Off-colour Jonny Sexton replaced by Owen Farrell and world jumps to conclusions
Jonny Sexton was not the only Lion to play like a drain in Whangerei.
Outside of Toby Faletau, it was hard to pick a starter who made a convincing case for selection against the Provincial Barbarians.
There were missed tackles, fluffed try-scoring opportunities and poor set-pieces. They may have won but that is the very least that was expected against the worst team they will face on this Tour.
Toby Faletau's try-saving tackle completely over-shadowed by referee's knee slide https://t.co/Q3dCRpU9fJ
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) June 3, 2017
Leinster and Ireland out-half Sexton and Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw struggled to control the game, the 10 missed his first kick at goal and was receiving treatment when Laidlaw kicked the Lions' first points in a disappointing second half.
Three points was not what Sexton would have expected to take from this game, nor would he have expected to have misplaced as many passes or gained only eight metres in a poor performance.
He did make nine tackles, missing none, during his 49 minutes on the pitch but the sight Owen Farrell making an immediate impact -playing a hand in the build-up to Anthony Watson's try and converting brilliantly from the sideline - had lots of people declaring the battle for the role of Test 10 done and dusted on Day 1.
Farrell has had a great season for Saracens and, as a 12, for England, but Sexton was the starting 10 for Warren Gatland's series-winning Tour four years ago, he has proven himself time and again for Ireland and Leinster and, on form, is the most complete fly-half in the Northern Hemisphere.
Admittedly he is not in form, but he has a few weeks and games against top class opposition to get into the groove and there is no chance Gatland will give up on such a class player so quickly.
Lots of people are writing off the Dubliner, however.
Unfortunately Sexton has played himself off the test side already. Very poor performance
— Charlie 🇮🇪 (@crusa) June 3, 2017
Sexton appears to be drunk.
— Rob Williams (@Robwilliams71) June 3, 2017
Farrel makes two passes and makes more impact than sexton did in 50mins! Great run from Moriarty to set up the try! #LionsNZ2017
— Matthew Knott (@HoltenderMatt) June 3, 2017
Farrell is simply brilliant. Done more in 2 minutes than Sexton in 50. #LionsNZ2017
— Matt Jenner (@mattjenner94) June 3, 2017
— The Loose Head (@TheLooseH) June 3, 2017
Jonny Sexton taken off thank goodness. He's been absolute bobbins today #LionsNZ2017
— Jamie Phillips (@JNPhillips4) June 3, 2017
Sexton has picked a fine time to descend into the worst form of his career, hasn't he? #BARvBIL
— Josh Gardner (@joshgardner) June 3, 2017
Some sense being spoken...
Reading about poor starts for Sexton, Hogg and AWJ - These guys will obv need another go before anything can be decided.
— Andy Barrow (@AndyBarrow2012) June 3, 2017