The British and Irish Lions have put in an impressive display, scoring nine tries to defeat the Western Force 69-17, in the opening match of the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour in Perth tonight in front of a vocal crowd of 35,103.
The Lions were on the board early with a penalty goal to Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny after just two minutes.
After 11 minutes Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton, then dummied and shimmied through the Force defence after a sustained period attack to score the 2013 Lion’s first try on Australian soil. Halfpenny converted to put the Lions out 10-0.
Some spirited attack and strong defence saw the Force dominate the next twenty minutes giving up many kickable penalty shots. In the end captain Matt Hodgson pointed to the post with Brett Sheehan making no mistake to bring the score back to 10-3 on the 30-minute mark.
But the Lions hit back straight away with veteran captain Brian O’Driscoll showing a spritely turn of speed to outpace the Force defence and touch down in the left corner. Halfpenny added a magnificent conversion from the corner confirming he’d brought his kicking boots on tour.
Lanky English flanker Tom Croft crossed for another try wide out after the siren, which Halfpenny again converted, to give the Lions a commanding 27-3 half time lead.
The only disappointing moment for the Lions in the first half was a serious looking injury to Irish prop Cian Healy which saw him stretchered from the field.
The best of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales continued where they left off straight after half time with Irish No.8 Jamie Heaslip finishing off a try he initiated himself with a surging break from half way. Halfpenny was again accurate with the conversion.
The Force then broke through with a try to No.8 Richard Brown in the 43rd minute, which was converted by Sheehan.
But the Lions hit back immediately with fast ball movement resulting in English prop Mako Vunipola, who was on for Healy, crashing over in the right hand corner. Halfpenny was again successful with the extras, making it seven from seven on the night.
Force centre Ed Stubbs was shown a yellow card in the 58th minute for slowing the ball down and the Lions immediately made their numerical advantage count with Irish winger Tommy Bowe scoring in the right hand corner. Again Halfpenny was immaculate with the conversion.
Replacement Lachlan McCaffrey forced his way over for the hosts in the 63rd minute to bring it back to 48-17, with Sheehan landing the conversion.
But as they had done all night, the Lions struck back instantly with wrecking ball English centre Manu Tuialgi breaking through before feeding a neat inside to captain O’Driscoll who went under the posts to score his second.
Replacement flyhalf Owen Farrell scored a minute later with Halfpenny landing both conversions from straight in front.
Giant Welsh lock Alun Wyn-Jones got an early mark on 71 minutes, yellow carded for slowing the ball down.
But it didn’t slow down the Lions with Sean O’Brien completing an excellent game by setting up replacement English lock Geoff Parling for a try. Halfpenny completed a perfect night with his ninth conversion for a haul of 24 points.
The Lions now move on to Brisbane where they play the Queensland Reds, and Quade Cooper, on Saturday night.
DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour
FULL TIME SCORE
British and Irish Lions 69 (Brian O’Driscoll 2, Jamie Heaslip, Tom Croft, Jonny Sexton, Mako Vunipola, Tommy Bowe, Owen Farrell, Geoff Parling tries; Leigh Halfpenny 9 conversions, 2 penalty goals) defeated Western Force 17 (Lachlan McCaffrey, Richard Brown tries; Brett Sheehan penalty goal, 2 conversions) at Patersons Stadium, Perth. (Half Time: Lions 27-3) (Crowd: 35,103)