Josh Adams scored four times as the British and Irish Lions began their 2021 tour of South Africa in positive fashion, registering a dominant 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions in Johannesburg.
The tourists notched eight tries in total, as debutants Louis Rees-Zammit and Hamish Watson scored early, before Ali Price, Adams (four) and Gareth Davies added further scores.
Owen Farrell, playing at inside-centre, also notched all eight conversions in the win at Ellis Park, while prop Wyn Jones had a further try ruled out after a TMO review.
Warren Gatland’s side next face the Cell C Sharks on Wednesday, again at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event.
The tourists took less than four minutes to register the opening try of the contest as wing Rees-Zammit raced in after centre Chris Harris’ clever chip kick ahead.
In doing so, Rees-Zammit, at 20 years and 240 days, became the youngest Lions try-scorer since Keith Jarrett against North East Cape at Cradock in 1968.
Finn Russell had orchestrated the early proceedings well from fly-half, and less than three minutes after the opener there was further reward for the positive start as flanker Watson forced his way over for a try under the sticks.
At 14-0 behind, the Sigma Lions were in desperate need of a response, and after a sequence of penalties against the tourists at the set-piece and for failing to roll away, the hosts had prime field position. They could not take advantage of it, however, despite several phases within the 22, as the Sigma Lions were eventually penalised for obstruction.
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In the 33rd minute, the British and Irish Lions had their third try through scrum-half Price as a lineout set-piece move worked to perfection to expose the holes in the hosts’ disjointed defence: Jamie George threw deep for Farrell to pass out behind for Price to break through on an arcing run.
The Sigma Lions responded on the scoreboard within two minutes, though, as a Farrell missed tackle saw Francke Horn romp down the wing, before fellow back-row Vincent Tshituka finished strongly.
The visitors looked to have had the final say of the half, as Welsh prop Jones dived over in the final minute of the half but was denied a score after a TMO review due to a neck-roll at the ruck by Courtney Lawes.
Within 50 seconds of the second half, the British and Irish Lions did have their fourth score as Adams raced past the flailing tackles of three Sigma Lions players after another successful move off a set-piece.
The hosts replied with their second try moments later as wing Rabz Maxwane ran over untouched after another incisive break from No 8 Horn.
George should have scored for the tourists in the next major chance of the game, but spilled the ball with the line at his mercy, before blindside Sibusiso Sangweni sprinted clear for the Sigma Lions and was only stopped because of an outstanding try-saving tackle from Stuart Hogg.
In the 55th minute, Adams had his second of the game after taking a superb Russell kick-pass in space, after the visitors had stressed the Sigma Lions defence through the middle.
Replacement scrum-half Davies added the next try after nice work with ball in hand from Elliot Daly, before Adams completed his hat-trick with a sprint down the left after a clever Jonny Hill offload.
Four minutes after his third score, Adams touched down for his fourth as he was handed another simple finish unopposed, dotting down after collecting Daly’s long pass out wide.
The tourists almost notched a further try which would have taken their total beyond 60 on the scoreboard, but replacement hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie was stopped just short after a powerful rolling maul had made inroads.
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