Can’t catch me: Ben Youngs fends off a desperate lunge from Jarrod Saffy on his way to scoring a try. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoThe British and Irish Lions showed they had learnt from their surprise loss to the Brumbies by proving too strong for the Melbourne Rebels on Tuesday night. The tourists beat Australia’s youngest Super Rugby team 35-0 at AAMI Park.

Both teams were weakened by the absence of Test players, and looked for lessons from the Brumbies’ 14-12 win earlier this month.

The Rebels believed they could take advantage of any lack of cohesion among the mid-weekers, while the Lions players were keen to boost their chances of selection for the two remaining Test matches against Australia.

The Rebels stayed within reach of the Lions on the scoreboard, even though the tourists dominated throughout, until midway through the second half. Despite keeping the Lions’ lead to 14-0 at half-time, Melbourne remained scoreless as it 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-soild defence snuffed out any semblance of attack from the Rebels.

The Lions’ pressure proved too much in the fifth minute when they won a scrum five metres from the tryline. The Rebels did well to initially hold out the scrum and then an attempted barge over by Toby Faletau before 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 at an attacking move by the Rebels through rock-solid 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 when he attempted to sidestep the last man in defence Bryce Hegarty.

But 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 they 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.

Lions 35 (1 penalty try) (Sean Maitland, Conor Murray, Sean O’Brien, Ben Youngs tries Owen Farrell 3, Stuart Hogg 2 cons) b Melbourne Rebels 0 at AAMI Park. Referee: Glen Jackson. Crowd: 28,658.

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

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