By Alan Dymock
In a nutshell
LIKE ANY first run out, the Lions took a while to get rolling with smart angles wasted and players not quite understanding each other, but once Warren Gatland’s opening XV starting putting passes to hand in the second-half they were able to burn off the Baabaas with consummate ease.
Six different try-scorers – two of which had braces – tells you that there was danger everywhere. However, the lack of defensive fight after half-time has more to do with who the Lions were playing rather than how good they were. The Baabaas showed a few brief flashes, particularly through Joe Rokococo, whose step on Toby Faletau to set up Kahn Fotuali’i, rolled back the years, but ultimately they were not fit for the intensity of this match. Maybe, just maybe, their booze ban should have kicked in earlier.
Even when things were not clicking in the first-half there were still a few stand-out individual performances. Such a performance came from Mike Phillips. Minutes into the second-half, the abrasive No 9 nailed any hopes of a Baabaas comeback firmly shut with his second try of the match. The ball came cleanly off the top of the lineout after a tapdown by Dan Lydiate and Phillips executed a neat dummy which opened a huge gouge in the Barbarian defence before pointing his way to the try line and leaping over in extravagant style. He followed this up in the second-half by driving his forwards on. He was setting down a marker that he didn’t want to relinquish the jersey he wore with distinction in 2009.
Star Man: Jamie Roberts
The experts at Sky gave Mike Phillips the gong, but it was Jamie Roberts at inside-centre, the 2009 Lions tour Man of the Series, who calmly helped knit everything together. While other players buzzed and chittered round about him he delivered at a steady rate, running sharp lines and using the ball intelligently when taking heavy contact. Composure personified.
Justin Tipuric: While Roberts and Phillips dictated the pace, Tipuric galloped around the pitch like the world’s most faithful hound. A half-break; he was at the heel – nearly squeezing over after a Vunipola pop pass. A half-pitch dart; he was calling for the inside ball. The Lions captain has real competition, but then he already knows that.
Stuart Hogg: The full-back took a full-bore blast from Casey Laulala in the first five minutes, but after that he looked assured and never stopped cutting lines. More than once he put other players in space. Rich potential on the hard grounds Down Under.
Owen Farrell: The fly-half was charged down seven minutes in and after a Schalk Brits haymaker grazed his chin and he retaliated with interest, he seemed shaken. He never really recovered in open play, despite assured kicking from the tee with 15 points. A mixed start from the young Saracen.
The Lions carried 575 metres with the ball compared to 330 metres carried by the Barbarians
The Barbarians made 138 tackles, missing 25, a completion rate of 85%, compared to 75 made by the Lions and seven missed, a completion rate of 91%
Alex Cuthbert carried furthest for the Lions with 112 metres, Mike Phillips was second with 80 metres and Toby Faletau third with 54 metres. For the Barbarians, Joe Rocokoco topped the list with 82 metres carried and full-back Jared Payne followed close behind with 76
The Barbarians Sam Jones was the game’s top tackler with a remarkable 23. Richie Gray and Justin Tipuric were the Lions’ top tacklers with eight apiece
Barbarians: Tries: Fotuali’I Pens: Daly
Lions: Tries: Phillips 2, Cuthbert 2, O’Connell, Davies, Lydiate, Wyn Jones Cons: Farrell 3, Sexton 2 Pens: Farrell 3