Lions ease to victory in warm-up match with Barbarians
Eight tries to one and no serious injury concerns
Barbarians 3 British and Irish Lions 30: Warren Gatland’s Lions would happily have settled for that outcome before kick-off in their tour opener.
The red-shirted pack dominated proceedings in sweltering heat that left professional sportsmen of all shapes and sizes gasping for air as early as the fifth minute and when the Barbarians’ defensive resistance was broken early in the second half, the traffic was of the one-way variety.
It was too hot for rugby…and far too hot for fighting. But there was one incident involving the Lions outside-half Owen Farrell and the Baa-Baas hooker Schalk Brits, colleagues at Saracens, that set tongues wagging. Brits whacked Farrell with an attempted punch that turned into a forearm smash and departed to the sin bin with only seven minutes of the game completed.
The Barbarians had been horribly outscrummaged by England at Twickenham six days previously, and whatever steps they took to address this fundamental issue failed to have the desired effect. Adam Jones, the Wales tight-head prop who is considered one of the jewels in this Lions crown, made an unholy mess of his former Ospreys clubmate Paul James, with predictable results. Repeatedly penalised at the set-piece, the Baa-Baas had no platform on which to construct an attacking game.
Not that the Lions were particularly proficient during the long periods of the first half they spent on the front foot. Jonathan Davies, regarded by many as a long-odds bet for a Test place at outside centre, shortened those odds with some intelligent running angles and the odd smart pass out of contact, but the humid conditions made handling devilishly difficult and the ball hit the deck more often than not.
If it was not until the 27th minute that the Lions, ahead by two Farrell penalties to a long-range effort from the uncapped Wasps centre Elliot Daly, pieced together a decent spell of phase play, it was well worth the wait. Mike Phillips, not at his best with his scrum-half’s passing but as strong as ever on the charge, was brilliantly tackled by the Italian prop Martin Castrogiovanni at the line, but O’Connell laid his hands on the ball at the ruck and plunged over, claiming the touchdown at the second attempt.
The Lions then doubled the try-count through Phillips, who slipped away from an uncharacteristically leaden-footed Sergio Parisse in broken field and scored to left of the sticks. Farrell landed both conversions and then gave his side a 20-point interval lead with a 50-metre penalty with the last act of the half.
On the restart, scoring became far easier. Phillips ran in straight from a Dan Lydiate line-out delivery, cruising through a yawning gap left by the young Baa-Baas flanker Sam Jones; Davies touched down a ricochet off his fellow centre Jamie Roberts; Alex Cuthbert twice switched on the afterburner down the right to take the Lions past 40 points; Lydiate wrestled over from the line-out to take them past 50; Alun Wyn Jones trundled over at the death to wrap things up.
But perhaps the most eye-catching moment came from the All Black wing Joe Rokocoko, who let rip from a position deep in his own half to create the Baa-Baas’ only try, completed by Kahn Fotuali’i.
Scorers: Lions – Tries: Phillips 2, Cuthbert 2, O’Connell, Davies, Lydiate, A W Jones. Conversions: Farrell 3, Sexton 2. Penalties: Farrell 3. Barbarians – Try: Fotuali’i. Penalty: Daly.
British and Irish Lions: S Hogg (Glasgow), A Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues), S Maitland (Glasgow); O Farrell (Saracens), M Phillips (Bayonne); M Vunipola (Saracens), R Hibbard (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), R Gray (Sale), P O’Connell (Munster, capt), D Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), J Tipuric (Ospreys), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: A W Jones (Ospreys) for O’Connell 28-36 and 61; T Youngs (Leicester) for Hibbard 51; C Healy (Leinster) for Vunipola 54; M Stevens (Saracens) for A Jones 54; J Sexton (Leinster) for Farrell 57; C Murray (Munster) for Phillips 57; J Heaslip (Leinster) for Faletau 61; G North (Scarlets) for Roberts 66.
Barbarians: J Payne (Ulster); T Ngwenya (Biarritz), E Daly (Wasps), C Laulala (Munster), J Rokocoko (Bayonne); N Evans (Harlequins), D Yachvili (Biarritz); P James (Bath), S Brits (Saracens), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), M Wentzel (Wasps), D Mumm (Exeter), S Manoa (Northampton), S Jones (Wasps), S Parisse (Srade Francais, capt).
Replacements: L Ghiralidini (Treviso) for Manoa 9-19; K Fotuali’i (Ospreys) for Yachvili 51; I Harinordoquy (Biarritz) for Mumm 51; D Jones (Ospreys) for James 57; M Tindall (Gloucester) for Ngwenya 58; J Hamilton (Gloucester) for Wentzel 58; J Hook (Perpignan) for Laulala 66; A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro) for Castrogiovanni 68.
Referee: S Walsh (Australia).
Belfast Telegraph Digital