Lions hammer Country XV
Lions hammer Country XVSHARE
The British and Irish Lions ran in ten tries on their way to a comprehensive 64-0 victory over a Combined Country XV in Newcastle on Tuesday.
The tourists turned on a brilliant display of running rugby with their backs showing great form in the countdown to the opening Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane on June 22.
Welsh winger George North scored two tries with others going to Alex Cuthbert, Conor Murray, Stuart Hogg, Richard Hibbard, skipper Brian O'Driscoll, Leigh Halfpenny, Sean O'Brien and Jonathan Davies.
Hogg kicked four conversions and Halfpenny three.
The plucky Combined Country team looked set to concede a huge score when they trailed 38-0 at halftime, but they stuck to their guns and almost grabbed a consolation try late in the game.
'We didn't know what to expect from the Country boys tonight and they gave a full 80 minutes and tested us at times.
"We kept it to zero and that explains a lot our emphasis on defence," Lions skipper O'Driscoll said.
The Lions scored at almost a point a minute in the opening storming half wowing the 20,000 Newcastle crowd with their free-flowing attacks.
Scotland's Hogg, switched to a makeshift flyhalf for the game, was heavily involved as the tourists put on a blinding exhibition of precision passing and handling.
Welsh winger Cuthbert scored the opening try in the eighth minute and it was a steady procession to the Country try-line.
Cuthbert was involved in Irish scrumhalf Conor Murray's try minutes later and then Hogg speared through a gap to score untouched.
But Hogg's conversion hit the upright for the first goalkick miss by the tourists in 19 attempts in Australia.
The plucky Country team hammered away at the Lions try-line for no reward before a splendid 65-metre try featuring fullback Sean Maitland and North before the winger trotted over.
Hooker Richard Hibbard scored a pushover try and North grabbed his second after the ball swept across the backline.
The Lions were held to 26 points in the second-half by the dogged Combined Country team, which showed great pride in doing their best to stem the red tide.
The Lions face up to Super Rugby team the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
Man of the Match: A few players put up their hands and it was going to go to flank Sean O'Brein until the last minute of the game when his captain – Brian O'Driscoll, put through an incredibly neat grubber kick that resulted in a try for Jonathan Davies. O'Driscoll's performance really has helped him stake a claim for a Test start. His performances have been solid and he showed, again, that he still has the ability, physicality and touch to play in such a tough series.
Moment of the match: In the 29th minute of the game the Combined Country XV were pressing hard for a try but they lost the ball on the Lions line. THe Lions countered and after a few passes Maitland shot down the touchline. He had the presence of mind to draw the last defender and gave the pass inside the George North who coasted in for the 90-metre try.
Villain of the match: There was none.
For Combined Country:
For British and Irish Lions:
Tries: Cuthbert, Murray, Hogg, North 2, Hibbard, O'Driscoll, Halfpenny, O'Brien, Davies
Cons: Hogg 4, Halfpenny 3
Combined Country: 15 Nathan Trist, 14 Alex Gibbon, 13 Lewie Catt, 12 Tareta-Junior Siakisini, 11 Tom Cox, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Michael Snowden, 8 Tim Davidson (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Richard Stanford, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Phoenix Battye, 3 Tim Metcher, 2 Josh Mann-Rae, 1 Haydn Hirsimaki.
Replacements: 16 Tom Kearney, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Rikki Abraham, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Trent Dyer, 21 Adam McCormack, 22 Shaun McCarthy, 23 Dale Ahwang.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Stuart Hogg, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Toby Faletau, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Jonathan Davies, 23 Leigh Halfpenny.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), James Leckie (Australia) Television