Don’t stop me now: Jarrod Saffy unsuccessfully attempts to tackle Ben Youngs as he runs in for a try. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoMATCH STATS/AS IT HAPPENED

The British and Irish Lions showed they learnt their lesson after their surprise loss to the Brumbies, bouncing back to squash the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Tuesday night.

With the Lions having not lost more than one non-Test game on an Australian tour for more than a century, both teams, weakened by the absence of Test players, looked for lessons from the Brumbies’ 14-12 win.

The Rebels believed they could take advantage of what appeared to be lesser cohesion among the mid-weekers, while the Lions players set themselves to press for a berth in the Test team for the final two games against Australia.

Despite being Australia’s youngest Super Rugby team, the Rebels stayed within reach of the Lions on the scoreboard until midway through the second half. But despite keeping the Lions lead to 14-0 at half-time, Melbourne remained scoreless as they gave up five tries, which included a penalty try.

The Lions dominated from the outset, their forwards putting together impressive short-passing movements that stretched the Rebels defence, while their rock-solid defence snuffed out any semblance of attack.

The pressure proved too much in the 5th minute when they won a scrum five metres from the tryline. The home side did well to initially hold out the Lions scrum and then an attempted barge over by Toby Faletau but a mistake by Rebels openside breakaway Scott Fuglistaller when he rushed up on Conor Murray. The Lions half-back spun out of the tackle and dove over to score. Owen Farrell made the conversion to give the Lions a 7-0 lead.

The Lions continued to starve the Rebels of any possession – and stymie any attempt of an attacking move by the Rebels through rock-sold defence – and it seemed only a matter of time for the Lions to score again. They did so in impressive fashion that began with a bust by Manu Tuilagi.

Tuilagi’s tour has been ruined by a shoulder injury suffered against Queensland two weeks ago but the big outside centre gave Warren Gatland plenty to consider with his contribution to the second try, palming off Rebels captain Gareth Delve before sending a brilliant left-handed round the corner pass that sent a wave of support players flooding into the Rebels half.

Faletau, who had an impressive game, again came close to scoring, this time slipping over with he attempted to sidestep the last man in defence Bryce Hegarty. However, the Lions continued to spread it to the right with Sean Maitland crossing in the corner. Farrell again converted to give the Lions a 14-0 lead after 26 minutes.

The Rebels’ best chance to score in the first 40 minutes – apart from a missed penalty attempt by Jason Woodward mid-way through the half – came in the final minutes when the Lions were penalised for being off-side and Delve chose to go for the lineout rather than opting for an easy penalty attempt for Woodward.

The decision pleased the crowd but backfired on the Rebels who lost the next two lineouts and when it had a final chance for points after the half-time siren young five-eighth Hegarty wasted the chance with a poorly directed cross-field kick that missed intended target winger Tom English.

The game opened up in the second half as both coaches made a rush of changes with the Sean O’Brien and Ben Youngs scoring tries and the Lions being awarded a penalty try after Rebels breakaway Jordy Reid was penalised and sin-binned for an infringement during a Lions driving maul.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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