Tuesday 20 February 2018

O'Connell leads Lions to facile win over the Babas

Barbarians 8 Lions 59

Barbarians' Takudzwa Ngwenya (R) is tackled by British and Irish Lions captain Paul O'Connell
Barbarians' Takudzwa Ngwenya (R) is tackled by British and Irish Lions captain Paul O'Connell
British and Irish Lions' Mako Vunipola and Richard Hibbard (background) during the Tour Match at the Hong Kong Stadium
British & Irish Lions' Owen Farrell (R) reacts after his team scored a try during the first half of their match against the Barbarians
British and Irish Lions' Jamie Roberts (L) and Barbarians' Joe Rokocoko jump for the ball

Conor George in Hong Kong

PAUL O’CONNELL led the way for the Lions as he scored the opening try of the 2013 Lions Tour, his first in 12 Lions appearances, in a largely forgettable match in Hong Kong.

It was very much mission accomplished for the Lions but this was a game that told us nothing about what their true prospects in Australia are. The Barbarians were appalling.

Clearly the humbling at Twickenham when England tamely put them down didn’t cause as much anguish and soul-searching as had been suggested and they presented nowhere near the sort of challenge the Lions had been hoping for.

The primary reason for starting the Tour in the Orient was to filler the Lions’ coffers – they ran the game – but with the stadium at less than capacity and a Barbarians opposition who were far from invested they must content themselves with taking whatever positives they can.

O’Connell led the way with a Superman impression as he swan-dived over the line for the game’s opening try after 28 minutes but it was scrum-half Mike Phillips who took most of the plaudits with a strong performance and two tries before he was replaced by Conor Murray after 57 minutes.

Phillips exposed the soft underbelly of the Barbarians’ defence with a gorgeous show-and-go break four minutes after his initial break led to O’Connell’s opening try as the Lions comfortably opened up a 23-3 half time lead.

Indeed the most notable action in a first half was a bust up between Saracens’ team-mates Owen Farrell and Schalk Brits that resulted in the Barbarians’ Brits being yellow carded after landing a hay-maker on the out-half.

Phillips was over again immediately after the re-start when he took a ball off the top of the line-out from his Welsh team-mate from Dan Lydiate.

The Barbarians did shift themselves with a break-away try from replacement Kahn Fotuali’I but it little more than a footnote.

By now Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton joined fellow debutant Cian Healy into the fray and the Irish half back duo had an immediate impact.

Murray showed a great turn of pace to send Alex Cuthbert in for one of his two tries after Jonathan Davis capped off a strong performance with a try of his own.

Dan Lydiate and Alun Wyn Jones completed the rout in the closing minutes after the Lions ran out comfortable victors.

Scorers Lions: M Phillips 2 tries, A Cuthbert 2 tries, P O’Connell try, J Davis try, D Lydiate try, A Wyn Jones try, O Farrell 3 pens 3 cons, J Sexton 2 cons. Barbarians: K Fotuailli’i try, N Evans pen.

LIONS: S Hogg (Scotland), A Cuthbert (Wales), J Davis (Wales), J Roberts (Wales) (G North Wales, 66), S Maitland (Scotland), O Farrell (England (J Sexton (Ireland) 57), M Phillips Wales (C Murray 57), M Vuniploa (England (C Healy Ireland 55), R Hibbard (Wales (T Youngs 53)), A Jones (Wales (M Stevens 55)), R Gray (Scotland), P O’Connell (Ireland) A Wyn Jones 63), D Lydiate (Wales), J Tipuric (Wales), T Faletau (Wales) (J Heaslip 63).

BARBARIANS:  J Payne (Ulster); J Rokocoko (Bayonne & New Zealand), E Daly (Wasps), C Laulala (Munster & New Zealand) (J Hook (Perpignan & Wales) 69), T Ngwenya (Biarritz & USA) M Tindall (Gloucester & England 59); N Evans (Harlequins & New Zealand), D Yachvili (Biarritz & France) (K Fotuali’i (Ospreys & Samoa) 53); P James (Bath & Wales) (D Jones (Ospreys & Wales 58), S Brits (Saracens & South Africa (L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso & Italy)), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester & Italy) (A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro & Italy) 70), M Wentzel (Wasps & South Africa) (J Hamilton (Gloucester & Scotland 58), D Mumm (Exeter & Australia), S Manoa (Northampton & USA), S Jones (London Wasps) (I Harinordoquy (Biarritz & France53), S Parisse (Stade Francais & Italy, captain).

Referee: Steve Walsh, Australia.

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