Adams scores four tries as Lions multiply in game opener
Josh Adams plundered four tries as the British and Irish Lions opened their tour on South African soil with a frenzied 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions.
The hosts were bunnies caught in the headlights as they leaked their first tries to Louis Rees-Zammit and Hamish Watson, but an impressive uprising followed that troubled the Lions’ defense for a spell.
Once that was brought under control, Warren Gatland’s men struggled with Adams helping themselves to four second-half tries against the weaker provincial teams they will face over the next few weeks.
Adams increased his tally to five touchdowns in two starts after also going on the scoresheet against Japan, putting him on pole to secure one of the wing slots against the Springboks on July 24.
Scrum-halfs Ali Price and Gareth Davies also defeated the outclassed Sigma Lions ahead of empty pits at Emirates Airline Park, while Owen Farrell made all eight conversions.
The jury is still out on the 10-12 partnership between Farrell and Finn Russell, but the Scottish maverick playmaker provided some thrilling moments of skill to improve his own testing outlook.
Although Adams scored four tries, it was Russell’s Scottish teammate Watson who was named the official man of the match after delivering a full game to the open.
And after the cruel misfortune of losing Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric to injury during the curtain-raiser against Japan a week earlier, the Lions were relieved to see no obvious casualties in Johannesburg.
Russell took control early and the tourists took advantage of the crossing in the fourth minute, with the Scottish opening half acting as track master until compatriot Chris Harris took the lead for Rees-Zammit to produce a elegant finish in its infancy.
The hosts were sent back by muscular litters from Courtney Lawes, Watson and Kyle Sinckler and the pressure was too much when Watson burst on the whitewash.
FULL MATCH DETAILS
Watson’s explosive start continued as he flattened Burger Odendaal with a fierce tackle, but for the first time the Lions were upside down as the South African province progressed through the pick and go, forcing a series of penalties.
Only the engaged defense, led by Watson, kept the test line intact until the danger passed and a phase of wear and tear ensued in which the tourists were turned around and an attack erupted. amid the confusion between Farrell and Ali Price.
The rambling theme continued until the Lions kicked in as their opponents procrastinated in the 33rd minute of the line-out, a long throw finding Farrell who spun and dragged Price down running for a try under the posts. .
But then it was the turn of the tourists to die out because their frail blind defense was cleverly exploited and with the red wall not jostling in time, the flanker Vincent Tshituka took the upper hand.
A neck kick from Lawes saw a Wyn Jones try scored, but 47 seconds into the second half, Adams broke through using precise footwork after Watson and Price combined in a alignment to create space.
Immediately the Lions’ defense was passed by the small side to give winger Rabz Maxwane an easy run, but Russell’s precise chip on the wing gave Adams an easy second which handed Gatland’s men to the orders.
The bench had arrived and two of the substitutes were involved in the next down as Elliot Daly made his way through the white shirts before slipping a pass for Davies to score.
Jonny Hill sent Adams in for his third – the Wales wing will score a few easier tries – and it was another single point for his fourth after recovering Daly’s long pass to cross unopposed.