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Tommy Bowe starts as Lions ring the changes for 2nd Test with Australia

Sean O’Brien and Conor Murray are drafted up to the bench and Mike Phillips drops out of the squad.

Tommy Bowe with Lions physio Prav Mathema.
Tommy Bowe with Lions physio Prav Mathema.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

TOMMY BOWE IS among five changes to the Lions starting XV to face Australia in the Second Test in Melbourne this weekend. The Ulster and Ireland winger replaces Alex Cuthbert, who scored a try in the First Test triumph, on the right wing.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs is promoted from the bench to replace Mike Phillips.  He  joins brother Tom, who plays his second Test at hooker, while flanker Dan Lydiate, who captained the Lions against the Rebels on Tuesday night, replaces Tom Croft and Bowe takes over from Cuthbert on the right flank following his return to full fitness from a bone break in his hand.

Two additional changes are forced by injury. Second row Geoff Parling replaces Paul O’Connell, who suffered a fracture to his right arm in the 1st Test while Makovina Vunipola takes over Alex Corbisiero, who strained a calf muscle in the same game.

On the bench there are five changes with Ryan Grant, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Croft and Cuthbert earning spots alongside Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole and Owen Farrell.

Lions coach Warren Gatland said, “We said after the First Test that we had improvement in us and we are confident that this is the case. Several players have put their hands up this week and have forced their way into the Test side while several players have returned to fitness.”

“That is typical of Lions tours. We want players to constantly push for selection, we then select who is on form and who is available. Based on that we have selected a squad that is capable of winning the Test and securing the series.”

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His tour may be over but Paul O’Connell is still training like a demon. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Tour manager Andy Irvine commented, “16 years is a long time to wait for a series win. We were very close in 2009 and the whole squad is firmly focused on victory this weekend. The Wallabies are always a tough proposition at home and showed in 2001, after losing the 1st Test, that they are capable of coming from behind in a series. We will not underestimate them and will be prepared.”

Lion XV to play Australia: Leigh Halfpenny; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North; Jonathan Sexton, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones; Alun Wyne Jones, Geoff Parling; Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (c), Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Grant, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Alex Cuthbert.

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Patrick McCarry

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