British & Irish Lions

Lions lay down another big marker

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 11:53
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Nine tries in Aussie opener
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The British and Irish Lions continued to lay down big markers, as they romped to a 69-17 win over the Western Force in Perth on Wednesday.

In their first match on Australian soil, which followed last Saturday's 59-8 win over the Barbarians, the Lions scored nine tries - including two by captain Brian O'Driscoll.

The Force, who face the Waratahs in a Super Rugby match on Sunday, fielded a much-weakened team and was simply no match for the tourists.

The Lions were on the board early with a penalty goal to Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny after just two minutes.

After 11 minutes Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton, then dummied and shimmied through the Force defence after a sustained period attack to score the 2013 Lions' first try on Australian soil. Halfpenny converted to put the Lions out 10-0.

Some spirited attack and strong defence saw the Force dominate the next twenty minutes giving up many kickable penalty shots. In the end captain Matt Hodgson pointed to the post with Brett Sheehan making no mistake to bring the score back to 10-3 on the 30-minute mark.

But the Lions hit back straight away with veteran captain Brian O'Driscoll showing a spritely turn of speed to outpace the Force defence and touch down in the left corner. Halfpenny added a magnificent conversion from the corner confirming he'd brought his kicking boots on tour.

Lanky English flank Tom Croft crossed for another try wide out after the siren, which Halfpenny again converted, to give the Lions a commanding 27-3 half time lead.

The only disappointing moment for the Lions in the first half was a serious looking injury to Irish prop Cian Healy which saw him stretchered from the field.

The best of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales continued where they left off straight after half time with Irish No.8 Jamie Heaslip finishing off a try he initiated himself with a surging break from half way. Halfpenny was again accurate with the conversion.

The Force then broke through with a try to No.8 Richard Brown in the 43rd minute, which was converted by Sheehan.

But the Lions hit back immediately with fast ball movement resulting in English prop Mako Vunipola, who was on for Healy, crashing over in the right hand corner. Halfpenny was again successful with the extras, making it seven from seven.

Force centre Ed Stubbs was shown a yellow card in the 58th minute for slowing the ball down and the Lions immediately made their numerical advantage count with Irish wing Tommy Bowe scoring in the right hand corner. Again Halfpenny was immaculate with the conversion.

Replacement Lachlan McCaffrey forced his way over for the hosts in the 63rd minute to bring it back to 48-17, with Sheehan landing the conversion.

But as they had done all match, the Lions struck back instantly with wrecking ball English centre Manu Tuilagi breaking through before feeding a neat inside to captain O'Driscoll who went under the posts to score his second.

Replacement flyhalf Owen Farrell scored a minute later with Halfpenny landing both conversions from straight in front.

Giant Welsh lock Alun Wyn-Jones got an early shower on 71 minutes, yellow carded for slowing the ball down.

But it didn't slow down the Lions with Sean O'Brien completing an excellent game by setting up replacement English lock Geoff Parling for a try. Halfpenny completed a perfect match with his ninth conversion for a haul of 24 points.

The Lions now move on to Brisbane where they play the Queensland Reds, and Quade Cooper, on Saturday.

Moment of the match: There were nine good tries, but we felt the first of Brian O'Driscoll's two tries - when the Lions went down the short-side, as Conor Murray gave the pass to Jonathan Sexton, who off-loaded to O'Driscoll, who in turn showed some incredible slight of hand to George North. North had very little space on the left and he flicked the pass back inside to O'Driscoll with a couple of defenders on him and O'Driscoll showed he still has the pace and went over in the left-hand corner for the try.

Man of the Match: A number of players put their hands up for a Test spot, but none more so than Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll. He was a lot better than his age suggests as he provided the Lions with a lot of go-forward and partnered Tuilagi well in the midfield. Scored two good tries after some slick hands and a great supporting line on attack. Really looked the real deal in a dominant performance from the tourists.

Villain of the match: Two yellow-cards in the second-half - one for either side - for repeated infringements could have qualified for the villain, but it was an alleged incident in the first-half of the game that wins this dubious honour. Western Force scrumhalf Brett Sheehan got into a ruck and came out accusing Lions prop Cian Healy of biting him. The referee went to the TMO, but the result was inconclusive. If the allegation is indeed correct then there can be no bigger villain in this game.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:
Tries:
Brown, McCaffrey
Cons: Sheehan 2
Pen: Sheehan

For the British and Irish Lions:
Tries:
Sexton, O'Driscoll 2, Croft, Heaslip, Vunipola, Bowe, Farrell, Parling
Cons: Halfpenny 9
Pens: Halfpenny 2

Yellow cards: Ed Stubbs (Western Force, 58 - repeated offences at the breakdown), Alun Wyn Jones (British and Irish Lions, 71 - repeated offences at the breakdown)

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Sam Christie, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Ed Stubbs, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Corey Brown, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8  Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Phoenix Battye, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Salesi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Sione Kolo, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Nick Haining, 23 Junior Rasolea.

British and Irish Lions: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 George North, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)

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