BRIAN O’DRISCOLL LED the Lions for the second time on the 2013 tour as Warren Gatland’s men faced the best of the rest in Newcastle today.
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Lions 64-0 Combined Country
10.08 – Welcome along to our coverage of game four of the 2013 Lions Tour to Australia.
Let’s get you started with a catch-up with Lions captain for the day Brian O’Driscoll:
YouTube: ARU TV
10.14 – Here are your teams. Lions first (bias shining through already):
Lions: Sean Maitland, Alex Cuthbert, Brian O’Driscoll (c), Jamie Roberts, George North, Stuart Hogg, Conor Murray: Alex Corbisiero, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole, Richie Gray, Ian Evans, Sean O’Brien, Justin Tipuric, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Rory Best, Ryan Grant, Matt Stevens, Alun AW Jones, Toby Faletau, Mike Phillips, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny.
10.16 – Tough choice for the Aussies?
The Socceroos are playing Jordan in a World Cup qualifier.
Combined Country: Nathan Trist; Alex Gibbon, Lewie Catt, Tereta-Junior Siakisni, Tom Cox; Angus Roberts, Mick Snowden; Haydn Hirsimaki, Josh Mann-Rea, Tim Metcher; Phoeniz Battye, Blake Enever; Richard Stanford, Jarrad Butler, Tim Davidson.
Replacements: Tom Kearney, Dylan Evans, Rikki Abraham, Rory Arnold, Trent Dyer, Adam McCormack, Shaun McCarthy, Dale Ah-Wang.
10.35 – Just over five minutes from kick-off. Call the first try-scorer (Lions) in our comments section below and we’ll give you a shout-out if you get it right.
10.40 – Great shout from Paul Ryan in our comments section below. Combined Country replacement outhalf Shaun McCarthy did indeed play for St Mary’s College a few years back. In the squad at the same time as Jonny Sexton.
10.41 – KICK-OFF
We’re underway. Lions claim the high ball and Hogg boots a 60-yarder. The return punt in claimed by Maitland. Both lads will be happy with the early touches.
10.43 – Back in the old routine – O’Driscoll to Roberts, crash-ball. Possession spilled away soon after but Cuthbert takes the fight to the C.C up the right flank. Knock-on by the Lions gives the home side a scrum.
10.46 – Oh, here comes the Lions pack. C.C front eight are moonwalking on the Newcastle turf. Penalty awarded but they play the advantage and O’Brien is bundled out of touch inside the Combined Country 22.
10.50 – TRY: Lions 7-0 Combined Country (Cuthbert ’7)
Tipuric makes the big break up the centre and into the 22. Murray finds Hoog. His crisps cut-out pass finds O’Driscoll and he puts Cuthbert clear on the right. Hogg’s conversion from the right touchline is on target and the kicking dreams continue for the Lions.
10.52 – TRY: Lions 14-0 Combined Country (Murray ’9)
Tipuric and Cuthbert combine and the Welsh winger says cheerio to three Aussies as he cuts inside. He offloads in the tackle to Murray, who dives over by the posts. Simple conversion.
10.54 – We’ve got another!
10.56 – TRY: Lions 19-0 Combined Country (Hogg ’12)
This is becoming a rout. O’Brien to Hogg and the afterburners do for the C.C defence. The Scot dives over with no-one near him. He then strikes the post with his conversion effort. The 100% run had to end some time.
10.58 – Well well. Two dodgy Lions lineouts in a row and a Maitland 22 clearance blocked down. Any Lion that makes a mistake will truly damage his Test chances. Combined Country camped on the Lions tryline and they get a penalty. They kick for the line.
11.02 – TRY: Lions 26-0 Combined Country (North ’19)
The pressure is soaked up, Tipuric steals from the mauling C.C. Quick hands spread the ball left and Maitland hares up the left wing. Alex Gibbon does not give up the chase but the fullback finds George North in support. He races over unopposed to dot down. Hogg converts.
You called it Ferg. Well done.
11.05 – Gray claims a high ball but is isolated and swarmed upon by the Aussies. Murray then boots over the top as there is no-one home at the back. Snowden is forced to hoof out. Hibbard with another lineout chance and he finds Gray this time. Deep in the C.C 22 and another try is close.
11.09 – TRY: Lions 33-0 Combined Country (Hibbard ’27)
Lions getting in some lineout practice rather than quick-taps or penalties. He finds Evans and the maul is set up. Hibbard hidden at the back. He peels off and crashes over. Over she goes from Hogg.
11.12 – Roberts not having the best of games at inside centre as he is held up and gives scrum ball to the Aussies. Two knock-ons and one turnover at the breakdown. He is still the favourite to start at 12 but will want to make more of an impact.
Cuthbert gets over for the first try. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
11.15 – TRY: Lions 38-0 Combined Country (North ’32)
Roberts used as a decoy runner with every other backline player getting their speedy hands on the ball in a sweeping right to left move that punctures the home side. North benefits from the pace of that move and slides over for an easy try. Hogg’s conversion is about 10 yards wide and right.
11.18 – TheScore.ie reader David Elkin has this insight from his couch-shaped perch in Toronto, Canada:
Anyone trying to read into today’s performances will have a task on their hands. This will be less revealing than a public training session. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly pro this kind of game. It seems like an old-fashioned tour game against a rag-tag amateur opposition. Nothing wrong with that, on a tour that has been accused of being overtly commercial.
