The British & Irish Lions registered a comprehensive victory against a weakened Western Force team 17-69 in Perth.
The Lions came into this first game of the tour in Australia and faced a very week Western Force team who were stripped of most of their key players ahead of a crucial Super XV match against the NSW Waratahs on Saturday. the Force team included a number of players who have yet to even make their debuts in the Super XV so it was no surprise that they didn’t put up much of a fight.
The Lions were challenged not to take the game lightly and although they finished with a 52 point winning margin, there were times that the Lions looked very pedestrian. They will need stiffer tests than this if they are not to head into the test matches against the Wallabies in two weeks time undercooked. The Lions made the same mistake in 2009 by not having an intensive enough set of warm up games and Lions head coach Warren Gatland will be keen to ensure that does not happen this time round.
The Lions scored nine tries with Brian O’Driscoll leading the line with two scores. Further tries were added by Jonny Sexton, Tom Croft, Jamie Heaslip, Mako Vunipola, Tommy Bowe, Owen Farrell and Geoff Parling. Leigh Halfpenny kicked all nine of his conversions and also kicked two early penalties in a faultless display from the full back.
The Force were rewarded for their efforts with two tries from Richard Brown and Lachlan McCaffrey, with Brett Sheehan converting both scores and adding a further penalty.
The win came at a cost though with Lions prop Cian Healy being stretchered off towards the end of the first half, although initial reports suggested that he has only sprained his ankle, but was taken to hospital for scans. Healy is a contender to start in the test matches so the Lions will be keen to find out if he is able to continue with the tour.
Warren Gatland said “It was a good workout, in particular for those guys who were making their first start of the tour. We talked about keeping our patience and when we got down there finishing them off which we did in the second half. Overall I was pretty pleased with the performance and the guys coming off the bench gave us good impact. ”
The Lions now move on to Brisbane to take on the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium. They will be hoping that their hosts put out a stronger team and provide a stiffer test. Tour captain Sam Warburton should be making his debut so the Lions will be keen to ensure they continue to progress ahead of the test matches in two weeks time.
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13:00 Lions captain for the match Brian O’Driscoll “We’re relatively pleased with the performance with plenty to work on. We have to continue to build on this because we know what lies ahead of us in two weeks time against the Wallabies.”
12:55 All in all a 50 point victory is a decent effort from the Lions, but really with the weakened opposition the Lions should have put more points on the board. Good performances from Heaslip and Vunipola were the big stand outs, and of course Halfpenny didn’t miss a kick all night. Plenty of positives to take, but nothing earth shattering either. The Lions will have a tougher test to face on Saturday when they take on the Reds in Brisbane.
12:50 A forward [pass from the force concedes the penalty and the game is over.
12:50 The final hooter sounds so we’re into the last play with the Force on the attack.
12:50 Last five minutes of the game and pace hasn’t slowed. A good break from George North is turned over and the force knock on to give the Lions possession, but then they get in each others way to give a penalty to the Force.
12:50 Good pressure now for the Lions ends with a good score through replacement lock Geoff Parling. Multiple phases of attack eventually ends with the Force being unable to stem the tide. Halfpenny lines up the kick and kicks it once again. Sean Maitland joins the field to finish off the Lions replacements. 17 -69
12:45 Continued Force pressure is wasted when Norton-Knight kicks through, but they regain possession and continue to press. The Lions turn it over again and they clear to touch.
12:40 Tom Croft takes a head to head collision, but manages to leave the field on foot to be replaced by Toby Faletau.
12:40 The Force keep up the pressure and Alun Wyn Jones concedes the penalty and is sent to the bin for deliberately killing the ball under his own posts.
12:40 From the restart the Force win a penalty and kick for the corner. Good pressure from the Force is rewarded by another penalty after a series of attacking phases.
12:40 Dan Cole comes off and Matt Stevens replaces him.
12:40 Two more from Halfpenny 17-62
12:40 Couple more replacements on for the Lions, Ben Youngs is on and so is Farrell who scores with his first touch! 17-60
12:35 The Lions respond immediately through a fine move from Sexton through Tuilagi and O’Driscoll to finish. Halfpenny adds the extras. Brilliant combination from the Lions midfield. 17-55
12:35 Try for the Force. Lachlan McCaffrey steals off the back of a ruck following some good pressure from the Force and scores just to the right of the posts. Sheehan converts and it’s 17-48
12:30 Two changes for the Lions Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling enter the fray.
12:30 The Lions take the scrum from the resulting penalty and Tommy Bowe scores in the corner after slipping through a pretty pathetic attempt at a tackle from Force winger Corey Brown. Halfpenny converts. 10-48
12:25 The Lions get an attacking penalty in the Force 22 from a late hit on Sexton and the Lions power on through the forwards to just short of the Force tryline. Continued pressure from the Lions results in a penalty for the Lions when Force centre Ed Stubbs kills the ball and get’s binned for his actions.
