Lions rout Country, France beat Blues

TEST PREPARATION::The British and Irish Lions beat a team predominantly of Aussie amateurs 64-0 and France defeated the Blues 38-15 ahead of their respective Tests

AP, NEWCASTLE, Australia

Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - Page 20

Winger George North crossed for two first-half tries as the British and Irish Lions continued to build momentum for the Test series against Australia with a 64-0 win over an invitational Combined Country team last night, increasing their scoring haul to 214 points in four games so far.

Irish veteran Brian O’Driscoll, leading the midweek lineup, scored a try and set up Leigh Halfpenny for the last of the Lions’ 10 tries with a perfectly-placed grubber kick after the fulltime siren.

The Lions have opened their 10-match tour with some lopsided wins, including 59-8 against the Barbarians in Hong Kong, 69-17 against the Western Force and 22-12 against 2011 Super Rugby champions the Queensland Reds.

The match against Country was no different, with the Lions crossing for six first-half tries and leading 38-0 at the break against a team of predominantly amateur players who qualified for selection by being born in regional areas of four Australian provinces.

Seeking their first series win since the 1997 tour to South Africa, the Lions play the first of three Tests against Australia on June 22 and are still building their combinations.

“We didn’t know what to expect ... they certainly gave it a full 80 and tested us at times,” O’Driscoll said. “We kept it to zero — we put a lot of emphasis on defense, so that was good. The team is going to grow with games, we’re going to try new things ... the more games we play together, the more chance we’ve got to gel.”

The Lions head to Sydney today to prepare for a weekend match against the New South Wales Waratahs and then play the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Tuesday next week.

O’Driscoll, playing in his fourth Lions tour after making his debut in Australia in 2001, has twice led the combined team from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland to wins in the last week. Sam Warburton, the Lions tour captain, played his first match of the tour in the win over the Reds last weekend and is expected to feature against the Waratahs on Saturday.


AP, AUCKLAND, New Zealand

Fiji-born winger Noa Nakaitaci scored two tries within two minutes in the second half as France overran the Blues Super Rugby team 38-15 yesterday in a tour match that bridged their first and second Tests against New Zealand.

Right winger Nakaitaci, who plays for Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14, touched down in the 50th and 52nd minutes to allow France to run away with the match against the Auckland-based Blues after leading 12-3 at halftime.

Center Gael Fickou and replacement hooker Benjamin Kayser also scored second-half tries, while scrumhalf Jean-Marc Doussain kicked three conversions and four penalties for 18 points as France revived after their 23-13 first Test loss to New Zealand on Saturday.