Mike Phillips and Alex Cuthbert scored twice as the Lions got their 2013 tour off to a strong start, beating the Barbarians 59-8 in hot and humid Hong Kong earlier today. They scored eight tries in total as a star studded Barbarians outfit failed to fire.
Regular waterbreaks had to be empoyed as vicious heat and humidity threatened to affect the rhythm of the match. In many ways it did, but a strong second half by the Lions will have given them a good boost ahead of the trip to Australia.
They face the Western Force on Wednesday, cellar dwellers in Super Rugby but an entirely different proposition to the Barbarians side, who despite all their talent, just didn’t seem up for it.
Not taking anything away from the Lions – they finished well and their patterns of play were starting to take shape, with Phillips, Jamie Roberts and Justin Tipuric in particular standing out.
Captain Paul O’Connell was strong up front, scoring the opening try of the game after 28 minutes, while flyhalf Owen Farrell perhaps didn’t do himself any favours with a fairly mediocre performance.
He was involved in an altercation with Saracens teammate Schalk Brits early on, the South African uncharacteristically lashing out, and lucky to be only yellow carded by referee Steve Walsh.
The ten minutes off didn’t help the Baa-Baas cause, and veteran Joe Rokocoko seemed to be one of the few looking to spark things with ball in hand. He rolled back the years to show regular touches of class, as well as making one outstanding try saving tackle in particular.
In the end it was all about the Lions though, as eight tries later they were emphatic winners, and it was great to see the urgency of those that joined the game from the bench. Test spots are going to be hard to come by in this squad, so every minute on the park counts.
It’ll be interesting to see who Warren Gatland and co select for the Force match, as the powerful Queensland Reds will be waiting just three days later.
What are you initial thoughts on the Lions’ performance?