British & Irish Lions
The Lions are a rugby union test team comprising players from the home nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Lions tours are conducted once every four years and in modern times have focused on Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The 2013 tour included a game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong and the Lions went on to win the series 2-1 over Australia. In 2017, almost 130 years since they played Otago in their first tour match, the British & Irish Lions return to New Zealand.
British & Irish Lions v Barbarians: minute-by-minute blog
Follow the latest action in historic clash live from Hong Kong Stadium
And now I better go write for tomorrow's paper. Buy it for all the in-depth analysis, thanks for tuning in!
10:43pm Warren Gatland and Paul O'Connell have been in.
Gatland says of the experience:
"It was a good runout - exaclty what we wanted, tougher than the score suggestsed. First half there were probably three or four tries that we missed out and we were probably guilty of forcing it, but if you look at the scoreline and the stats we deserved to win.
"It was tough [in the heat and humidity] out there. The players said it was like a bar of soap, but everyone seems good afterwards, no knocks and no injuries.
"It’s been a good start, to have a look around Hong Kong and bond as a team, without the intense interest that it’s going to be over the next few weeks."
10:10pm Dai Young and Sergio Parisse have been in. Plenty of more questions from British media about the weather, they're clearly not going to let that lie. Here's what Young had to say about the Schalk Brits / Owen Farrell scrap and his decision to leave out Rowan Varty:
"I think [the Brits incident] was dealt with, it's an unfortunate situation, tensions were high and you don’t want to see incidents that we're talking about after the game rather than the rugby. One was getting held back Schalk felt he could'nt get in the defensive line and he lashed out. I'm certainly not going to say that’s right but that’s what happened.
"[Varty's selection] was never on and off, Rowan was on standby if Mike Tindall hadn’t come through. I’m sure he’s really enjoyed the experience, he certainly didn’t look out of place, and he’s met with some experienced internationals and he’s only going to benefit from that."
Okay so that's that. Much better from Lions in second half and they can be happy with their evening's work. Plenty in the British press will still moan about playing in the heat etc, but I'm sure the players will survive. Punters - 28,643 of them - have enjoyed it, although some sensible ticket pricing might have given us a better atmosphere. Impressive players? Richie Gray definitely. Sexton good when he came on. Phillips, Cuthbert got doubles. Owen Farrell hasn't made a great start to his tour though, far too many basic errors. Anyway, stay tuned, I'll update later with some post-match reaction
80min FULL TIME Lions 59 Barbarians 8. Alun Wyn Jones gets put over in the right corner by Sexton to complete an eight-try gubbing. Sam Warburton congratulates his men as Sexton misses another conversion. Man of the match is Mike Phillips.
75min Lions 54 Barbarians 8 Lions build a maul in the right corner and the impressive Richie Gray helps it over the line for Dan Lydiate to score. Conversion is good
69min Lions 47 Barbarians 8 Great play from
I think George North, didn't see properly, Conor Murray to break a couple of tackles and hand-off a Baabaa, and he slips it right to Cuthbert, who charges over in the right corner again. Sexton misses the extras again.
60min Lions 42 Barbarians 8 It's another with the Barbarians become increasingly disjointed. Another poor pass from them, Conor Murray shrugs off a tackle, Toby Faletau offloads to Jamie Roberts, he does a little stutter step then hands off to Alex Cuthbert who storms down the right wing from about 40 metres out. Con missed.
Meanwhile, Mike Tindall is on, nicking a place that could and should have gone to Hong Kong's Varty. Still shaking my head over that move. Pathetic from Barbarians
57min Lions 37 Barbarians 8 Lions hit back immediately after a bad pass from the Barbarians on their own 22. Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies knock it into the end zone with their feet and Davies pounces on it. After a TV inspection it's given. Johnny Sexton adds the extras
56min Lions 30 Barbarians 8 Farrell plays a bad pass and the Barbarians pounce, spreading it left to Rokocoko who turns on the pace up the wing before offloading to Kahn Fotuali'i, who just has enough pace to see off Alex Cuthbert. Nick Evans' conversion attempt is just wide.
51min Great play from the Lions, from full-back Stuart Hogg deep in his own territory, running rugby through almost the entire team right to the Barbarians 10-metre line. But what looked being a superb try is denied when Farrell's final pass is intercepted. More like it
48min Justin Tipuric nearly adds another right under the posts, but Rokocoko prevents him getting the ball down. Scrum under the posts but Baa-baas get rid
Leonardo Ghiraldini replaces Schalk Brits, unfortunately reducing the punch-up likelihood, one feels
42min Lions 30 Barbarians 3 Whammy, instant impact as Phillips scores his second. Takes a knock-down from a lineout on the right 22, O'Connell I think, dummies a pass to his left then points to where he's going to score with Rokocoko nowhere near him. Big dive over the line. Farrell converts. Phillips has impressed
Players are back on the pitch and we're underway for the second half. Let's hope for a much improved 40 minutes. Or, failing that, another punch-up.
