What the Pundits said as the Lions impress against Sharks

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Who impressed the pundits

An unconventional build-up did not stop The British & Irish Lions from running out convincing winners against Cell C Sharks to leave the pundits impressed once again.

Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe both scored hat-tricks for the tourists as Warren Gatland’s men triumphed 54-7 to make it two wins from two games since arriving in South Africa.

Clinical Lions romp to eight-try win over Sharks

It was far from plain sailing for the Lions before the game, however, as two positive Covid-19 tests in their camp meant several players in the matchday squad had to isolate.

But the tourists came through their second match in Johannesburg with flying colours despite the disruption and 2017 tourist Greig Laidlaw believes the squad will be better for the adversity.

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ADVERSITY WILL BRING LIONS TOGETHER

“It was a real professional job from the guys out there, hats off to them, they’ve done an incredible job,” said TalkSport pundit Laidlaw, who made six appearances in New Zealand four years ago.

“We’ve talked about all the disruption in the lead-up, but I think this could really bring the squad together you know. Through that adversity everybody chipped in.

Iain Henderson speaks

“Whether that be forwards or guys playing in slightly different positions at late notice. Everybody had a really good game as well so I think it puts the Lions in a pretty good spot.

Warren Gatland column: Dealing with adversity and defensive improvements

“I think the guys will be starting to come together a bit more now and know each other a bit better as well which always helps so that’s what makes the Tour special.

“It’s a long, difficult Tour so hopefully the boys can do that.”

DALY DELIVERS IN CENTRAL ROLE

And while Laidlaw felt every player performed well at Emirates Airline Park, he reserved special praise for Elliot Daly after the England utility back was handed his first start in the midfield.

“There were three or four who could have been Man of the Match. I thought Ali Price was very good, he got to breakdowns quickly and he kicked well,” added Laidlaw.

“Luke Cowan-Dickie showed up quite a lot for me as did Sam Simmonds but Elliot Daly had a lot of good touches, he kicked at the right time and put people into space.

Pundit Laidlaw was impressed by Daly

“Nobody had a bad game to be honest, Adam Beard was very good in the lineout. It’s all about doing the simple things well when it gets to this level, and he’s done that.

“Josh Navidi was busy, he got through his tackles, and he was unlucky not to get a try for all his hard work. Credit to the whole Lions staff and players for fronting up.”

NAVIDI TAKES BACK ROW PLAUDITS

Josh Navidi was another player who caught the attention of the pundits on his first-ever appearance for the Lions after being called up late to the Tour as an injury replacement.

The Wales flanker made 16 tackles in a back row that included Sam Simmonds and Tom Curry, leaving three-time Lions tourist Will Greenwood to sing his praises.

“In terms of the performance, it was an outstanding evening by so many players. Josh Navidi finished with 16 tackles, he was everywhere as always,” said the Sky Sports pundit.

“They’ll be pleased with how the scrum reacted to an iffy start and the discipline got better but the pace they have if the chances come is a frighteningly positive prospect for Gatland.”

Louis Rees-Zammit

Two-time Lions Tour captain and fellow Sky Sports pundit Sam Warburton echoed the thoughts of Greenwood, insisting that Gatland will be delighted with the performance in the circumstances.

“I think considering the cards the Lions were dealt with at the start of the game, the adversity and the difficult situation they were in being stuck in their hotels room until 5.30,” he said.

“I think they’ve come through this game relatively unscathed in the backline, which is lucky, you didn’t want a situation with three players playing in the backline.

“They’ve done brilliantly well, and the Lions were too powerful, too many good finishers. They do need to face a side who are going to pose a more physical threat.

“They need a side who will be able to help prepare them for the Test series, but they can only beat what’s in front of them and they’ve been very clinical so far.”

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