In the final midweek game for the Lions, they took on and beat the Melbourne Rebels 35-0 at AAMI Park on Tuesday evening. So soon after the first Test success in Brisbane, this was a chance for those on the outskirts to push for Test selection.
Eager to impress coach Warren Gatland in their last non-test tour match, the midweek Lions ran in four tries and were awarded fifth by penalty as they completely outclassed the Super Rugby strugglers.
England centre Manu Tuilagi celebrated his return to action after a niggling shoulder injury by contributing to the first two tries for the Lions for half-back Conor Murray and winger Sean Maitland.
Openside flanker Sean O’Brien and replacement half-back Ben Youngs crossed over after the break as the Dan Lydiate-captained Lions dominated on all fronts.
The tourists suffered a shock loss to a well-drilled Brumbies line-up last week, with their set pieces a mess and well beaten at the breakdown, but their forwards made amends against the Rebels, setting up scoring chances with sharp work at the line-out.
“We tried to play with some good tempo, we tried to up the tempo of the game and control that and I thought we did,” Lions fly half Owen Farrell told Grandstand.
The Rebels, captained by former Wales back rower Gareth Delve and marshalled by former Wallabies half-back Luke Burgess, pressed hard but were let down by poor finishing.
Although dictating proceedings, the Lions ‘dirt-trackers’ made a hash of a few scoring chances, and O’Brien was left fuming a few minutes after half-time when a long looping pass from Maitland sailed into touch to deny the Irishman a certain try.
O’Brien was all smiles a few minutes later, though, when he dived over to score in the opposite corner after lock Richie Gray and Lydiate had combined well from the line-out.
The Rebels conceded a penalty try some 10 minutes later, with replacement flanker Jordy Reid sent off for illegally stopping a rolling maul.
Youngs completed the rout by sharking the ball at the back of a line-out and beating two defenders to cross between the posts and hand the Lions momentum heading into Saturday’s second Test against the Wallabies.
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Credit: ttrugbyvids & reuters