Jamie George, Tadhg Beirne and Anthony Watson scored two tries each as the British & Irish Lions kept their unbeaten streak on the Castle Lager Lions Series alive with a 71-31 win over the Sharks in Pretoria, with a red card to the Durbanites’ scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse costing his team dearly.
When Hendrikse was given his marching orders for foul play in the 46th minute, the scores were tied at 26-26 after the Sharks played with a lot more composure than three days ago, using their opportunities and scoring four first-half tries against the tourists.
However, playing with only 14 men against quality international opposition is very tough and the Lions pounced properly, making the KwaZulu-Natalians pay for some lacklustre defence and bad discipline, stepping on the accelerator and scoring seven tries and 45 points after the break.
The tourists were again forced to make two changes before kick-off, with Courtney Lawes replacing Maro Itoje (mild gastric bug) at lock in the starting XV, with Adam Beard called up to the bench, where he was joined by Bundee Aki, who replaced Finn Russell (Achilles).
The Lions were out of the blocks quickly again, with Chris Harris (centre) scoring in the fourth minute, but the Cell C Sharks hit back with quick tries by Anthony Volmink and Thaakir Abrahams putting them in the lead by 12-7.
A flurry of five tries followed in the second quarter, with George (hooker), Duhan van der Merwe (wing) and Beirne (flanker) crossing for the visitors, while Hendrikse and Volmink scored two more for the Cell C Sharks as the teams ended the first half with the score tied on 26-26.
The second half started with the Durbanites trying to up the intensity before Hendrikse got his marching orders six minutes after the break, and then it basically opened up and the Lions almost scored at will.
Jack Conan (No 8), Elliot Daly (centre), Watson (wing) and Tom Curry (flanker) added their names to the score sheet, while George and Beirne crossed for their second tries, with Watson following suit late in the game.
The Cell C Sharks had one or two opportunities, but were held out by good Lions defence, although Werner Kok scored a well-deserved try from a charge down close to the tourists’ try-line.
Cell C Sharks 31 (26) – Tries: Anthony Volmink (2), Thaakir Abrahams, Jaden Hendrikse, Werner Kok. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (3).
British & Irish Lions 71 (26) – Tries: Chris Harris, Jamie George (2), Duhan van der Merwe, Tadhg Beirne (2), Jack Conan, Elliot Daly, Tom Curry, Anthony Watson (2). Conversions: Dan Biggar (8).