British & Irish Lions 59-8 Barbarians, Hong Kong, June 1
Lions sweep Barbarians aside
June 1, 2013
Date/Time: Jun 1, 2013, 19:35 local, 11:35 GMT
Venue: So Kon Po Stadium, Hong Kong
British and Irish Lions 59 - 8 Barbarians
Half-time: 23 - 3
Tries: Cuthbert 2, Davies, AW Jones, Lydiate, O'Connell, Phillips 2
Cons: Farrell 3, Sexton 2
Pens: Farrell 3
Tries: Fotuali'i
Pens: Daly
The Lions' Mike Phillips muscles his way over for a try, British & Irish Lions v Barbarians, Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong, June 1, 2013
Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips muscles his way over for a try on his way to the Man of the Match performance
© Getty Images

The British & Irish Lions made an impressive start to their latest tour with a 59-8 victory over the Barbarians in Hong Kong.

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins

  • Man of the Match: Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips picked up the official Man of the Match honour and rightly so after a brilliant display that included two well-taken tries. His industry in energy-sapping conditions was superb and triggered memories of the 2009 Lions tour when he was equally dominant. A Test berth is surely his to lose if he maintains this sort of form.
  • Key Moment: The conditions threatened to dominate proceedings and headlines until Lions captain Paul O'Connell powerered over from close range for the opening try of the game. It was one of many telling contributions by the Irish lock and his team-mates followed suit with seven more tries.
  • Hero of the Game: Lion s scrum-half Mike Phillips and winger Alex Cuthbert are certainly worthy of praise for their contribution to a convincing win, but our nod goes to flanker Justin Tipuric who was a key presence throughout. Lions captain Sam Warburton may not be too far away from full fitness but he may struggle to reclaim the No.7 shirt from his rival if he continues to impress in this manner.
  • Villain of the Game: The game was only a few minutes old when Barbarians hooker Schalk Brits, incensed by Lions fly-half Owen Farrell holding onto him, through a punch at his rival. He escaped with a yellow card but any other day he would have been done for the day with referee Steve Walsh declaring, "because of the match he gets a yellow". He's a better player than that.
  • Talking Point: Lions fly-half Owen Farrell's temperament is set to be called into question once again after his altercation with Barbarians hooker and Saracens club-mate Schalk Brits. Farrell invited trouble by holding onto Brits at a ruck and was lucky he didn't join his rival in the sin-bin having thrown his own punch - albeit half-hearted. The Wallabies will no doubt have noted how short his fuse still appears to be.
  • Play of the Game: The Lions went agonisingly close to scoring one of their best ever tries in the second half with a sweeping move that will not have escaped any of their future rivals. The tourists pounced for a turnover on halfway before the ball was worked through the hands of fullback Stuart Hogg, winger Alex Cuthbert, centre Jamie Roberts and then No.8 Toby Faletau. Flanker Justin Tipuric then took charge and fed the ball to winger Sean Maitland before demanding a kick ahead that he collected before feeding the ball to fly-half Owen Farrell. Tipuric called for the return pass that would have surely resulted in a try had a Barbarians hand not go in the way.

Wales star Mike Phillips inspired the Lions to a comprehensive victory at a hot and humid Hong Kong Stadium. Stamina-sapping conditions proved the real winner, though, as humidity levels touched 94%, contributing greatly to both sides struggling for sustained passages of error-free rugby.

Scrum-half Phillips, the Lions' most consistent performer, scored two tries, while wing Alex Cuthbert also claimed a double and there were further touchdowns for skipper Paul O'Connell, centre Jonathan Davies, flanker Dan Lydiate and substitute Alun-Wyn Jones.

Fly-half Owen Farrell kicked 15 points, but he had a mixed bag of a game elsewhere, making some poor decisions, with one handling blunder leading directly to a Barbarians try. His replacement Jonathan Sexton added two conversions.

Northampton-bound Samoa international Kahn Fotuali'i touched down for the Barbarians, and there was also a penalty by Wasps centre Elliot Daly, but they were again crushed following a drubbing by England in last Sunday's encounter at Twickenham.

The Lions, who struggled to win their first tour match in South Africa four years ago, now head to Australia tomorrow, where far greater challenges await, including three Tests against the Wallabies.

They are on the trail of a first Test series triumph since 1997, and by the time things are up and running Down Under, their Hong Kong excursion will be remembered as little more than the equivalent of a pre-season friendly.

Phillips apart, there were some noticable individual contributions by Wales back-row forwards Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau, while Scotland pair Richie Gray and Stuart Hogg had their moments. But with a crowd of just under 29,000 - more than 11,000 short of capacity - struggling to become enthralled by the action, it was a case of job done for the Lions, yet nothing more.

Despite the game's low-key nature, it exploded into life after just eight minutes following an early Farrell penalty strike. England No.10 Farrell was again in the mix, but this time on the receiving end of a punch by his Saracens team-mate and Barbarians hooker Schalk Brits.

Referee Steve Walsh initially penalised the Lions after Farrell reacted, but he reversed it on scrutiny of video replays, and Brits was yellow-carded, although fortunate to escape red.

Farrell then missed a penalty while Brits spent time in the cooler, and the game had a low-key feel despite the Lions looking to attack with pace and width. Daly hauled the Barbarians level through a long-range penalty strike - a prelude to a mid-half water break - before Brits returned.

The Lions moved up a gear during the second quarter, and a sharp break by Phillips almost produced a try before O'Connell dived between a pile of bodies to touch down. Farrell converted for a 13-3 advantage, and Phillips then sniped his way from 20 metres out, with Farrell again converting.

The Lions were well ahead on the scoreboard without dazzling the crowd or their opponents, but with a powerful bench in reserve, there was considerable potential for a second-half onslaught. Phillips struck again with four minutes of the restart, easing away from a lineout to cross unopposed, before Farrell landed his sixth successful kick.

The Barbarians were now in damage-limitation mode, especially as the Lions had started to monopolise possession, and Tipuric was stopped just short by a Joe Rokocoko tackle.

Farrell then tried to find a support runner with a one-handed pass, when he could have scored had he gone it alone, but the Baa-baas were hanging on as hooker Tom Youngs, plus props Cian Healy and Matt Stevens, arrived off the bench.

Rokocoko showed his class in attack by shredding the Lions' defence, and Fotuali'i had a simple task of finishing off his exquisite approach work, although there was no danger of a sustained Barbarians fightback.

Farrell's poor pass during a Lions attack contributed to the scoring opportunity, and he was replaced shortly afterwards by Sexton, who quickly got in on the act by converting a breakaway try from Davies.

Cuthbert, Wales' most prolific try-scorer over the past year, then got in on the act with a double in seven minutes, before Lydiate crashed over from close range to take the Lions past 50 points.

Lions Mako Vunipola and Richard Hibbard take a breather © PA Photos
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