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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 27 May, 2019
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The winners and losers from the Lions' hard-fought win over the Reds

A win over an impressive team, but not much to celebrate.

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Winners

THE UNDOUBTED STAR of the first half for the tourists, and he only arrived on the field (out of position) after 20 minutes, was George North.

But first, we need to talk about T-Bowe. Before the crushing news of his hand injury became fully apparent, Ian McGeechan rightly singled him out for special praise after the game and it was little wonder. While Luke Morahan made hay on the opposite wing, Bowe ensured the Reds threat was isolated there and cordoned off the speed-freak Rod Davies.

It was a performance that had all but assured him of a place in the Text XV. Little wonder he cut such an dejected figure after receiving the news.

After Jonathan Sexton replaced his countryman, North was shifted back into his favoured position. This game wasn’t supposed to be a showcase for George North, but after Manu Tuilagi suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter.

North is the big winner from an otherwise worrying week. With very little experience at outside centre he has managed to prove himself just as dangerous in midfield as he is on the wing. He will not be trusted to start a Test there, his versatility will help his case for a starting berth.

Losers

In this part of the northern hemisphere, we are so often left to bemoan conditions that made the game impossible for wingers to thrive. The first half in Brisbane was the opposite. Alex Cuthbert was badly caught flat-footed numerous times by Morahan, including for the Reds’ opening score of the game.

In attack too, he looked strangely limp. After Bowe’s magnificent break, Cuthbert looked a sure bet to romp home. Instead, he coasted into touch.

Owen Farrell also botched a certain try, but a hamstring worry to Jonathan Sexton combined with flawless goal-kicking means he breaks even today.

Sam Warburton does slip to the wrong side of the ledger. The Tour captain is fast becoming a serious doubt to even make himself worthy of a place in the match-day squad. We sympathise with him on the missed score, recovering from injury with two backs chasing him down.

However, Test teams don’t do sympathy and it’s difficult to imagine Justin Tipuric or Sean O’Brien passing up such a golden opportunity for seven points and to be fended off so easily as he was for Morahan’s – admittedly impressive – try was concerning.

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Sean Farrell

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