Half-time Lions 23 Barbarians 3 Farrell slots another penalty, from about 40 metres out. That's half-time and it's not been a classic by any means. Let's hope for better in the second half. Lions will certainly want to raise their game. Far too many handling errors, humidity probably playing a part in that. Attendance - 26, 643.
37min Sorry for the lack of updates but there ain't much to update. Back to the stop-startiness, just as we were threatening to get a bit of flow going. Players lathered in sweat, and the British media in the press box aren't much better.
32min Lions 20 Barbarians 3. Mike Phillips takes the ball from a ruck, dummies a pass to his left and charges through from about 20 metres out. Joe Rokocoko nearly grabs him on the line, but Philips hands him off, rolls in contact and hands it over the line. Farrell with the extras. Bit more like it from the Lions
27min Lions 13 Barbarians 3 Lions work it through several phases before Mike Phillips breaks the line from five metres out. He's held up on the line though, and Paul O'Connell dives over. Referee Steve Walsh calls for the TV as Baa-baas protest and the try is given. Farrell adds the extras.
23min Lions keep the ball for a bit, but look very disjointed. Too many handling errors. Good viewing if you're an Aussie, probably
20min Lions 6 Barbarians 3 Farrell notches his second pen, from wide right on the 22. Not much flowing rugby from either side so far.
19min Brits returns to the fray. Lions have scored none and conceded three in the time they've had the extra man, pretty poor. Brits and Farrell are teammates at Saracens, but that wasn't too friendly. Atmosphere pretty dull, South Stand trying to give it some.
16min. Lions 3 Barbarians 3 Elliott Daly levels for the Baa-baas with a great pen from 45 metres. Fairly stop-start so far and now we have the first of four breaks for water
11min. Farrell hooks his second pen wide from the left touchline on the 22
10min Sean Maitland unlucky not to open the try-scoring, showing superb pace to jet past Dmitri Yachvili, but not quite able to get down Jonathan Davies' kick through
7mins in and the first bit of tasty controversy. Owen Farrell clobbered Schalk Brits, and a penalty is given to the Baa-baas. But the replay shows that Brits punched Farrell first, a sly blindside dig across the jaw, because Farrell had hold of his shirt at a ruck. No penalty, and Brits gets sent to the sin-bin.
3 mins in > Lions 3 Barbarians 0. Owen Farrell boots the first points of this Lions tour with a penalty from about 40 metres. All Lions so far
7:37 Deputy secretary of the Home Affairs department, Johnathan McKinlay, welcomes the teams. Not exactly a big name. CY obviously not a rugger fan.
Stadium's about 3/4 full ... and we're off!
7:33 Drums roll ... here come the teams ... and the fireworks
7:17 We've had the obligatory dragon dance for good fortune and all that. No rooster slaughtered - "There will be enough blood on the pitch" says announcer.
Apparently kick-off is going to be delayed five minutes because the Lions were stuck in traffic and late getting to the ground.
7.06 Lions warming up as a big drum performance goes on next to them. Looks like we're getting a dragon dance in a minute. Stadium still more than half-empty. Organisers hoped it would be three-quarters full at kick-off, let's see about that. Ticket prices fairly scandalously expensive. About 26,000 came for the Bledisloe Cup game here in 2010, can we beat that?
6.59 Gavin Hastings has been interviewing Brian O'Driscoll pitchside on the stadium big screen. He says he hopes to come to the Hong Kong Sevens one day. On his fourth Lions tour, but he's never won one. Is this the year?
"We'll only win the tour by gelling as a squad ... it's a great opportunity,"
So how's about some teams?
British & Irish Lions
15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Mike Phillips. 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Richard Hibbard, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Paul O'Connell (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 7 Justin Tipuric, 8 Toby Faletau
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Jamie Heaslip, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Johnny Sexton, 23 George North
15 Jared Payne, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Casey Laulala, 11 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Dimitri Yachvili. 1 Paul James, 2 Schalk Brits, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 4 Marco Wentzel, 5 Dean Mumm, 6 Samu Manoa, 7 Sam Jones, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain)
Replacements: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Andrea Lo Cicero, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Imanol Harinordoquy, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 James Hook, 23 Mike Tindall
6.43 With less than an hour to kick-off, stadium is still 90% empty. Most fans taking opportunity to take on plenty of liquid, as per doctors' advice. Barbarians are warming up down below, no sign of any Lions yet
6.30 It's just over an hour to kick off here at Hong Kong Stadium for the historic meeting between the Lions and the Baa-baas, the first time these two have played in Hong Kong.
The heat and humidity don't seem quite as bad as feared - 31C and 66% - though admittedly my job might be slightly less taxing than the players'.
Unfortunately for Hong Kong's Rowan Varty, he has been left out by the Barbarians, an absolutely shocking decision in my opinion. Mike Tindall, the Queen's grandson-in-law and noted dwarf tosser, passed a late fitness test to leave Varty devastated. He has been taking pix instead:
— Rowan Varty (@vartshk) June 1, 2013