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Josh Adams gets 4 tries, B&I Lions win tour opener 56-14

July 3, 2021 GMT
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British and Irish Lions' Hamish Watson, right, attacks, during a warm-up rugby match between South Africa Lions and British and Irish Lions at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, July 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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British and Irish Lions' Hamish Watson, right, attacks, during a warm-up rugby match between South Africa Lions and British and Irish Lions at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, July 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Winger Josh Adams picked up four tries as the British and Irish Lions opened their tour with a compelling second-half display and a 56-14 win over South African domestic team the Lions on Saturday.

There was also a try for his Welsh countryman on the other wing, with Louis Rees-Zammit needing less than four minutes of his debut to cruise onto a kick through and put the British and Irish Lions on the board in South Africa.

Five of the British and Irish Lions’ eight tries came in the second half at an empty Ellis Park, including all of Adams’ scores. That took his personal tally to five tries in two games in the space of a week after also scoring in the win over Japan in Scotland last weekend.

The British and Irish Lions’ ability to step it up in the second 40 at altitude in Johannesburg will serve them well, with the decisive second and third tests against the Springboks due to be played in the city at the end of the six-week tour.

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“At times we were really clinical and we finished off good opportunities,” said fullback Stuart Hogg, who was captain for the night. “Look, we’re far from the finished article and we’re excited about the challenges that lie ahead.”

Alongside Adams, flanker Hamish Watson impressed and was rewarded with a try and Maro Itoje commanded the lineout, which gave the British and Irish Lions their platform to dominate. Owen Farrell was solid at No. 12 before stepping in at flyhalf and running things when Finn Russell was given a rest in the second half.

Scrumhalf Ali Price and his replacement Gareth Davies had the other tries for the British and Irish Lions.

Watson added to Rees-Zammit’s early score when he bounced out of a tackle to go in under the bar.

Price sliced through after a long lineout throw and a behind-the-back pass from Farrell opened the defense. The British and Irish Lions led 21-0.

Flanker Vincent Tshituka got the home team’s only try of the half when No. 8 Francke Horn found a big gap down the blindside. Horn again found space to put away wing Sibahle Maxwane in the second half to close it to 28-14.

Despite those minor defensive glitches, the British and Irish Lions were in good working order. They were especially slick on attack, leading to Adams’ glut in the second half.

His first came from a set move that put him through a big hole in midfield. Russell found him alone on the left wing with a crosskick for his second. He collected three and four late on as the opposition defense fragmented and the British and Irish Lions were the only team in it for the last 30 minutes.

“It was a good performance from the boys and definitely one we can build on,” said flanker Watson, who was man of the match ahead of Adams.

The Lions are back in the stadium on Wednesday to face the Sharks.

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