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30 points from 47 is what Leigh Halfpenny contributed as the British and Irish Lions crushed the New South Wales Waratahs 47-17 with some thrilling running rugby to claim a fifth win in five tour matches on Saturday.
Halfpenny scored two tries in four minutes around half-time and converted eight kicks from eight attempts to add 20 points in another flawless display with the boot at the Sydney Football Stadium.
“To be fair the Waratahs took it to us but I think the boys handled it magnificently (and) in the end we were just too big and too powerful for them.” Coach Warren Gatland summed up the victory.
Missing 11 Wallabies through national duty or injury, the Waratahs gave the Lions only their second real contest of the tour in front of nearly 41 000 fans and a brace of tries from centre Tom Carter kept them in the match for the first 50 minutes.
Halfpenny, the Lions fullback, had the last word in the opening half when he ran in for his first try on an overlap and converted to send the tourists into the break 23-10 up. His second try came four minutes after the break after a neat midfield move had set Jonathan Davies free and the centre’s pass sent his fellow Welshman scuttling over the line.
The Waratahs displayed a never-say-die attitude, however, and Carter crashed over the line from close range after more good work from the huge Waratahs loch Skelton for a converted try to cut the deficit to 30-17.
Six Lions replacements just after the hour mark disrupted the tourists’ rhythm but Davies got a just reward for a fine performance when a Ben Youngs pass left him with a free run to the line.
Waratahs centre Rob Horne’s chances of playing for the Wallabies in the first test could disappear if he is cited for an early tip tackle on Halfpenny.
Overall, the Lions deserved their biggest win over a Waratahs team and, once again, showed that the Wallabies will under-estimate the tourists at their own peril. Bring on the first test.