Execution and and handling below par for touring side, but are bound to improve.
The British and Irish Lions have begun their tour with an unconvincing victory against the Barbarians in sweltering conditions in Hong Kong.
Despite suffering in the heat and humidity, the Lions still managed to rack up a 59-8 win over a disappointing Barbarians outfit who conceded six second-half tries.
The pre-match criticism of scheduling the 125th anniversary tour-opener in the height of the Asian summer was vindicated as both sides failed to handle the sweltering plus-30C conditions in front of 28,643 fans.
If Brisbane can turn on a warm winter’s day on June 22 then Australia should start favourites in the first Test.
Warren Gatland’s men did cross for eight five-pointers but they bombed many more through poor passing, fumbles and wrong option-taking.
The Barbarians produced the try of the match after former All Black winger Joe Rokocoko punished a terrible pass by English five-eighth Owen Farrell and put halfback Kahn Fotuali’i over in an electric 60m counter-attack.
On the basis of his sloppy Lions debut, Farrell has given Irishman Jonny Sexton a leg-up in the race for the pivotal No.10 jersey for the three-Test series.
The English golden boy, belted by Saracens clubmate Schalk Brits at the back of an early ruck, slotted six from seven shots at goal but produced far too many errors in attack.
Sexton produced an enterprising 21-minute cameo off the bench and set up Welsh winger Alex Cuthbert for his second try as well as Alun Wyn Jones’ score at the death.
It was three other Welshman – two-try halfback Mike Phillips, centre Jamie Roberts and No.8 Tony Faletau – who were the most impressive
Kiwi-born winger Sean Maitland, like Farrell, let himself down with poor handling and botched his early chance.
Welsh flanker Dan Lydiate and Scottish lock Richie Gray were both whole-hearted 80-minute performers to show they are over their injury problems.
Brits was sin-binned for his inexcusable seventh-minute elbow on Farrell but referee Steve Walsh told the South African hooker he would have been red-carded in a more serious match.