What a difference a week makes! The Lions lost their captain and openside flanker Sam Warburton. Then Dropped Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll and replaced him with the giant Jamie Roberts. The Wallabies made one unforced change bringing in the legendary George Smith. While Liam Gill was the unlucky guy who made way for him.
The Wallabies looked nervous from the kick off. Kane Douglas decided to leave the ball and forced Will Genia to attempt a very difficult take, which he spilled. From the resulting scrum referee Roman Poite awarded the Lions a free kick for an early engage. The Lions took a quick tap and after a dozen phases Alex Corbisiero crashed over for his first Test try. Leigh Halfpenny slotted the conversion and the tourists led 7-0. Moments later Joe Tomane was caught in a tackle not releasing and the Lions stretched their lead to 10-0.
The Lions dominated the Wallabies forwards winning penalty after penalty. Especially in the scrum. The Wallabies were able to kick one three-pointer but most of the traffic on the scoreboard, was from the Lions as they stretched their lead to 19-3. Along the way the Wallabies had Ben Alexander sinbinned for repeated infringements in the scrum and lost Israel Folau to what looked like a hamstring injury.
Just before half time the Wallabies were able to score as flyhalf James O’Connor stepped his way over the line in a piece of individual brilliance. Frankly it was the only time the Wallabies had looked like scoring. The back line has looked completely rudderless for the entire first half and the forwards were nowhere near parity. The Wallabies still had a hope at half time with the scoreline at 10-19 but the Lions dressing room would have been quietly confident during the break.
The Australians had the better of the first few minutes of the second half. They kicked two penalties for ruck infringements in the first five minutes closing the gap to 16-19. Just when the Wallabies looked to be back in the match their scrum was penalised again. Then Leigh Halfpenny managed to get outside the Wallabies defence and raced into the 22. He then threw a nice inside pass to Jonny Sexton who had a clear run to the posts. Suddenly the score had stretched out to 16-29 and the Wallabies were struggling to stay in the match.
Leigh Halfpenny then topped his already exceptional match by again breaking the Wallabies line and popping another pretty pass to George North who had an uninterrupted passage to the try line. He spoiled his perfect game by finally missing a kick but he was still easily my man of the match. The Lions had complete control of the game at this stage. And they proved it by drawing James O’Connor into no man’s land off the back of an attacking ruck. Conor Murray used the space O’Connor left to put Jaime Roberts through a massive hole. With a full head of steam inside the Wallabies 22 there was no stopping him. The scoreline climbed into the forties with the conversion and the lions had the game in the bag with more than 10 minutes to go.
The Lions really enjoyed the last ten minutes, even trying a 13 man lineout near the death. The Wallabies had no answer to their size and power for the first 70 minutes, and it didn’t change here. The 16-41 score was a fair reflection of the four tries to one flogging it was.
The Game Changer
The kick off! The Wallabies struggled to keep up from the opening seconds and fell away completely in the second half. The Wallabies game plan seemed to be built on forward parity and they never came close to achieving this. This in turn put the lack of a backline General under the spot light and no one turned up to fill the position.
The G&GR MOTM
There is no question here for me. Leigh Halfpenny was barely out of position all night. Threw the last pass for two tries and kicked eight from nine. He is Green and Gold Rugby’s Man of the Match.
No one! No one stood out. No one covered themselves in glory. No one deserves a mention. Really! No one!
Score & Scorers
Tries: James O’Connor
Conversions: Leali’ifano 1
Penalties: Leali’ifano 3 British & Irish Lions: 41
Tries: Alex Corbisiero, Jonny Sexton, George North, Jaime Roberts.
Conversions: Halfpenny 3
Penalties: Halfpenny 5
Cards & citings
Ben Alexander – Yellow