Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Lions too strong for Rebels

Sean O'Brien, left, scored one of the Lions' five tries

The British and Irish Lions concluded their midweek tour schedule in Australia with a comprehensive 35-0 victory over the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.

And a handful of players - led by blockbusting England centre Manu Tuilagi - enhanced their claims to feature in coach Warren Gatland's matchday 23 for next Saturday's second Test against the Wallabies.

Flanker Sean O'Brien - another star performer - scrum-half Conor Murray, his replacement Ben Youngs and wing Sean Maitland all scored tries, while there was a second-half penalty try that underlined the Lions' forward dominance.

Fly-half Owen Farrell kicked three conversions and Stuart Hogg landed two as they kept an outgunned Rebels side scoreless.

Barely 24 hours after talismanic Ireland lock Paul O'Connell was ruled out of the tour due to a broken arm, Gatland will have been encouraged by second rows Ian Evans and Richie Gray being prominent influences throughout.

And Toby Faletau kept the pressure on current Test number eight Jamie Heaslip with arguably his most complete contribution Down Under.

It was a vastly-improved effort on last Tuesday's 14-12 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra, when the Lions barely fired a shot in anger, but there was a determined and driven streak about them this time around.

Lions captain Dan Lydiate told Sky Sports 1 afterwards: "We definitely had to up our game coming here and we wanted to get the result and keep the momentum going for the weekend.

"It's a massive game for us this weekend and a few of the boys are putting their hands up for selection. A lot of boys missed out on selection last weekend so they really wanted to take their chance tonight.

"The main thing was to play well as a team but also to play well as an individual and put yourself forward for selection. All credit to the boys and to the Rebels boys, they certainly gave us a good game."

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