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British & Irish Lions keep Melbourne Rebels scoreless

Manu Tuilagi

Despite an average performance, The British & Irish Lions have won their last midweek game on tour beating the Melbourne Rebels 35-0 at AAMI Park.

After last week’s defeat to the Brumbies and with most of the starting XV looking to make their way into the Test side, the Lions showed ambitions attacking from deep and offloading in tackle putting the Rebels on the back foot for most of the game.

The accuracy wasn’t always there and the lineout was far from perfect but the likes of Dan Lydiate, Ian Evans, Sean O’Brien, Manu Tuilagi and Ryan Grant have put their hands up for a Test spot.

Despite an error prone first-half the tourists went over twice to be in control while three further tries in the second half sealed the deal.

But the most important thing for Warren Gatland will be the intensity in defence at the breakdown which kept the Super Rugby side scoreless.

The Lions scrum had the upper hand from the kick-off and the tourists used it to set up the first try of the game.

Five metres out from the Rebels’ line, No.8 Toby Faletau was held just short but as the ball popped out, scrum-half Connor Murray picked it up and barged his way over to take a 7-0 lead.

Unlike the first try, the second came from deep into the Lions half as the returning Manu Tuilagi broke through on the left flank.

The England centre offloaded to Sean Maitland who then found Faletau on his shoulder but he Welsh No.8 slipped with the try line looming. The support was there though and the ball was recycled and shifted to the wing where Simon Zebo set up Maitland who dived untouched in the corner.

Despite being on the front foot, the Lions couldn’t score again in the first half and the second started with missed opportunities again but from a clever lineout move, Lydiate flicked the ball to O’Brien for another try in the corner.

It didn’t bother Owen Farrell who kicked his third conversion before being replaced by Stuart Hogg.

The Lions’ fourth try came from a well-worked catch and drive and referee Glen Jackson going under the posts for a penalty try.

Ben Youngs was introduced to the game and soon after he dived under the post following a trademark run from the back of the lineout to end the game on a high.

For British & Irish Lions

Tries: Murray, Maitland, O’Brien, penalty, Youngs

Conversions: Farrell 3, Hogg 2

British & Irish Lions: Rob Kearney, Sean Maitland, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Simon Zebo, Owen Farrell, Conor Murray; Ryan Grant, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole, Richie Gray, Ian Evans; Dan Lydiate (Capt.), Sean O’Brien, Toby Faletau

Replacements: Rory Best, Tom Court, Matt Stevens, Tom Croft, Justin Tipuric, Ben Youngs, Billy Twelvetrees, Stuart Hogg.

Melbourne Rebels: Jason Woodward ; Tom English, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Lachlan Mitchell; Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess; Nic Henderson, Ged Robinson, Laurie Weeks; Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle; Jarrod Saffy, Scott Fuglistaller, Gareth Delve (Capt.).

Replacements: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Luke Jones, Jordy Reid, Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts, Cooper Vuna.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

NICK VERDIER

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