12:25 Some interesting attacking moves from the Lions. Jonny Sexton has gone for the cross field kicks a number of times. It hasn’t yet quite comes off, but you can see some of the moves that are being implemented on the training ground.
12:25 The Lions force a penalty from the restart and Jonny Sexton kicks for the corner and pops it half a metre in to give the Lions an excellent platform on the 5 metre line, but the Lions turn over possession.
12:20 The faultless thus far Halfpenny steps up for the conversion again and bangs it straight through the posts once again. Faultless indeed! 10-41
12:20 The Lions keep the pressure on and after a series of fine moves from the Lions backs, Mako Vunipola uses his power to crash through the tackle to score in the right hand corner. 10-39
12:20 The Lions force a penalty from the restart and the Lions take the scrum, but the Force pinch the ball on their own line and clear.
12:15 Good period of pressure from the Force and the try is scored by Richard Brown following a quick penalty from the Lions. Good score for the Western Force. Scrum half Brett Sheehan converts to make it 10-34
12:10 Halfpenny once again kicks the conversation from the right hand touchline. That’s 6 from 6 for the welsh full back. 3-34
12:10 Brilliant start from the Lions as Heaslip powers through the tackle and is stopped just short of the line and after three or four probes at the line, the ball fires back over to the right hand touchline and Heaslip is there to finish off the move he started. Just reward for his initial work. 3-32
12:05 And the teams are coming back out onto the field. Jonny Sexton restarts the match.
11:55 Encouraging signs from the Lions in the first half with the only major concern being the injury to Cian Healy which at this stage looks like it might end his tour given how much pain he looked in when he hit the deck.
11:55 Leigh Halfpenny steps up for the conversion and dissects the posts comfortably, and that’s half time. 3-27
11:55 A knock on from Force brings an attacking scrum for the Lions on the Force 22. Training ground move off the back of the scrum gives the Lions a good attacking position from which the Lions eventually score in the corner from Tom Croft.
11:50 Healy leaves the field and is replaced by Mako Vunipola. Back to the action and the Lions have a penalty for offside and Halfpenny kicks the three points. 3-20
11:45 Interesting news coming from Fox news alleging that Brett Sheehan has complained that Cian Healy bit him in the first 15 mins or so, which would explain the earlier delay whilst the TMO looked for foul play.
11:45 There’s quite a break in play here whilst Healy is loaded onto a stretcher and carried from the field.
11:45 Cian Healy has gone down heavily and looks in a lot of pain. This doesn’t look good for the Irish prop.
11:45 Five mins to go to half time and Jamie Heaslip takes the restart and charges up field. The Lions are starting to build some momentum.
11:40 Halfpenny steps up again for the conversion from the left hand side and strikes it perfectly. 3-17
11:40 And the Lions reply quickly through captain Brian O’Driscoll diving over in the corner. It’s referred to the TMO, but there’s nothing wrong with the score and its 3-15
11:40 Brett Sheehan steps up and kicks it through the posts for the first score for the Western Force. 3-10
11:35 Good pressure from the Force results in a turnover penalty which they this time opt to kick for the posts and get a score on the board.
11:30 The Force go for the line out again rather than take the three points and they lose the lineout which pushes them back 30 metres.
11:30 Good pressure from the hosts as they are repeatedly pushing the line and O’Driscoll gives away the penalty for straying offside.
11:30 Breakaway opportunity for the Force after Rory Best overthrows the line out. Sam Norton Knight punts the ball down field and Leigh Halfpenny doesn’t clear up properly and the Lions lose 80 odd metres. Force attacking line out on the Lions 5 metre line.
11:25 Very solid scrum, but Conor Murray steps inside and then knocks on in the tackle.
11:25 Bit of a break in play whilst the TMO checks for foul play. Nothing visible on the replays though so the Lions are attacking from a 5 metre scrum.
11:25 Another good break from Tommy Bowe on the inside who feeds Tuilagi who is hauled down just short of the line.
11:20 The Force pull down a maul 10 yards from their own try line and instead of taking the three points the forwards want the scrum.
11:15 Leigh Halfpenny converts 0-10.
11:15 Sustained pressure from the Lions attack eventually see’s Jonny Sexton break the line and score under the posts for the opening try. 0-8
11:15 The expected inexperience of the Force is really quite evident. However the Lions have yet to really punish the mistakes the opposition are making. Still early days though.
11:10 Good opening break from Tommy Bowe puts the Lions in good field position and the penalty for offside is given. Leigh Halfpenny lines up the kick from just in front of the posts and it sails easily through the uprights. 0-3
11:05 Force fly half Sam Norton-Knight gets the game underway.
11:00 The Lions make their way onto the field led by Brian O’Driscoll.
10:55 Warren Gatland speaking just ahead of the game “Conditions are absolutely perfect here tonight”
10:50 Ten mins to go till kick off and the guys are just going through their last minute warm routines before heading back into the changing rooms.
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