David wants to know if Hogg, who has never made a pro start as outhalf before today, is the first Lion to achieve such a feat. I think I’ve got an answer (and player) but I’ll let the debate rage for a while.
11.19 – O’Brien goes close out at the righthand corner and we have a TMO but I believe it is more wishful thinking than anything. Foot on the line. Lineout to Combined Country.
11.22 – 39 minutes gone as the Lions hit the line and get a 5m throw. Hibbard throws a cabbage and it evades the jumping Evans. C.C kick it out of play.
11.24 – The benefits of this tour will really show for Conor Murray next season, I believe. He has been impressive so far in red. Philips is carrying a slight knee knock so it is not beyond reason for the scrumhalf to start the Test Series against the Wallabies.
11.34 – O’Driscoll has been playing a lot of his rugby at inside centre today, with Roberts coming from further back, running angles and trying to punch holes. Stand-out players so far have been Tipuric, Cuthbert, BO’D and Hogg. Corbisiero has looked handy too.
11.36 – KICK-OFF
Hogg gets us started in the second-half as Sky’s Stuart Barnes reveals the Combined Country squad only got together properly, for the first time, on Sunday. Two subs on. AW Jones and Leigh Halfpenny (on for North on the wing) enter the fray.
11.38 – Knock-on from Gibbon on the right flank. Maitland has moved to the wing to give Halfpenny another 40 mins at fullback.
11.42 – O’Brien is the next to fumble forward. Snowden looks to launch a ball across his backline in the 22 but is shut down by a diving Hibbard. Good commitment from the Welsh hooker.
11.47 – TRY: Lions 43-0 Combined Country (O’Driscoll ’49)
Nine minutes they kept them out for. The Lions hoover in the C.C players by going through the phases before going left and wide. Maitland finds O’Driscoll on the overlap and the captain dives over. Halfpenny then MISSES his first conversion attempt.
Front row changed completely for the Lions and Rory Best connects with AW Jones on his first lineout throw.
… and doesn’t he look chuffed about it.
11.51 – TRY: Lions 50-0 Combined Country (Halfpenny ’55)
Delayed pass from Hogg after Maitland runs a decoy. Good line from Halfpenny, who dives over for his first Lions try. Second conversion is more like it and it sails over.
11.53 – Heaslip is off for Faletau. Davies is on too but it is Roberts off and O’Driscoll looks like he will play the full 80.
11.58 – Best finds Evans in the lineout again but, moments later, another is lost with AW Jones left shaking his head. They will need to cut out those throwing and catching errors against the ‘Tahs and, more importantly, the Wallabies. O’Connell looking more and more guaranteed as a Test match starter.
Faletau misses O’Brien, running off his shoulder. Matt Stevens then fumbles forward.
12.02 – Murray tries to pick and dive over the line out on the left but he is held up. O’Driscoll and Halfpenny nearly combined beforehand but the Welshman was stopped a yard short.
Former St Mary’s and Wicklow RFC outhalf Shaun McCarthycomes on for Combined Country.
12.06 – TRY: Lions 57-0 Combined Country (O’Brien ’65)
O’Driscoll is marvellously tackled low and around the ankles. He tosses a pass up for Davies to keep the move alive. Murray locates O’Brien and he dashes over, dusting a tackler off in the process. Another fine conversion from Halfpenny.
TMO denies the Combined Country as they go close but Hogg does just enough to hold his man up after trying to backheel a grubber kick out of his 22.
12.08 – Great to see O’Driscoll and O’Brien screaming that there should be no late try. Leigh Halfpenny then has a howler under a high ball but Maitland is at home to clean up. The Combined Country remain on the ’0′ donut.
In the lead-up to that C.C chance, Rory Best started the woes by overthrowing at the lineout. His radar is still wonky.
12.11 – O’Driscoll still chasing down every last loose ball and tackling like a demon. He is determined to keep the opponents scoreless. Best finds Evans at the front of the Lions lineout. 73 minutes gone.
12.12 – Philips is one for the last few moments of the game. O’Driscoll goes close out left but two men shunt him out of play. TMO coming up…
12.13 – Foot just about on the touchline. No try:
12.15 – Right, I seem to be on Best-watch. He connects with AW Jones here. Maitland has been very impressive today and he catches, launches another attack, side-steps two men and links up with Tipuric. The flanker’s return pass is forward.
12.17 – 90 seconds to go and the Lions looking for a final score.
12.20 – TRY: Lions 64-0 Combined Country (Davies ’79)
O’Driscoll you beauty! Overlap out on the right again. The captain takes a quick breath, assesses the situation and weights a fine grubber into the corner for Davies to flop upon for five points. Try number 10. Halfpenny finishes the contest with another sweetly struck conversion.
12.24 – Combined Country fought back well in the second-half. Tim Davidson, the captain, says he is proud of the efforts of his teammates in the second 40. On the plus side for him, he has earned ’30 new mates from this week’.
O’Driscoll pays credit to C.C for ‘giving it the full 80′ and says the most pleasing aspect was keeping the opposition scoreline at 0.
12.33 – O’Driscoll asked about his late dash up the left wing as he tried to grubber on his initial grubber. He tangled with Dale Ah-Weng on the touchline and limped back onto the field. Asked by Aussie TV host Rod Kafer if that was the best idea, with five minutes left on the clock, O’Driscoll admitted, “I probably shouldn’t be doing that.”
12.34 – That’s it for our live coverage. Stay with us over the coming minutes and hours for all the post-match reaction, comments and analysis. Feel free to let us know what you made of the game, in our comments section below.