x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Lions fight back to open with victory

The British and Irish Lions recover from 18-3 down to beat Royal Highveld XV in their opening tour match today.

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA // The British and Irish Lions recovered from 18-3 down to beat Royal Highveld XV 37-25 in their opening tour match today. The South African side, drawn from five provinces that do not play in the Super 14, surprised the Lions as they ran in two tries to lead 18-3 after 27 minutes. The Lions had not lost their first fixture on tour since 1971 - when Queensland beat them in Brisbane en route to New Zealand - but that spectre loomed large. The Lions showed their experience and stamina by regaining the lead with just four minutes remaining then adding a fourth try on the final whistle to extend their winning margin to a flattering 12 points. Fly-half Ronan O'Gara succeeded with all seven of his kicks at goal, four conversions and three penalties, and scored the last try for a personal tally of 22 points in a fine all-round display by the Irishman.

The winger Tommy Bowe, Lee Byrne, who enjoyed an impressively solid display at fullback, and replacement lock Alun-Wyn Jones scored the other Lions tries. The Highveld XV's tries were all scored by forwards, the flanker Wilhelm Koch, hooker Rayno Barnes and tighthead prop Bees Roux. * Reuters