x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

British & Irish Lions quell Melbourne Rebels to restore order

The powerful but often sloppy visitors scored five unanswered tries to win 35-0 after having lost to Brumbies before.

Rory Sidey of the Rebels is tackled by the Lions' Brad Barritt, centre, in Melbourne, Australia. David Rogers / Getty Images
Rory Sidey of the Rebels is tackled by the Lions' Brad Barritt, centre, in Melbourne, Australia. David Rogers / Getty Images

MELBOURNE // Manu Tuilagi, the bustling centre, pressed his claims for selection for the second Test against Australia as a powerful but often sloppy British & Irish Lions scored five unanswered tries to beat the Melbourne Rebels 35-0 today.

After Conor Murray crossed to open the scoring in the 17th minute, one of Tuilagi's explosive runs helped to set up winger Sean Maitland's try in the 28th.

Flanker Sean O'Brien typified the power of the Lions' forwards when he barged over on the blind side shortly after halftime, and an indiscretion from Rebels second-half substitute Jordy Reid gave away a penalty try that put the game out of reach for the home side.

Second-half substitute Ben Youngs ran 30 metres to score from a lineout in the 73rd to seal the win.

After winning the opening Test at Brisbane last weekend, the Lions can clinch the three-Test series at Melbourne on Saturday.

"I'm really pleased with that performance," Lions head coach Warren Gatland said. "It keeps the momentum from Saturday. I thought the set piece was good, defended well, so I'm really happy.

"I thought the loose forwards were good. Sean Maitland was good on the wing. Richard Hibbard carried the ball strongly. These guys have been a real credit to the Lions and the four home nations. We're really proud of them so far."

Gatland said it was important for many of the players in the midweek team to "get back on the horse" after last week's upset loss to the ACT Brumbies in Canberra, their first loss to an Australian provincial team since 1971.

The New Zealander also said the players were told there were still opportunities for test selection. "The message to the players was that there was an opportunity to be part of the 23 for Saturday, or even part of the starting XV," he said.

"A few of the players I spoke to said it was nothing like they've ever experienced," Rebels coach Damien Hills said.

"That's what we expected to happen, but they never gave up and I thought the defence was outstanding. ... Just a shame we couldn't finish a few things off."

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