Sharks 7-54 British and Irish Lions: Hat-tricks for Van der Merwe and Adams boost Gatland's patchwork team

By Sports Desk July 07, 2021

The British and Irish Lions brushed off uncertainty threatening to engulf their tour as they made it two emphatic wins from two matches in South Africa with a 7-54 win over Sharks in Johannesburg.

After two members of the Lions staff tested positive for Covid-19 hours before kick-off, ruling eight members of the squad out of the game, Warren Gatland gave debuts to Tom Curry, Josh Navidi and Adam Beard.

Three tries each for Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe ensured Gatland's patchwork side made light work of a defensively frail Sharks team.

Further tries from Bundee Aki and Louis Rees-Zammit and composed kicking by Owen Farrell and Finn Russell gave the Lions a scoreline that will keep morale in the camp high despite the uncertainty shrouding the tour.

Adams made it six tries in three matches before a neat attacking move saw Van der Merwe round Thaakir Abrahams to go over, with Farrell converting both to give the Lions a 14-point lead inside seven minutes.

Farrell sent a superbly weighted grubber deep into Sharks territory where Van der Merwe beat Elliot Daly to the ball and touched down to make it 0-19.

A fine half of attacking rugby was capped with a fourth try when Luke Cowan-Dickie drove Sharks back before Aki forced his way past James Venter and made his first score for the Lions, and Farrell converted to make it 0-26 at half-time.

Sharks improved after the interval and pulled a try back through Venter, who could not be stopped down the right touchline and went over before Curwin Bosch converted.

Farrell, struggling with a shoulder injury, was replaced shortly before Adams capitalised on a Marius Louw error, hacking on to score a try that Russell converted.

Adams fed Rees-Zammit, who showed his electric pace to score under the posts and Russell converted to make it 40-7 with 20 minutes left, and Van der Merwe completed his hat-trick when Daly's clever pass put him through in the corner.

Two minutes from time, Adams emulated his team-mate, scoring his third of the game after good hands in midfield from Beard and Taulupe Faletau.

Lions continue to roar, for now

Should the outbreak of coronavirus in the Lions camp spread beyond the two positives already detected, the uplift from this result may be shortlived. 

What's more, Gatland has injuries to Farrell (shoulder), Rees-Zammit (hamstring) and Navidi (shin) to contend with.

Simmonds makes his mark

Sam Simmonds went into the game determined to make a point to England head coach Eddie Jones, who has not rewarded his outstanding performances for Exeter Chiefs. 

The number eight had a superb first half, making more carries (six) than any other Lions forward, and only Josh Adams (31m) and Elliot Daly (51m) made more metres than his 30.

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