to replace Jonathan Davies, who left the field for a head injury assessment and did not return.
And as a result Farrell, who began the game at number 10, moved to outside centre with Sexton taking over at fly-half.
It worked a couple of times in attack and there is no doubt that having those two minds in the attacking game is advantageous.
But whether it is the right one for the Test? I am not convinced yet. But I have never been convinced.
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- Relive how Lions beat Crusaders in 'must-win' game
'Farrell is my number 10'
If I was opposite Farrell and Sexton I'd think all my Christmases had come at once and the All Blacks will think exactly the same thing.
Sexton at number 12 is just not as strong defensively as Ben Te'o and Robbie Henshaw.
When you've got someone like Te'o or Henshaw there it's a different proposition. You can move those guys around but you are unlikely to run through them.
Jonathan Davies is also in such good form that he is likely to start in the Test matches and they will want to get him back as quickly as possible.
I don't think the Lions can move Farrell away from 10, he's my stamped-on, inked-in fly-half.
Having seen all of the squad in action in the first three games, I think five players are nailed on to start - Farrell, Conor Murray, George Kruis, Sam Warburton (if he is fit) and Taulupe Faletau.
The other positions are up for grabs, and there's a big question over the left wing.
'Defence should be pleased, but not happy'
The Lions defence against the Crusaders was hard-pressing and intense, and they put massive pressure on a side who have been scoring four or five tries a game in Super Rugby.
The Lions knew how potent the Crusaders attack was, yet they were able to nil them on the try count.
It was made slightly easier by the fact the surface was slippery and the ball was greasy but the Crusaders were too excitable and the Lions forced them into making uncharacteristic errors.
They were rushed in their play and, when they did get in behind, they could not execute. That was down to the pressure of the Lions defence.
It is still a bit narrow and is susceptible to the kick cross-pass, which we will 100% see in the Test matches - every side has tried this against them so far and had some success.
There was space out wide for the Crusaders but the Lions defence came up rapidly and anticipated the ball out the back. It's only a missed tackle in those situations which will let you down.
And we saw one instance of this. Farrell came up and got caught out by Jack Goodhue, who cut inside Farrell and outside Sexton at 10.
Those two are unlikely to have spent any time defending on this tour like that. So whilst not great, it is more palatable because of the unusual circumstances.
I think overall the Lions will be pleased with their defence, but they should not be happy.
'Lions finding their feet'
The noise coming from this game will be that the Lions' defence was better than their attack - which it was.
The Lions made nine clean line-breaks compared to just four from the Crusaders but there were no tries from either side.
The Lions created three to four scoring opportunities, which against the All Blacks they will have to finish. Otherwise, quite simply, they will not win the games.
By the time they play the first of the three Test matches on 24 June, I would like to think they will be up to speed and they will finish off their opportunities.
The All Blacks will get better as the series goes on. You have to finish this team off in the first two games.
Even to finish off 50% of their opportunities would be a huge improvement on what we have seen so far. It is a big ask but it is not impossible.
|Lions tour fixtures|
|3 June||Provincial Barbarians||Won 13-7|
|7 June||Blues||Lost 22-16|
|10 June||Crusaders||Won 12-3|
|17 June||Maori All Blacks|
|24 June||New Zealand|
|1 July||New Zealand|
|8 July||New Zealand|
It looks like the Lions are finding their feet in an intense environment.
The understanding between scrum-half and fly-half was a real positive. Murray's execution with his kicks gave chasers time to get there and compete. On a few occasions we actually got the ball back.
The beauty about this game is that the Lions bounced back.