Lions dirt-trackers show plenty of fight against Rebels
Sean O’Brien one of the standout performers in final midweek game of Lions tour of Australia
He ought to have scored, instead slipping when attempting to step Bryce Hegarty, but from the recycle Zebo drew two defenders as first receiver and put Maitland over, Farrell again converting.
Although Grant was again exposed in the defensive line when unable to fill a gap, the Lions preserved their 14-0 until halftime. Although they had a promising close-range lineout drive held up by Laurie Weeks almost single-handedly, before other chances went abegging. Maitland’s pass to O’Brien in the clear was forward and Farrell’s clever banana chip with the benefit of advantage just eluded Rob Kearney, who looked in good nick but had a relatively quiet night.
It couldn’t last, and eventually the Lions pierced the blue line ten minutes into the half with a clever shortside move off a line-out, Tom Youngs locating Ian Evans at the front, and Dan Lydiate peeling off the front from Richie Gray’s turn and pass to give O’Brien the try-scoring offload.
The bench was unloaded, with both Rory Best and Tom Court joining the fray, and the policy of eschewing shots at goal by continually opting for the corner was rewarded again when the Lions remorselessly trundled toward the line with Best holding the ball at the back. Whereupon Jordy Reid came in from the side to dislodge the ball from Best that Jackson not only awarded a penalty try but binned Reid as well.
There was one stunning take, counter and one-handed offload by Zebo, and not for the first or last time in the night, the chant of “Zee-bo”, “Zee-bo” amongst a good-humoured 28,658 capacity crowd went up in the night air. A fifth try followed off another attacking line-out on the 22, Best expertly finding Tom Croft at the tail, where Ben Youngs gathered the off the top ball on the run, sold Fuglistaller a dummy, handed off Nic Stirzaker and burst Woodward’s tackle to score by the posts.
Maitland and Zebo combined to deny Woodward a consolation try in the corner by driving him into touch. They were in the mood to keep the ‘nought’ part intact.
Scoring sequence: 16 mins Murray try, Farrell con 0-7; 28 mins Maitland try, Farrell con 0-14; (half-time 0-14); 50 mins O’Brien try, Farrell con 0-21; 63 mins penalty try, Hogg con 0-28; 73 mins Ben Youngs try, Hogg con 0-35.
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: Luke Jones for Robinson (half-time), Cooper Vuna for Inman (52 mins), Jordy Reid for Delve, Nic Stirzaker for Burgess (both 55 mins), Pat Leafa for Robinson, Cruze Ah Nau for Henderson, Paul Alo-Emile for Weeks (all 61 mins), Angus Roberts for Hegarty (72 mins). Sinbinned: Reid (63-73 mins).
British & Irish Lions: Rob Kearney (Leinster/Ireland); Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers/England), Brad Barritt (Saracens/England), Simon Zebo (Munster/Ireland); Owen Farrell (Saracens/England), Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland); Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers/England), Richie Gray (Scotland)), Ian Evans (Ospreys/Wales), Dan Lydiate (Dragons/Wales, capt), Sean O’Brien (Leinster/Ireland), Toby Faletau (Dragons/Wales). Replacements: Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby/England) for Barritt (32-39 mins) and for Kearney (62 mins), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland) for Farrell (52 mins), Rory Best (Ulster/Ireland) for Hibbard, Tom Court (Ulster/Ireland) Grant, Matt Stevens (Saracens/England) for Cole, Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales) for O’Brien (all 55 mins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England) for Murray (64 mins), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England) for Lydiate (66 mins).
Referee: Glenn Jackson (New Zealand).