British & Irish Lions 59 Barbarians RFC 8
Warren Gatland's 2013 Lions got their tour off to a successful start with a comprehensive victory over the Barbarians in a hot and very humid Hong Kong Stadium today.
Mike Phillips threw down the gauntlet to his rivals for the Test scrum-half berth with two instinctive solo scores as the Lions scored eight tries to one, captain Paul O'Connell opening the try count on the half-hour with Welshmen Jon Davies (one), Alex Cuthbert (two), Dan Lydiate (one) and Alun Wyn Jones (one) getting in on the act in the second half, Kahn Fotauli'i grabbing a consolation for the Barbarians.
With humidity well above 80% and temperatures at around 30C at the end of the hottest day in Hong Kong this year, handling conditions were far from ideal and scrummaging an ordeal for the forwards, despite added water breaks every 15 minutes.
Yet despite the hardships, the Lions management will be pleased to have got the tour off to a winning start with no apparent fitness concerns after an energy-sapping evening in the Far East, the Lions buidling on a 23-3 half-time lead with six second-half tries.
Starting Lions fly-half Owen Farrell slotted three penalties and three conversions but did not have the best of games in open play, seeing two kicks charged down, blowing a try-scoring opportunity with an intercepted pass. Farrell was also involved in an early dust-up with Schalk Brits at a ruck which earned the Springbok a yellow card. Farrell's poor pass also led to Fotauli'i's second-half try although former All Black Joe Rockocoko stepped inside No.8 Tony Faletau with considerable ease to set up the Samoan for the Baa-Baas' lone five-pointer.
Farrell immediately made way for Jonathan Sexton and both he and fellow Irish half-back Conor Murray, on for Phillips, made good impressions, the scrum-half in particular accepting the challenge from his Welsh rival by having a hand in both of Cuthbert's tries.
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: S Hogg; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts (G North, 67), S Maitland; O Farrell (J Sexton, 57), M Phillips (C Murray, 57); M Vunipola (C Healy, 55), R Hibbard (T Youngs, 53), A Jones (M Stevens, 55); R Gray, P O'Connell – captain (A W Jones, 28-36; 63); D Lydiate, J Tipuric, T Faletau (J Heaslip, 63).
BARBARIANS: J Payne; J Rockocoko, E Daly, C Laulala (J Hook, 68), T Ngwenya (M Tindall, 59); N Evans, D Yachvili (K Fotuali'i, 53); P James (D Jones, 58), S Brits (L Ghiraldini, 44), M Castrogiovanni (A Lo Cicero, 68); M Wentzel (J Hamilton, 58), D Mumm; S Manoa (L Ghiraldini, 10-18; I Harinordoquy, 53), S Jones, S Parisse – captain.
Yellow card: Brits 8-18
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)