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Lions thrash Country XV to go four from four

11 June 2013

  • North picks up first-half brace in another heavy win
  • Tourists now move to Sydney for Saturday's clash with Waratahs
George North

Photo: Getty Images

The Lions ran in 10 tries to beat a Combined New South Wales/Queensland Country XV 64-0 and maintain an unbeaten record on their tour of Australia.

George North scored two of the Lions' six first-half tries during a free-running display from the back division as Scottish youngster Stuart Hogg pulled the strings from fly-half.

There were also tries for Alex Cuthbert, Richard Hibbard, Conor Murray, skipper Brian O'Driscoll, Sean O'Brien, Stuart Hogg, Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies. Hogg booted four conversions and half-time replacement Halfpenny three.

Quite what head coach Warren Gatland learned from his side's demolition of a team made up of club players raised in New South Wales and Queensland – including some with Super Rugby experience – is open to question.

But the Lions did stand firm in defence on the few occasions required and some possible Test combinations – most notably O'Driscoll and Jamie Roberts in the centre – had a chance to gel.

The tour moves on to Sydney on Saturday when the New South Wales Waratahs will provide stiffer opposition ahead of the opening Test in Brisbane on June 22.

The Lions opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Cuthbert cruised over in the corner after the ball had been worked quickly from left to right.

Two more Lions tries followed quickly, Murray going in under the posts from Justin Tipuric's pass and Hogg dropping the shoulder before going through a gaping hole. Hogg converted the first two but his third effort cannoned back off a post; nevertheless the Lions led 19-0 after 16 minutes.

Sean Maitland

Photo: Getty Images

The Combined XV enjoyed a five-minute spell camped on the Lions' line after a Hibbard lineout throw had gone awry. Twice they kicked penalties to the corner but could find no way through and were then hit on the break as North and Sean Maitland exchanged passes in a length-of-the-field breakout, finished off by North.

There was time for two more tries before half-time, hooker Hibbard peeling off a maul to crash over from close range and North adding his second in the left corner from an overlap.

O'Driscoll, reunited with his 2009 Test partner Roberts, got in on the scoring act in the 49th minute, the impressive Maitland delivering the final pass.

Halfpenny, who came on for North with Maitland moving to the wing, finished off the Lions' eighth try and flanker O'Brien – who had earlier been denied by the TMO after stepping into touch – barged over for the ninth.

Dale Ah Wang almost got the Combined XV on the board but failed to stretch far enough to get the ball down and then was pulled back for an earlier knock-on when the TMO was asked to take a look.

Another of the replacements, Davies, completed the scoring in the final minute to take the Lions' try tally into double figures.

Combined Country: Nathan Trist; Alex Gibbon, Lewie Catt, Tareta-Junior Siakisini, Tom Cox, Angus Roberts, Michael Snowden; Haydn Hirsimaki, Josh Mann-Rae, Tim Metcher, Phoenix Battye, Blake Enever, Richard Stanford, Jarrad Butler, Tim Davidson (capt).

Replacements: Tom Kearney (for Mann-Rae, 61), Dylan Evans (for Hirsimaki, 53), Rikki Abraham (for Metcher, 68), Rory Arnold (for Battye, 72), Trent Dyer (for Battye, 50), Adam McCormack (for Snowden, 72), Shaun McCarthy (for Cox, 57), Dale Ah Wang (for Catt, 62).

Lions: Sean Maitland, Alex Cuthbert, Brian O'Driscoll, 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 (for Hibbard, 50), Ryan Grant (for Corbisiero, 50), Matt Stevens (for Cole, 50), Alun Wyn Jones (for Gray, 41), Toby Faletau (for Heaslip, 54), Mike Phillips (for Murray, 70), Jonathan Davies (for Roberts, 55), Leigh Halfpenny (for North, 41).

Referee: Steve Walsh (ARU)

Attendance: 20,071