Alun Wyn Jones injury mars B&I Lions' win over Japan
MATCH REPORT: The British and Irish Lions beat Japan 28-10 at Murrayfield on Saturday in the curtain-raiser to their tour of South Africa but victory was overshadowed by captain Alun Wyn Jones’ injury.
The match in Edinburgh, the Lions’ first game in Scotland and against the Brave Blossoms, was barely eight minutes old when Jones went off clutching his wrist after being cleared out of a ruck.
After the match, British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland confirmed that Jones has been ruled out of the team’s tour to South Africa with a dislocated shoulder.
Jones’s place in the second row was taken by England’s Courtney Lawes.
The world’s most-capped Rugby Union international, Jones has started the last nine Tests for the Lions.
Wales hooker Ken Owens took over captaincy duties on the pitch but England’s Owen Farrell or Maro Itoje could be named as tour skipper if Jones is out for several weeks.
There were more injury worries for the Lions when flank Justin Tipuric went off to be replaced by Wales teammate Taulupe Faletau.
It was another back-row blow for Lions coach Warren Gatland, with Hamish Watson having suffered a concussion in training.
On the pitch, the Lions ran in four tries to their opponents’ one in what was Japan’s first international since losing to eventual winners South Africa in the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
Wings Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe both crossed before Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Beirne went over, with all tries converted by Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar.
Shortly after Jones left the field, the Lions went ahead when Adams marked his Lions debut with a 12th-minute try.
Ireland centre Bundee Aki surged through the Japan defence, with Adams darting out and then in to score as he stretched over in the right corner.
Biggar, bidding for the Lions’ No.10 Test shirt added the difficult touchline conversion, and the combined side led 7-0.
They extended their lead in the 18th minute when van der Merwe joined Adams in scoring a debut try.
The South Africa-born flyer collected the ball from the back of a ruck and went in unopposed on the blindside
For all their injury worries, the Lions, in front of a Covid-reduced crowd of 16,500, added a third try when Henshaw powered through a fragile defence, with his side 21-0 ahead at half-time.
Lawes had a try disallowed for losing possession when grounding the ball over the tryline.
But Beirne then became the third Lions debutant this match to mark the occasion with a try, the Munster loose forward running a good line at pace from Biggar’s pass to sprint clear in the 49th minute.
Japan eventually got on the scoreboard just shy of the hour mark when replacement Kazuki Himeno was driven over for a try from the back of a line-out before Yu Tamura’s penalty took the Brave Blossoms into double figures.
Man of the match: The award goes to B&I Lions flyhalf Dan Biggar, who controlled things nicely on the field. He also had a hand in one of his team’s tries.
For B&I Lions:
Tries: Adams, Van der Merwe, Henshaw, Beirne
Cons: Biggar 4
British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Ali Price, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Anthony Watson.
Japan: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Siosaia Fifita, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Amanaki Lelei Mafi, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Michael Leitch (captain), 5 James Moore, 4 Wimpie van der Walt, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Kosuke Horikoshi, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Asaeli Ai Valu, 19 Jack Cornelsen, 20 Kazuki Himeno, 21 Tevita Tatafu, 22 Naoto Saito, 23 Rikiya Matsuda.
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère
Assistant referees: Pierre Brousset, Ludovic Cayre
TMO: Eric Gauzins