The British and Irish Lions got their first tour match on South African soil underway on Saturday with a big performance against the Sigma Lions in Johannesburg.
The last time the tourists took on the Lions from Johannesburg was in a 74-10 victory for the away team in 2009. The Sigma Lions were hoping avoid such a scoreline this time around, however their lack of form leading into the match did not bode well for the hosts.
The tourists got off to a strong start, dominating in the forwards, before releasing Owen Farrell, Finn Russell and Louis Rees-Zammit out wide.
It was the debutant Rees-Zammit that scored the opening try of the match, in just under three minutes, after Farrell skipped Chris Harris and let loose the 22-year-old, who chipped over the defence to score.
Hamish Watson switched the play up a few minutes later, as he crashed over from close range to extend the tourists' lead to 14 points after just seven minutes.
After giving up two early tries, the Sigma Lions began to build up possession deep inside the British and Irish 22m, winning a number of penalties inside their territory.
After weathering the Sigma Lions storm for fifteen minutes, it took a well-placed lineout and a lazy defensive structure from the hosts for Ali Price to add the third try for the tourists.
Not to go scoreless in the first half themselves, the South Africans managed to get on the scoreboard after a missed tackle from Owen Farrell allowed Francke Horn to counter attack up the pitch.
The try was finished off by Vincent Tshituka, taking the score back to a 14-point lead for the visitors at half time, after Wyn Jones was denied a try on the stroke of half time due to some ill-discipline from Courtney Lawes
It was a dream start for the tourists after the restart, as Josh Adams crossed over the line on the back of a perfectly-worked training-ground move from the kickoff.
Despite Farrell adding the extras, the scoreline was back to within 14 points moments later as Francke Horn broke the B&I Lions defence, and sent Rabz Maxwane away for the converted try.
As the second half went on, the British and Irish Lions began unveiling their flare, as Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg combined on attack to break the Sigma Lions' defence on numerous occasions.
It was Adams, though, that would benefit from a brilliantly placed chip kick off of Russell for his second try of the match, to take the tourists back to a 21-point lead.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Gatland began to empty the bench. One of the players to make an immediate impact was Gareth Davies, who scythed through the hosts' defence to score under the posts.
Moments later, Adams added two more tries to round his total up to four, making him the top scorer on the tour so far. Farrell maintained his 100% success rate, taking the tourists to a 41-point lead.
In the final play of the match, the tourists attempted to get their driving maul rolling, however they were caught out for obstruction, allowing the hosts to clear out from their own 22m.
A knock-on would call time on the opening tour match in South Africa, as the tourists celebrated a 56-14 victory.
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