THE WELSH LADS tore the Barbarians asunder at the weekend. With eight Irishmen in the starting XV, the spectators in Hong Kong got to shape events against Western Force.
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Lions 69-17 Western Force
10.43 – Welcome along to our coverage of the second game of the Lions 2013 Tour to Hong Kong and Australia. Let’s kick you off with the line-ups:
Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Manu Tuilagi, George North, Jonny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Dan Cole, Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Evans, Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Matt Stevens, Geoff Parling, Toby Faletau, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Sean Maitland.
Western Force: Sam Christie; Dane Haylett-Petty, Ed Stubbs, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, Corey Brown; Sam Norton-Knight, Brett Sheehan; Salesa Manu, James Hilterbrand, Dalesi Ma’afu; Toby Lynn, Phoenix Battye; Angus Cottrell, Matt Hodgson (captain), Richard Brown.
Replacements: Hugh Roach, Sione Kolo, Tim Metcher, Ben Matwijow, Lachlan McCaffrey, Alby Mathewson, Nick Haining, Junior Rasolea.
10.46 – Will Greenwood believes Brian O’Driscoll should stick close to Manu Tuilagi and enjoy the show. He told Sky Sports:
He should follow the big lump… my advice would be stay close and wait to the cannonball to make an impact.”
10.49 – TheScore.ie columnist David Wallace believes the Lions gameplan was unveiled against the Barbarians at the weekend. It will not differentiate too much today. Wallace said:
From that first game alone it was clear to see Gatland’s tactics emerging. They exhausted the 5m channel and were happy to use the blindside, plough along out there and keep the opposition guessing. They want to get as much space out wide as they can but are happy to make breaks in-field.”
You can read the rest of Wally’s preview here >>
10.51 – Rob Howley giving last-minute instructions to O’Driscoll and Tuilagi at Patersons Stadium:
10.52 – How do you think the Lions will fare against the Force?
11.05 – Here comes BO’D. Here comes BIL. Here come the Lions:
11.06 – KICK-OFF
Firce get us underway and Murray box-kicks after an early ruck.
11.10 – PEN: Lions 3-0 Barbarians (Halfpenny ’3)
Late change in the kicking duties and Halfpenny gets the nod. Neil Jenkins made the call late yesterday evening we are told. The Welshmen slots over an early penalty.
11.13 – Tommy Bowe has looked good so far and the Lions are getting turnover ball. Sexton then unfurls the patented crossfield kick. On a plate for George North but the winger does not release in the tackle and Force get a penalty.
11.15 – Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins reasoned that it would be a good, early test to see Halfpenny kick in a tour game. If the fullback can kick like he was in training yesterday – we’re told he was near flawless – then he could secure the role for the Test Series. Parity at scrum time, for now.
11.18 – TRY! Lions 10-0 Western Force (Sexton ’11)
Here we go. Murray to Sexton, inside dummy feint thrown and his opposite number buys it. He jogs through to dot down. Halfpenny converts a simple one.
Sexton scores the first try.
11.24 – Bowe with another linebreak and he tees up Tuilagi and the big man is so, so close to getting his first Lions try. Held up just short of the line.
11.26 – We’ve got a TMO coming up…
11.27 – Oh, the TMO is to decide whether Healy was held up or not. Attacking scrum given right in front of the posts. Heaslip finds Murray and, as he contemplates a Philips jink inside, he is double-teamed and spills forward.
11.32 – O’Driscoll intercept is called back but he is whistled back. Tom Croft had already conceded a penalty and the Force had advantage. They kick for the line and win the lineout. Moments earlier, Halfpenny was in lots of trouble as Corey Brown almost got to a grubber kick after giving away a huge head-start.
Force go through the phases before O’Driscoll concedes a penalty by going offside. They go for a lineout again. Good stuff.
26 minutes gone and, although their first attacking heave went astray, the Force are doing well and showing some fight. Healy called for driving in at an illegal angle at the scrum. Penalty conceded. Force hit the line but get pinged for a crooked lineout throw. Hilterbrand’s second slip-up.
11.40 – 30 minutes on the clock and the Lions concede another penalty before Heaslip swings momentum by stealing turnover ball at the breakdown.
Sean O’Brien then gets a hospital pass and is belted backwards by Matt Hodgson. He doesn’t release and a penalty is conceded.
11.41 – PEN: Lions 10-3 Western Force (Sheehan ’32)
Sheehan with a relatively simple effort as he slots over from 32 metres out and to the right of the posts.
11.42 – TRY! Lions 15-3 Western Force
Brian O’Driscoll dives over in the corner after a great break up the lift and fine work from North.
11.44 – CON: Lions 17-3 Western Force (Halfpenny ’34).
The fullback nails a beauty from the left touchline. Here is how he got over after a one-two with North:
11.47 – Could be trouble here. Healy is down getting treatment and the stretcher cart is on. Medical staff look worried. Could be the ankle.
11.51 – This looks nasty. He was grappled in midfield and the ankle looked to turn and twist in the tackle. He is going to be taken off the pitch in a motorised cart:
Healy receives on-field treatment.
The Irish curse has come to Australia – first Kearney, now Healy. Fox Sports Australia are also reporting that Sheehan has alleged Healy bit him in an earlier ruck.
