Lions send out strong message
Sat, 01 Jun 2013 13:51
This gives us a platform to work from
The British and Irish Lions kicked off their 2013 tour with a dominant 59-8 victory over the Barbarians at Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday.
The Lions, who will be seeking their first Test series win in 16 years when they fly to Australia on Sunday, ran in eight tries in hot, humid conditions for a convincing victory.
Stand-in captain Paul O'Connell got the Lions off to the best possible start as he scored the first of eight tries, including two from winger Alex Cuthbert and another brace from scrumhalf Mike Phillips.
Irish lock O'Connell, the 2009 tour skipper, was filling in on armband duties for the injured Sam Warburton, and he touched down in the 28th minute for his first try in 12 appearances in the Lions' famous red shirt.
The game was played in stifling conditions on the hottest day of the year in the southern Chinese city, where the mercury nudged 35°C (95°F) in mid-afternoon and had dropped only slightly to 32°C by the 19.30 (11.30 GMT) kick-off.
"It's a tremendous win," said Phillips, who was named man of the match.
"It was tough conditions... obviously there were some mistakes but that's a great way to start the tour off."
He added: "It was very difficult but I thought, all in all, this gives us a platform to work from and we can push on from here."
England flyhalf Owen Farrell, wearing the Lions number 10 jersey for the first time, was quickly in the thick of the action and got the Lions on the board with a 40-metre penalty after three minutes.
Minutes later Farrell was the focus of the first fisticuffs of the tour when he was sucker-punched by his Saracens club team-mate Schalk Brits at the breakdown.
Australian referee Steve Walsh initially gave the penalty against the England man but reversed his decision, correctly, after the incident was replayed on the stadium's big screen, and waved a yellow card at Brits.
The game was scrappy for much of the first half with ball frequently spilled by sweaty hands, but the Barbarians managed to level the scores just before Brits returned from the sin-bin with an Elliot Daly penalty in the 16th minute.
Seconds later Farrell put the Lions ahead with his second successful kick, and after O'Connell's try they were never headed.
Farrell enjoyed a successful night with the boot, landing six of seven attempts, but was replaced before the hour by Ireland's Johnny Sexton after a poor handling display.
Scrumhalf Phillips did his chances of a Test spot at number nine no harm with two individual tries, scampering in first from a maul and then a line-out, either side of half-time.
That put the Lions 30-3 ahead but the Baa-Baas did raise the biggest cheer of the night with a trademark running try, started by a sumptuous Joe Rokocoko sidestep and finished by Kahn Fotuali'i.
The Lions quickly responded with two more of their own, from Jonathan Davies and Alex Cuthbert, and stretched out the lead to 42-8.
Among a flurry of fresh legs appearing from the bench, Conor Murray replaced Phillips and almost with his first touch broke away to send Cuthbert in for his second score.
With five minutes remaining the Lions opted to take a line-out on the Barbarians line rather than kick a penalty and were rewarded when Wales flanker Dan Lydiate rounded off a training ground grab-and-drive.
Another Welshman, Alun Wyn Jones, also crossed in the last minute to complete the Lions rout.
The British and Irish Lions will depart Hong on Sunday and fly to Perth, where they will begin the Australian tour against Western Force on Wednesday.
The cream of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales have not won a Test series since defeating South Africa in 1997 and on their last visit to Australia, they were edged out 2-1 in the dying seconds of the final Test.
They face the Wallabies in three Tests in Brisbane on June 22, Melbourne on June 29 and Sydney on July 6.
Man of the match: Joe Rokocoko was one of the few Barbarians who really tried the full 80 minutes. Adam Jones showed he is so much more than just a powerful scrummager and Justin Tipuric was involved in everything. However, our award goes to Lions scrumhalf Mike Phillips. He may not be everybody's cup of tea, but despite his arrogance and showboating, he has some fine qualities as a player and score two really good tries.
Moment of the match: There were eight great tries and the first by Mike Phillips ripped the heart of the already lethargic Lions. However, the indication of the Barbarians' attitude towards came when Schalk Brits was yellow-carded in the eighth minute. They just weren't interested in making a game of it.
Villain of the match: This is simple really. Schalk Brits gets it for taking the law into his own hands - that may well kill off any chance he had of getting a Springbok recall, as discipline is vital.
For the Barbarians:
For the British and Irish Lions:
Tries: O'Connell, Phillips 2, Davies, Cuthbert 2, Lydiate, AW Jones
Cons: Farrell 3, Sexton 2
Pens: Farrell 3
Yellow card: Schalk Brits (Barbarians, 8 - foul play, punching)
Barbarians: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Casey Laulala, 11 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Dimitri Yachvili, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Sam Jones, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 Marco Wentzel, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Andrea Lo Cicero, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Imanol Harinordoquy, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 James Hook, 23 Mike Tindall/Rowan Varty.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Paul O'Connell (captain), 4 Richie Gray, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Jamie Heaslip, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 George North.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
AFP & rugby365
|South African news|
|» Varsity Sevens: Maties fall short|
|» Kolbe invited to Bok training camp|
|» Varsity Sevens: UJ on top|
|» Preview: Vodacom Cup, Round Seven|
|» Mouneimne returns to SA, again|