Leigh Halfpenny fires Lions to record 47-17 victory over Waratahs
Fullback’s 30 points the highest individual score against NSW side while 47-17 victory is Lions’ biggest over the team in 125 years
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny scored 30 points as the British & Irish Lions romped to a record 47-17 over the NSW Waratahs on Saturday, a week before the first test against Australia.
Five tries - including a brace for Halfpenny, who also enjoyed another golden night with the boot - kept the Lions unbeaten in five games this tour, and gave them their biggest win over the Waratahs in 125 years of visiting Australia.
Halfpenny's haul was also the highest individual total against the Waratahs - surpassing Jonny Wilkinson's 19 in 2001 - and was boosted by unblemished kicking statistics of four conversions and four penalties. Halfpenny has missed just one of his 23 goal attempts on this tour.
But the win had some of the gloss taken off by a possible hamstring injury which forced Welsh centre Jamie Roberts from the field in the final 10 minutes and appeared to put him in doubt for the start of the three-test series.
The Lions, looking for hard matches in Australia, got what they were looking for against the Waratahs, who gave a good account of themselves despite playing without 11 internationals.
But the tourists got on with the job and after leading 23-10 at half-time, they scored 24 points in the second half with Jonathan Davies, Tom Croft and Halfpenny all outstanding.
"A tough match for us and we're very pleased with the outcome and even at the end there when we were down to 14 men [with Roberts injured] we controlled the game without being under too much pressure," head coach Warren Gatland said.
"In fairness to the Waratahs they took it to us. I thought the guys responded magnificently. I thought the discipline was excellent, so I'm very pleased."
Gatland was impressed with his team's discipline with some provocation off the ball, particularly to the halves, Jonny Sexton and Mike Phillips.
"The big key in this game was keeping our discipline and it would have been easy for someone taken late or lose their head and throw a punch and that being picked up and leading to a citing," he said. "So from that point of view I think our discipline was absolutely fantastic."
Gatland paid tribute to centre Davies, who was outstanding. "I thought he was fantastic. Given the quality of our midfield and the pressure he was under to respond and that I thought it was one of the best games I have seen him play," he said.
Meanwhile, England wing Christian Wade was called up as cover for Roberts and George North.
The 22-year-old - capped just twice by England - had been due to play in England's second test against Argentina later on Saturday in Buenos Aires.
"We have obviously got ongoing treatment of some players so it's prudent to make sure we have enough backline cover," said Gatland.
"Christian played well in the first test against Argentina and is match fit."
Agence France-Presse, Reuters