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The British & Irish Lions defeated the NSW Waratahs 47-17 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney tonight after a breath taking display of world class Rugby in front of a capacity crowd of 40,805.
The high quality skill and dazzling speed from both teams was only matched by the physicality and commitment and Rugby fans around the world will now be eagerly awaiting the first Test of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour against the Qantas Wallabies in Brisbane next Saturday night.
After the extraordinary match between the Lions and Queensland Reds in Brisbane last Saturday it was difficult to imagine that this game could come close to that in skill and intensity, but for large sections it was even better.
The match started at a cracking pace with the Lions almost over in the first minute with a clever pass from Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton putting Welsh centre Jonathan Davies down the left hand touchline. Davies then sent Irish winger Simon Zebo sprinting for the corner but the debutant’s foot was just pushed into touch from a heroic try saving tackle from Waratahs fullback Drew Mitchell.
However the Lions were on the board on five minutes with Welsh goal-kicking wizard Leigh Halfpenny landing a pin point penalty from the half way line to make it 3-0 to the visitors.
The same quartet who were involved in the near miss in the opening minute were involved just a minute later when Mitchell launched a clearing kick down field. Zebo counter attacked before finding Davies who put Sexton on an untouched run to the line, scoring a few metres in from where Zebo had been bundled into touch five minutes earlier.
Halfpenny was successful with a superb conversion from wide out and the Lions led 10-0 after seven minutes.
But then sensationally the Tahs hit back. NSW flyhalf Bernard Foley chanced his arm with a cross field kick in his own 22. With Sexton down receiving treatment after a big hit from giant NSW lock Will Skelton, Tahs winger Peter Betham was able to collect the ball, beat one Lions defender and pass inside to veteran centre Tom Carter who raced over to score out wide. NSW scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin was successful with the conversion from the touchline and NSW were back to 7-10
Halfpenny added another penalty to make it 13-7 but Skelton nearly put the Tahs in front when he gathered the ball from a line out throw five metres out and barged over, just losing the ball in the process.
Another superb penalty from the boot of Halfpenny made it 16-7 before McKibbin brought it back to 16-10 with a well taken penalty of his own.
Moments later a stunning flick pass from Mitchell put winger Cam Crawford away but a turnover from English flanker Tom Croft saved the Lions just when it looked like NSW would cross again.
And it was the Lions who finished the first half on top after a clever chip from Sexton just outside his 22 was regathered by Davies. The Lions poured onto the attack and eventually the ball came wide to Halfpenny to dot down. He converted his own try to put the Lions out 23-10 after a thrilling first half. Both teams were greeted by a standing ovation from the capacity crowd as they left the field.
The second half started off just as the first had ended with first the Lions crossing for a brilliant score after swift interchange between Sexton, Welsh centre Jamie Roberts and Davies saw Halfpenny go over for his second try. Once again the fullback converted from near the touchline to make it 30-10.
But then the Tahs hit back immediately with Skelton grabbing a lineout five metres out before feeding Carter who crashed over for his second try of the night. McKibbin again converted and NSW trailed 30-17.
But again the Lions hit back with Halfpenny adding another penalty before Croft scored a superb solo try, palming off NSW replacement Tom Kingston before charging 30 metres down the left hand touchline to score. Halfpenny converted to make it Lion 40 NSW 17 and take his own personal tally to 30 points, setting a new record for the most points scored by a Lion in a match in Australia.
Davies closed out the scoring with a try himself, converted by young English flyhalf Owen Farrell, who was on for Sexton.
The Lions now move on to Canberra where they face the table topping Brumbies in Canberra on Tuesday night in what should be another mouth watering clash. Some tickets for the match are still available. To get your tickets for the return of Shane Williams CLICK HERE
DHL AUSTRALIA 2013 LIONS TOUR
FULL TIME SCORE
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS 47 (Jonny Sexton, Leigh Halfpenny 2, Tom Croft, Jonathan Davies tries; Halfpenny 4 conversions, 4 penalty goals; Owen Farrell conversion) defeated NSW WARATAHS 17 (Tom Carter 2 tries; Brendan McKibbin 2 conversions, penalty goal) at ALLIANZ STADIUM, SYDNEY. (HALFTIME: LIONS 23 – NSW 10, Crowd: 40,805, REFEREE: Jaco Peyper – South Africa)