- Five-try display lays down marker for Brisbane Test
- Leigh Halfpenny turns out 30-point performance
Photo: Getty Images
The British and Irish Lions maintained their momentum towards first Test with an emphatic 47-17 victory over the New South Wales Waratahs.
This was a competitive and hard-fought game but ultimately the Lions had too much power up front and class with ball-in-hand at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Leigh Halfpenny was again outstanding for the Lions, scoring two of the five tries and kicking all his eight goals, although there are still some defensive issues to be ironed out ahead of Brisbane next Saturday.
As they have so often on this tour, the Lions made a blistering start, racing 10-0 ahead after just six minutes – and it could have been even more.
Wing Simon Zebo thought he had scored with his first touch of the ball in a Lions shirt after 40 seconds, but Waratahs full-back Drew Mitchell made a superb try-saving tackle in the corner, confirmed by the TMO.
Leigh Halfpenny kicked a 50-metre penalty three minutes later, before superb approach work from the Wales full-back, Zebo and centre Jonathan Davies created an opening for Jonathan Sexton which he finished emphatically.
Halfpenny landed the touchline conversion, but Sexton then took a huge tackle from Waratahs lock Will Skelton, and as he was receiving treatment the Lions conceded a soft try– Tom Carter being freed in space and capitalising on some weak defensive work.
Photo: Getty Images
Ross McKibbin added the extras from wide out before before another couple of Halfpenny penalties stretched the lead again.
The half finished on a high for the tourists as really powerful work from the Lions forwards inside the Waratahs' 22 was followed by good hands from Alun Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell, before the ball was spun out wide for Halfpenny to dive in at the corner. He then converted from the touchline for a 23-10 half-time lead.
The second half started in even more impressive fashion as the Lions created their best try of the tour to date, Sexton getting over the gainline and offloading for Jamie Roberts, who combined with Jonathan Davies before Halfpenny arrived on a superb line and raced in.
But there was sloppiness from the subsequent kick-off and after a five-metre lineout, Carter crashed over from close range for his second try and McKibbin converted.
Halfpenny settled any lingering nerves with yet another successful kick and Tom Croft raced down the touchline like a winger, handing off Tom Kingston and touching down.
Seven Lions changes resulted but by now they were firmly in control and Davies completed a thoroughly satisfying night for the tourists as he trotted in unopposed from Ben Youngs' inside pass.
NSW Waratahs: Drew Mitchell; Cam Crawford, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Peter Betham; Brendan Foley, Brendan McKibbin; Jeremy Tilse, John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan; Will Skelton, Ollie Atkins; Jed Holloway, Pat McCutcheon, Dave Dennis (capt).
Replacements: Luke Holmes, Richard Aho, Sam Talakai, Lopeti Timani, AJ Gilbert, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Tom Kingston.
Lions: Leigh Halfpenny; Sean Maitland, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Simon Zebo; Jonathan Sexton, Mike Phillips; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones; Alun Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell; Tom Croft, Sam Warburton (capt), Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (for Youngs, 59), Alex Corbisiero (for Vunipola, 59) Dan Cole (for Jones, 59), Geoff Parling (for O'Connell, 59), Dan Lydiate (for Croft, 59), Ben Youngs (for Phillips, 59), Owen Farrell (for Sexton, 49), Rob Kearney (for Halfpenny, 59).
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)