11.53 – PEN: Lions 20-3 Western Force (Halfpenny ’36)
Meamnwhile, after Healy leaves the pitch, Halfpenny gets his second penalty after slotting over from just outside the 22.
11.57 – TRY: Lions 27-3 Western Force (Croft ’40)
O’Driscoll butchers a scoring chance out wide right but the Lions keep possession and get a gigantic five-on-two overlap. AW Jones could dot down but he passes nto Croft, who dives over in the left corner. The Halfpenny conversion, 39m out and to the left is on the money again.
12.03 – Here’s what our chum David Elkin, in Toronto, makes of the action so far:
Halfpenny, as expected, is kicking well. Now, Sexton is also a technically proficient goal kicker, but I think it helps everyone’s game that the duties go to Halfpenny for the Tests which will allow Sexton to concentrate on the rest of his game. Halfpenny is the most consistent international kicker on tour. A few players really stood out for me in the first half – Alun Wyn Jones, Sean O’Brien and Heaslip went well in the forwards especially. Really poor showing for Rory Best in the one area where he needed to excel to ease the worries of the coaches – his throwing. Irrelevant how good he is in other aspects, they won’t start him if he’s missing the men in the lineout. Unfortunate.
12.10 – The second half KICKS OFF
12.12 – TRY: Lions 34-3 Western Force (Heaslip ’42)
Heaslip finishes what he starts and some good work from Vunipola and O’Brien in the lead-up. Murray to Sexton and a huge scooped pass to an un-marked Heaslip who dots down, unruffled, in the rigghthand corner. Halfpenny goes 6 from 6.
12.17 – TRY: Lions 34-10 Western Force (Brown ’46)
Sheehan finds Richard Brown, the No. 8, and the big back-row forces through a gap left by O’Brien and dives over despite pressure from AW Jones. The scrumhalf adds the extras.
12.21 – TRY: Lions 41-10 Western Force (Vunipola ’50)
Three men can’t keep Healy’s replacement out ans he dives over for a fine score in the righthand corner. Healy’s replacement profits in the Irisman’s misfortune. Another tough, tough conversion attempt for Halfpenny and he gets it. No doubt. I love that man!
12.26 – Sean O’Brien, despite a defensive lapse for the Brown try, is looking excellent. After Justin Tipuric’s supreme outing against the BaaBaa’s, the pressure is truly on Lions captain Sam Warburton. He returned to full training today and will be hoping to make a similar impact against Queensland Reds.
12.28 – Yellow card for Stubbs of the Force as he came in to tackle North and never rolled away.
12.32 – TRY: Lions 48-10 Western Force (Bowe ’58)
Superbly timed passes as they draw in the Force defence before Murray goes wide. Bowe pins the ears back and dives over in the eight corner after outmuscling Corey Brown. Another tricky (again) conversion for Halfpenny but he’s not missing today. Over it goes. 19 minutes left.
12.35 – TRY: Lions 48-17 Western Force (McCaffrey ’62)
O’Brien concedes his second penalty of the game. Force reject the kicking option and rumble forward. Sub Lachlan McCaffrey comes in at a great angle and gets through Sexton to dive over and score. Sheehan slots over.
12.38 – TRY: Lions 55-17 Western Force (O’Driscoll ’65)
Competition for Jamie Roberts as Tuilagi busts forward and links up with his captain, O’Driscoll. All the space is made and BO’D touches down unopposed. Halfpenny with a simple conversion for a change.
12.40 – TRY: Lions 62-17 Western Force (Farrell ’66)
What is it about the dummy pass that is flummoxing these players? Farrell, on for Sexton, tries it next. Works a treat and he races over to dot down under the posts. Another close-range chip for Halfpenny. 20 points from the Welshman’s boot and eight tries for the Lions. 69 minutes gone.
12.44 – Tom Croft – the man who broke his neck 15 months ago – just took a lusty head-to-head blow from Richard Brown but is up, though groggy, after treatment. Encouraging. Faletau replaces him regardless but Heaslip tells him to back off – the back of the pack is his domain today.
12.47 – Oh yes, two minutes late on this but AW Jones was yellow-carded during that spell of treatment for Croft. Into the final five minutes. Heaslip has been impressive today, by gum.
12.49 – TRY: Lions 69-17 Western Force (Parling ’75)
What a pick-up, off his ankles, from Vunipola as he keeps an attack alive. Faletau prominent three times in the build-up. Parling clutches the pass and dives over. Halfpenny batters it over.
12.53 – 80 minute shift from O’Brien, O’Driscoll and Heaslip today. Where does O’Brien fit in the Lions back-row? At blindside perhaps? Here’s how it is looking so far (to me): O’Brien, Tipuric, Faletau.
Heaslip not too far away as he is in fantastic form. Warburton has a big Saturday coming up.
12.53 – FULL-TIME
12.55 – What did you make of all that? a 52-point win eclipsing the 51-point margin over the Barbarians.
Stay with us for post-match reactions and comments. As soon as we find out more on Cian Healy we’ll let you know.
13.03 – Brian O’Driscoll and Leigh Halfpenny both talk about raising the bar after Saturday’s win over the BaaBaa’s. O’Driscoll credits George North and Manu Tuilagi for his tries. No mention of Healy or any biting allegations but I’m sure that will all play out over the coming hours.