Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Lions put the Force to the sword

05th June 2013 12:55


Brian O Driscoll

Grabbed a brace: Brian O'Driscoll

The British and Irish Lions began their Australian campaign with a 69-17 win over the Force, notching up nine tries in the process.

After handing the Barbarians a thorough hammering in Hong Kong on Saturday, the Lions would have been hoping for a stiffer test against a Super Rugby outfit. The Force's decision to rest several players certainly dented their charge, but credit must go to the visitors for getting the job done.

Early on in the tour the odd error and miscommunication is to be expected and while they looked exciting with the ball in hand, Warren Gatland will know that his team's defence and combinations at set play still require much work.

The early signs were ominous for the Force, with Leigh Halfpenny - who notched up 24 points on the night with some superb goal-kicking - opening the scoring with a penalty after just three minutes.

The Lions were thoroughly dominant during the opening quarter, enjoying 82 percent of the possession as they starved the Force of the ball.

It was Jonathan Sexton who scored the first try of the match, selling the defence with a dummy before cutting inside and brushing off some weak tackles to go over.

The Force got on the board in the 32nd minute thanks to a Brett Sheehan penalty, but the Lions hit back almost immediately as they game became more scrappy.

It was the skipper, Brian O'Driscoll, who went over in the corner after some great hands from George North put the Irishman into space down the far touchline, from where he dived over in the corner.

There were worrying scenes for the Lions in the 35th minute when Cian Healy, who had early been accused of biting my Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan, was stretchered off the field with an ankle injury.

Halfpenny added three more points shortly before the hooter to see the visitors go into the sheds with a 20-3 lead.

It was the men in red who were quickest out of the blocks in the second period, with Tom Croft dotting down just minutes after the restart.

The Lions loose forwards were becoming more and more of a factor in the match and Jamie Heaslip was rewarded for splitting through the midfield as he was on hand to round off the move he started. Halfpenny maintained his perfect record from the tee to stretch the lead out to 32 points.

To their credit the Force still had some fight in them and Richard Brown bashed over after some quick thinking from skipper Matt Hodgson to take a quick tap ten metres out from the line allowed Brown to exploit an error from Sean O'Brien who came out of the defensive line to quickly, leaving the flanker with room to sneak in for the five-pointer.

As they had done after Sheehan's opening penalty, the Lions hit back straight away, with Mako Vunipola - on as replacement for Healy - rumbling over.

When Ed Stubbs was yellow carded in the 57th minute for not rolling away the danger signs were flashing brightly for the Force and it was hardly surprising that the Lions proceeded to run in tries from Tommy Bowe and Owen Farrell (with his first touch of the ball) while the Force were down to 14 men.

The hosts did manage to pick up another score, with the quick tap once again putting the Lions on the back foot. Lachlan McCaffrey was the man to benefit on this occasion.

Alun-Wyn Jones blotted his copy book when he was sent to the sin-bin after a string of infringements in the danger zones from the Lions but that didn't stop Geoff Parling from adding another try to the scoresheet with the imperious Halfpenny ensuring he maintained his perfect record.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:
Tries: R Brown, McCaffrey
Conversions: Sheehan 2
Penalties: Sheehan

The British and Irish Lions:
Tries: Sexton, O'Driscoll 2, Croft, Heaslip, Vunipola, Bowe, Farrell, Parling
Conversions: Halfpenny 9
Penalties: Halfpenny 2

The 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, 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 (c), 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 George North, 10 Jonny 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)