British and Irish Lions (7) 39 Tries: Mears, Phillips, Fitzgerald, Byrne, Heaslip Cons: O'Gara 3, Hook Pens: O'Gara 2
Hooker Lee Mears crosses for the Lions in the first half
By Mark Orlovac
The Lions continued their unbeaten start to the tour of South Africa with a five-try win over the Sharks.
The tourists dominated the first half but only had a try from Lee Mears to show for their efforts, while Rory Kockott kicked a penalty for the hosts.
But the Lions did improve, with Mike Phillips claiming a well-worked try with Luke Fitzgerald adding another.
Lee Byrne claimed a fine sole effort while Jamie Heaslip completed the scoring right at the whistle.
The performance was an improvement from the one that saw off the Cheetahs last weekend, but head coach Ian McGeechan still has plenty of work to do before the first Test against South Africa on 20 June.
The Lions conceded numerous penalties at the hotly-contested breakdown area as well as struggling to get quick ball, while loose-head prop Gethin Jenkins was at the wrong end of some harsh refereeing at scrum time.
But they did keep their Super 14 hosts try-less while they managed to breach the stubborn Sharks defence when they gave the ball some width in the second half.
And with the likes of centre Jamie Roberts, full-back Byrne and scrum-half Phillips producing impressive displays, the Test team options are now looking a lot clearer.
The opening exchanges were dominated by the men in red, with the Sharks spending most of the first 15 minutes camped in their own 22.
The Sharks defended superbly to keep the tourists out but when mounted their first meaningful attack, the Lions should have opened the scoring.
Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll intercepted a pass from fly-half Monty Dumond and sprinted the length of the field but he ran out of gas and was tackled by Lwazi Mvovo just short of the line.
The Lions finally opened the scoring on 23 minutes when England hooker Lee Mears bundled over from close range after Phillips made a neat charge and offload.
Kockott kicked a penalty when Jenkins was penalised but the half ended with the Lions again controlling play although they could have added to their total if they had not relied so much on their forwards.
Byrne was hauled down just before the line after a neat back-line move before the Welshman was denied a try by the video referee when wing Shane Williams knocked on a Ronan O'Gara kick to the corner.
The Lions trudged off the field rueing their missed chances but Phillips gave his side the perfect start to the second period with a try when he jinked his way over from the 22.
Roberts looked a threat all game and his charge led to a penalty for O'Gara, who added another three points on 53 minutes when blind-side flanker Jacques Botes was penalised for a run of offences.
The third try was made in Ireland, O'Driscoll sprinting down the wing before standing up his man and feeding Fitzgerald outside him for the score.
The Lions were purring now and O'Driscoll was again key as the tourists scored a fourth, the Heineken Cup winner feeding a miss pass out to Byrne - who fended off a tackler and then stepped cutely to cross with just 12 minutes to go.
Substitute prop Phil Vickery was sin-binned late in the game for killing possession, but it made no difference, and it was quickly cancelled out when Sharks number eight Keegan Daniel also saw yellow after a trip on Williams.
Heaslip bundled over from close range as the clock wound down and the Lions will be happy with their night's work as they look ahead to Saturday's game against Western Province.
Sharks: Stefan Terblanche, Chris Jordaan, Andries Strauss, Riaan Swanepoel, Luzuko Vulindlu, Monty Dumond, Rory Kockott; Deon Carstens, Skipper Badenhorst, Jannie du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Johann Muller (capt), Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel, Keegan Daniel.
Replacements: Guy Cronje (for Jordaan, 62), Lwazi Mvovo (for Swanepoel, 17), Charl McLeod (for Kockott, 70), Patric Cilliers (for Carstens, 55), Craig Burden (for Badenhorst, 53), Albert van den Berg (for Sykes, 56), Michael Rhodes (for Botes, 70). Also Carstens for Du Plessis 77.
British and Irish Lions: Lee Byrne, Shane Williams, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Luke Fitzgerald, Ronan O'Gara, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Lee Mears, Adam Jones, Alun-Wyn Jones, Paul O'Connell (capt), Tom Croft, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Riki Flutey (for Roberts, 64), James Hook (for O'Gara, 78), Mike Blair (for Phillips, 71), Matthew Rees (for Mears, 69), Phil Vickery (for Jones, 69), Simon Shaw (for O'Connell, 64)
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.