WESTERN FORCE 17 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS 69
By Simon Lewis, Perth
The British & Irish Lions racked up another convincing victory in their second game of the tour as nine tries and 11 successful kicks from 11 from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny saw off the Western Force at Patersons Stadium.
Lions captain for the night Brian O'Driscoll scored a try in each half as an understrength Force side, resting players ahead of a Super XV clash with the Waratahs on Sunday, were ruthlessly dispatched.
Lions kicking coach Neil Jenkins had handed full-back Leigh Halfpenny the kicking duties ahead of fly-half Jonny Sexton and the Welshman opened his account with the simplest of penalty kicks in front of the posts as the Force were penalised for the first of many times for offside.
After more concerted pressure from the tourists, the opening try was a matter of when not if and with referee Glen Jackson playing the advantage after a high tackle, Halfpenny charged into the 22 and into contact from where Sexton finished off under the posts having found the gap in the home side's defensive line, the full-back's conversion forging a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes.
The Force's ill-discipline and lack of accuracy continued, with Jackson repeatedly warning the Australians for offside infractions and then collapsing a maul but the most serious allegation of foul play came against the Lions, when Force scrum-half Breet Sheehan complained he had bitten, although video footage found insufficient evidence to support the claim.
The incident seemed to spur the Force, who enjoyed a spell of territory and possession that forced the Lions into some defensive work, but just as Sheehan slotted the first home points with a penalty, Warren Gatland's side immediately hit back from the kick off, quick hands getting the ball out to George North whose pass back inside from the left wing was met by captain Brian O'Driscoll and 12 years on from a scoring Lions debut in Perth, the Irish centre scampered over in the corner, Halfpenny converting from the touchline.
The Lions were hitting their stride and Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip was looking particularly strong, back to his ball-carrying best. Their momentum was broken though, when Heaslip's Leinster and Ireland team-mate Cian Healy went down in agony after being tackled by Angus Cottrell.
After several minutes' treatment, the prop was stretchered off in the 36th minute although it was revealed that he had been sent for a precautionary x-ray on only a sprained left ankle.
The Lions closed out the half in convincing fashion though with Halfpenny kicking a penalty and then converting Tom Croft's try to end the opening period with the Lions in the ascendancy at 27-3.
There was more of the same in the second half as the Irish Lions made their presence felt, Sexton's long pass picking out Heaslip in the right corner for a try in the opening minute.
The Force responded through a Richard Brown try, converted by Sheehan, in the 44th minute and another converted try from sub Lachlan McCaffrey in 63rd but they served merely as punctuation marks in the Lions' effort as Healy's replacement Mako Vunipola, Tommy Bowe and another from O'Driscoll put the tourists beyond reach, aided by Halfpenny's accurate kicking from the touchline on a peerless night with the boot.
The Welsh full-back did not miss a kick and took his haul to nine conversions and 11 kicks out of 11 by converting tries from the English replacements Owen Farrell and Geoff Parling, the only sour notes in the half coming with a yellow card apiece in separate incidents for killing the ball by the Force's Ed Stubbs and the Lions' Alun Wyn Jones, while Croft was subbed following a nasty clash of heads as Richard Brown charged into contact. But all in all, another satisfying and conclusive victory for Gatland's charges, who next play the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
WESTERN FORCE: S Christie; D Haylett-Petty (J Rasolea, 73), E Stubbs, C Tuatara-Morrison, C Brown (N Haining, 62); S Norton-Knight, B Sheehan (A Mathewson, 73); S Manu, J Hilterbrand, S Ma'afu (S Kolo, 50); T Lynn (T Metcher, 66), P Battye; A Cottrell (L McCaffrey, 53), M Hodgson - captain, R Brown.
Replacements not used: H Roach, B Matwijow
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: L Halfpenny; T Bowe, B O’Driscoll – captain, M Tuilagi, G North; J Sexton (O Farrell, 67), C Murray (B Youngs, 67); C Healy (M Vunipola, 36), R Best (T Youngs, 61), D Cole (M Stevens, 68); A W Jones, I Evans (G Parling, 61); T Croft (T Faletau, 71), S O’Brien, J Heaslip.
Replacements not used: S Maitland.
REFEREE: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)