Win clouded by biting claim and ankle injury to prop Cian Healy.
The British and Irish Lions shrugged off a biting controversy as they started their Australian tour with an emphatic 69-17 win against an undermanned Western Force in Perth.
In what was a little more than a glorified training run against a second-string Force, the Lions cruised to a nine-try victory helped by a remarkable 100 percent kicking record from fullback Leigh Halfpenny.
However, there was some bad news for the Lions with prop Cian Healy suffering what initially appeared to be a serious leg injury, as well as finding himself embroiled in an alleged biting incident.
Healy, who was the subject of a video review after the biting claim from Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan, wrenched his left ankle in a tackle in the 36th minute and had to be stretchered off, in great pain and with the rest of his tour in doubt.
Lions officials were hopeful he had only suffered a sprained ankle, although he was sent straight to hospital for X-rays.
It was just Healy’s second appearance for the Lions, but he was also caught up in controversy in the 20th minute, when the video referee was asked to investigate the biting allegation.
Sheehan, who had warned before the game that the Force would seek to physically buffet the Lions, apparently suggested Healy had bitten him, but the video referee found no evidence to sustain the claim.
Sheehan appeared to repeat the allegation at half-time.
“I’m not sure if it was an accident or on purpose, so we’ll move on,” Sheehan said when interviewed as he walked off the ground.
The Lions were disappointed to come up against an under-strength Force side, after the Super 15 strugglers named seven players who are yet to play a Super Rugby game and another six with fewer than 10 matches under their belt.
That gulf in experience, and talent, was evident right from the kickoff as the Lions, on their 11th tour in Australia and playing in Perth for the fourth time, dominated possession in front of a crowd of 35,103.
Fresh off a 59-8 win over the Barbarians in Hong Kong en-route to Australia, and despite looking rusty at times, they ran in nine tries, many of them under little pressure from the outgunned Force.
Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll, on his fourth Lions tour, led the way with a brace and there was little sign of the bruising encounter the Force had vowed to serve up.
Welsh ace Halfpenny put on a clinic with the boot, slotting a remarkable 11 attempts without a blemish in a virtuoso display, most of his conversions from acute angles, as he racked up 24 points.
The Force did manage a couple of consolation tries in the second half, the first through the bustling work of Richard Brown in the 48th minute and the second from substitute Lachlan McCaffrey in the 63rd minute.
The Lions play the Queensland Reds on Saturday, ahead of the first Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane on June 22.