Manu Is there anything as good as a Lions tour? Photo: Getty Images
杭州桑拿

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G’day, and welcome to RugbyHeaven’s live coverage as the British and Irish Lions take on the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park. It is the first time the Rebels have faced the Lions – back in 2001, the franchise was merely a glint in the milkman’s eye.

The Lions will be desperate to win this outing, and get some closure after their shock loss to the Brumbies in their last mid-weeker. Gatland’s men won the first Test on Saturday by a whisker, but you can’t help but think that the Brumbies gave the men in gold a big boost in the belief department.

With the big two – James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale – licking their wounds ahead of the second Test at the weekend, it’ll be up to the likes of Bryce Hegarty and the returning Luke Burgess to spark the home side.

Damien Hill has named an extremely strong XV, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Jarrod Saffy and Scott Fuglistaller will get stuck right in.

It’s a better Lions side than the one that lost to the Brumbies – even with Geoff Parling having been pulled out late to cover for the injured Paul O’Connell next weekend, so expect the men in red to resume normal service with a comfortable win.

Samoan-English battering ram Manu Tuilagi is back in the house, and should prove a handful for regular centre pairing Sidey and Inman.

There are a few Lions in with a shout of making the Test bench at least – from Dan Cole and Richard Hibbard to Farrell and Kearney – if the big fullback plays out of his skin. Think Folau big though.

The Rebels haven’t had the results this year, but have put in some big performances, and piled on plenty of points even when on the wrong end of the result. Damien Hill has promised running rugby, so we should be in for a treat.

I’m calling Rebels 12 Lions 36.

So, we’re about ten minutes from kickoff here in Melbourne, and AAMI Park is filling up rapidly.

The second Test in 2001 in Melbourne was a belter. It was played down the road at Colonial Stadium – what we now know as the Etihad Stadium, and was crucial for the series.

After a first half that suggested the British Lions were about to go two-up in the series, a crackerjack try from Joe Roff pulled the Wallabies back into the Test, before fellow legend Matt Burke sealed the deal for a comfortable win.

Check out the highlights below, and get pumped for the second Test this weekend. Who will be this year’s Roff and Burke?

So, the only team to have taken a scalp from the tourists so far have been the Brumbies down in Canberra, but make no mistake – Damien Hill will not set up like Jake White.

The Brumbies have thrived this year from keeping the ball tight and kicking for territory, while the Rebels have preferred a less successful but highly entertaining fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants gameplan.

I’d expect a game somewhere between the wide quick play of the Waratahs and the heart-on-sleeve rumble of the Force in their tour games. The players are just going back in to get changed into their match gear, and then we’re off. It’s a cloudy night in the Rebel city, but the 10 degree temperature should make the Lions feel right at home.

The Lions go left quick, showing their intent to throw the ball around, with the conditions perfect for it. It’s working great, until the ball from Ian Evans to Bread Barritt hits the turf. The Rebels recover the ball and clear long through Woodward. The Rebels midfield have had a workout already.null

And we’re off, with the Lions kicking off. It’s a safe take and a good clearance, and the Lions will have the first lineout of the match.

Anything you can do….. The Rebels give it back to the Lions with some running rugby of their own. Damien Hill wasn’t bluffing. We’re in for a game here. Lineout Lions on their 10m line. And it’s a steal! Great work from the big men. That’ll have Gatland raging.

Great line-out steal by the Rebels. Lions line-out woes continue? #REBvLIO#LionsTour— Qantas Wallabies (@QantasWallabies) June 25, 2013

It’s great stuff from the Rebels, who edge up into the Lions 22m, but it’s all lost as Toby Faletau hits the breakdown hard and fast and forces the penalty as the Rebels hold on on the floor. Owen Farrell is able to clear into the Rebels half.

First proper run from Tuilagi, and Mitch Inman stays strong. And Glenn Jackson evens up the penalty count as the Lions hang on. REBELS 0 LIONS 0

We’ve had two scrums go down, and the result is a penalty to the Lions, who clear up to halfway. A few concerns for the tourists here, with the set piece being decidedly wobbly under pressure in the opening 10.

Kearney gets the ball on the run as the game gets going again, and the Lions attempt a rare run from deep in their own half. The Irishman runs strongly, but by the time he offloads to Maitland, the former Crusader can do little but attempt to stay in play. He does his job, and the tourists come back infield. Excellent cleanout as expected from the men in red. They are giving no respite to the defence.

Coachkiller from Burgess. Inman forces the turnover following a great hit from Gareth Delve on Ryan Grant. The scrumhalf gets it at the base, and his box kick goes straight out – he was just outside the 22m. We’ll come back.

The Lions are starting to ramp up the phases, but as yet is hasn’t quite happened for them, with ball going to ground too often. This time O’Brien loses the ball in contact as Faletau loomed in support. They are making good inroads around the fringes, and it’s only a matter of time before the first meat pie. Tuilagi has made a couple of half-hearted  breaks, but doesn’t look Test ready by any means. REBELS 0 LIONS 0

Clever play from Sean Maitland. he catches the restart with an outstretched foot in touch. By the book, it’s called straight out, and the Lions will have a scrum on halfway.

Barrett tries to take on Inman in the midfield, and the big Rebel holds strong. But fails to release his opposite man in the tackle, and the Lions have a penalty. Owen Farrell kicks it upfield for an attacking lineout 15m out. Trouble. Possibly of the Samoan-English kind here.

Or not. Richie Gray knocks on in the lineout. It was a very ordinary lift, and he lost the ball as he came down unsupported. The Lions midweek lineout continues to suffer. Rebels ball. Delve comes away with it, but doesn’t release under pressure from Faletau again. Lydiate dumped the Rebels skipper and Faletau came straight in. He is playing himself into Test contention.

Another dodgy lineout from the Lions as the visitors opt to go long to Gray. He taps down to Murray, who just about wraps it up as he is dumped. It’s really not working for them. The Lions spin the ball, but as Zebo hits the gap, the ball from Owen Farrell bounces loose, and goes to ground again. The visitors have had enough ball and position for another try or two here, but the passes just aren’t sticking. Rebels scrum, 25m from their posts, centre field.

And they’ll have a penalty as Ryan Grant is penalised for not keeping square in the scrum. The Scotsman has had a tour to forget so far.

What is it with the #lions throw ins? do the Aussies have funny balls or something? #LionsTour#REBvLIO— Stephen Montgomery (@Montgomery_SH) June 25, 2013

Lions looking very disjointed again. Rebels well up for this but doubt their capacity for 80.— Laurie Fisher (@LordLaurie58) June 25, 2013

Decent chance there for the Lions. Tuilagi makes a line break in the midfield, and hands off to Brad Barritt. he puts it on the toe for Zebo, but Woodward grounds the ball dead just ahead of the Irish winger. It was carried back, so we’ll have a Lions scrum 5m out.

The conversion is a cracker from Owen Farrell from out wide. Oh how the Wallabies could do with the kind of kicking percentages the likes of Farrell, Halfpenny and Sexton are carrying into the sharp end of the tour. REBELS 0 LIONS 7

TRY-TIME: That was inevitable. The Rebels survive the attempted pushover from the 5m scrum, as Toby Faletau controlled the ball deflty from 8. The big Welshman comes up short, plays it between his legs and halfback Conor Murray dives over for his second Lions try. REBELS 0 LIONS 5 KTC

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

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