Lions show US no mercy in try feast
Classic Lions 56 USA 7
Scorers: Lions: Tries: Blair (8min, 40), Cockle (17), Bowen (24), James (29, 56), Rennie (36), Breeze (60). Conversions: Parks (4), Bowen (4). USA: Try: Palefau (27). Conversion: Serevi.
Scoring sequence (Lions first): 7-0, 14-0, 21-0, 21-7, 28-7 (half-time), 35-7, 42-7, 49-7, 56-7.
Classic Lions: I Balshaw; B Breeze, M Tindall, D James, S Brown; D Parks, J Grindal; T Buckley, J Cockle, C Fortey, C Bentley, M Blair, K Dawson, S Gray, C Wyatt. Replacements: R Jenkins, S Nelson, P Sidoli, D Corkery, C Stewart-Smith, G Bowen, B Rennie, A Jenkins, S Moffat, L Bateman.
USA: M Timoteo; L Tulio (sin-bin: 60-), M Palefau, D Walker, M Harvey; P Holmes (sin-bin; 6-13), D Rowe; T Dees, C Adams, T Nash, H Struckman, M Doubek, W McInroy, J Clark, B Sadgrove. Replacements: B Gifford, M Echezabal, G MUmford, J Gray, R Ball, L Gibson, W Serevi, P Tuilevuka.
Referee: I Ramage (Scotland)
Classic Lions 56
United States 7
If there was any doubt about the Classic Lions’ intentions regarding the World Rugby Classic this year, then they were quickly dispelled in a ruthless eight-try mauling of the United States.
It is six years since the Lions last won the competition, and three years since they have reached the final. If yesterday’s outing was anything to go by, the likes of Iain Balshaw, Mike Tindall, Keiron Dawson, Dafydd James and Dan Parks are not just here to enjoy the scenery.
A squad packed full of internationals, with a couple of World Cup winners thrown in for good measure, completely outclassed an American side that tried hard, but even with a guest appearance from Sevens great Waisale Serevi, just could not compete.
Mark Blair and James bagged two tries apiece, and there were also scores for James Cockle, Gareth Bowen, Brian Rennie, and Ben Breeze. Bowen and Parks each kicked four conversions.
James, the Lions captain, diplomatically suggested afterwards that the Lions had been ‘just a little bit too strong for them [US]’. “We’re quite pleased with that, it was still a little bit scrappy at times, if you want to be critical, but it was a good run out,” he said. “Full credit to the Americans, they didn’t give up,”
Neither did the Lions. They started the game at full speed, raced into the lead through Blair with only eight minutes gone, and kept going until Breeze rounded things off seconds before the final whistle. Sandwiched in between were tries that came from close range (Cockle), from out wide (Bowen), and more often than not through the middle of a rather porous US defence (James).
Dominated in all positions, the US could not even get Mike Harvey, their quick wing, any space to test the Lions defence. Their sole moment of celebration came three minutes before half-time when Mose Timoteo, the full back, intercepted a lax pass from Clive Stewart-Smith, raced clear, and then sent Mike Palefau in under the posts. Serevi’s conversion made the score 28-7 to the Lions.
“It was great to open the legs up. I know a lot of the boys felt a little bit stiff, so it was good to get the cobwebs out, and it was good to get the first game under our belts,” said James, whose side face South Africa on Wednesday.
He added: “We had one [practice] session yesterday, it’s the first run out we’ve had. I’m pretty sure the South Africans will be a different entity.”
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