South African flyer scores hat-trick in B&I Lions rout
MATCH REPORT: The British and Irish Lions fired off another warning to the Springboks, as they dismissed the Sharks with consummate ease.
Outscoring the Durban-based team by eight tries to one, they won 54-7 in a game played at Ellis Park amidst
The win included two hat-trick – one by South African-born flyer Duhan van der Merwe and the other by Welsh fullback Josh Adams.
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The South African franchise lacked nine stars on Springbok duty and, after trailing 0-26 at half-time, collapsed in the closing stages to allow the tourists several soft scores.
Lions coach Warren Gatland expressed concern about the strength of pre-Test opposition after a 42-point demolition of the Johannesburg-based Lions last Saturday.
The Sharks, who were expected to be tougher opponents despite a depleted team, proved even weaker and the visitors scored at will in the closing stages behind closed doors because of the COVID-19.
The match kicked off at the end of a dramatic day in which all the B&I Lions had to have unscheduled COVID-19 tests after one staff member and one player tested positive.
It led to eight late changes – four in the run-on team and four among the replacements with seven forwards and no reserve scrumhalf on the bench.
Quick out of the starting blocks when they crushed the Johannesburg-based Lions last weekend, the Lions repeated the feat against the Sharks, building a 14-point advantage within eight minutes.
The scorer of the first try came as no surprise with fullback Adams striking after three minutes to add to the four he notched last Saturday.
Four minutes later, the visitors struck again with South Africa-born Van der Merwe, the leading 2021 Six Nations championship try scorer, crossing the line.
The Sharks were good at times, but lacked the clinical finishing of the tourists when the 22-metre line came in sight.
Fullback Manie Libbok wasted the best chance when he failed to catch a pass from wing Werner Kok, who burst deep into Lions’ territory.
Former national Sevens team star Kok did his team no favours when he committed a ‘professional’ foul midway through the half and was sin-binned.
Surprisingly, the Lions added only five points with a numerical advantage, as Van der Merwe pounced on a superb grubber kick from flyhalf Owen Farrell to score.
Bundee Aki, the New Zealand-born Ireland centre, resembled a tight-five forward as he barged over for a fourth Lions try just before half-time.
Farrell slotted three conversions and his failure to add the extra points to the third try was his first miss at goal on tour after 10 successes.
After the Sharks finally got on the scoreboard with a try by flank James Venter – that flyhalf Curwin Bosch converted – normal service was resumed with two converted Lions tries that gave them a 40-7 lead.
Adams got the first and wing Louis Rees-Zammit the second, to ensure that the tourists would maintain a perfect record on tour, albeit against weak franchise opposition.
The longer the second half continued, the easier the Lions found it to score and Van der Merwe and Adams helped themselves to their third tries.
Replacement Finn Russell kicked four second-half conversions.
Man of the match: It really was one-way traffic, with the exception of a short period in the second half. South African-born flyer Duhan van der Merwe and Welsh fullback Josh Adams put their hands up with a hat-trick each. Our award goes to B&I Lions flyhalf Owen Farrell, who dominated the game in his stay and gave the selectors food for thought about the No.10 jersey in the Tests.
Moment of the match: The British and Irish Lions scored eight tries and most of them were very entertaining. The Sharks scored one and for a brief period, in the lead-up to the James Venter try, the South African team showed a glimpse of what they are capable of.
Villain: No villains, not even the cynical foul by Werner Kok – a desperate moment by a player in a hopelessly outclassed team.
For the Sharks
For the British and Irish Lions
Tries: Adams 3, Van der Merwe 3, Aki, Rees-Zammit
Cons: Farrell 3, Russell 4
Yellow card: Werner Kok (Sharks, 19 – cynical foul, killing the ball in the tackle)
Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Reniel Hugo, 21 Dylan Richardson, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Anthony Volmink.
British and Irish Lions: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Iain Henderson (captain), 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Hamish Watson, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Taulupe Faletau.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)