Sydney - Leigh Halfpenny contributed 30 points as the British and Irish Lions
crushed the Waratahs 47-17 with some thrilling running
rugby to claim a fifth win in five tour matches at the Sydney Football
Stadium on Saturday.
Coach Warren Gatland had said this was not a
shadow test team but few would complain if the same line-up,
particularly the backline, were to run out to face the Wallabies in
Brisbane in the first match of the three-game series next weekend.
definitely stepped up this week, we knew we had to. I thought the
forwards did a great job and the backs were very clinical. So very
pleased with the performance all round," Lions captain Sam Warburton
said in a pitchside interview.
Halfpenny scored two tries in four
minutes around half-time and converted eight kicks from eight attempts
to add 20 points with his boot. The other scores came from Jonny Sexton,
Tom Croft and the outstanding Jonathan Davies.
without 11 Wallabies through national duty or injury, gave the Lions
only their second real contest of the tour in front of 40 805 fans and
two tries from combative centre Tom Carter kept them in the match for
the first 50 minutes.
Warburton had a solid rather than
spectacular game as he looked to book his place in the Test side but
centre Jamie Roberts came off the pitch with what looked like a
hamstring injury after 66 minutes and must be a doubt for Brisbane.
Wing Simon Zebo, called up as cover for Tommy Bowe, nearly made a
spectacular start to his Lions debut after 38 seconds when he finished
off a blindside move, only for the TV pictures to show that his left
boot had grazed the touchline.
After Halfpenny had opened the
scoring with a penalty from halfway, Zebo was involved in another move
down the same flank, releasing Davies whose fine pass found flyhalf
Sexton in support and the Irishman finished with flourish.
converted to make it 10-0 after eight minutes but the Waratahs were not
going to be blown away and it was their combative centre Tom Carter who
got on the scoresheet next.
Bernard Foley's crosskick from inside
his own half found Peter Betham charging down the left wing and he
tossed the ball out of the tackle to Carter who, despite his evident
lack of pace, got to the line before the cover defence.
extended the lead to 13-7 with his second penalty but the Waratahs
stormed back and huge lock Will Skelton stormed over the line after a
well-worked line-out but lost the ball in the tackle of Mike Phillips.
McKibbin and Halfpenny traded penalties but the Lions fullback had the
last word in the opening half when he ran in for his first try on an
overlap and converted to send the tourists into the break 23-10 up.
second try came four minutes after the break after a neat midfield move
had set Davies free and the centre's pass sent his fellow Welshman
scuttling over the line.
The Waratahs were not about to fold,
however, and Carter crashed over the line from close range after more
good work from Skelton for a converted try to cut the deficit to 30-17.
Halfpenny penalty extended the lead and flank Croft just about
assured the victory with his try after a Davies interception on 55
minutes, fending off centre Tom Kingston on a powerful run to the line.
Lions replacements just after the hour mark disrupted the tourists'
rhythm but nine minute from time Davies got reward for a fine
performance when a Ben Youngs pass left him with a free run to the line.
centre Rob Horne's chances of playing in the first test, already thin
after being released from the Wallabies squad to beef up the home side,
could disappear if he is cited for an early tip tackle on Halfpenny.
"We hung in there, I thought we played some good rugby, they are a quality team," Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis said.