New Zealand scored over 50 points in three successive Tests for just the second time in their history as the All Blacks ran out 60-13 winners over Fiji.

Richie Mo'unga and Sevu Reece were the stars of the show in Hamilton, the former racking up 13 points with the boot and assisting three tries – his most in a Test and just the second time he has made multiple assists in a single match – while the latter scored a hat-trick.

The All Blacks beat Tonga 102-0 before their 57-23 win over Fiji in Dunedin last week, and Reece had them ahead again in the 14th minute despite Ben Volavola's early penalty.

Reece had won each of the three previous Tests in which he had scored a try and there never looked any risk of New Zealand letting their grasp slip once he went over for his second in the 30th minute, with the wing completing his maiden hat-trick before half-time.

Ardie Savea and Will Jordan touched down either side of the interval as New Zealand clicked through the gears, though Peni Ravai did at least get a consolation try on the board for Fiji.

Rieko Ioane soon had the hosts' sixth score and Samisoni Taukei'aho helped himself to a double either side of Shannon Frizell's effort to round off the win for the All Blacks, who have won their past four Tests.

Next up for New Zealand is the Bledisloe Cup against Australia, with Auckland's Eden Park hosting the first match of the three-Test series.

The British and Irish Lions will aim to protect a proud record that goes back almost a century when they tackle the Stormers on Saturday in Cape Town.

It was 1924 when the Lions last lost consecutive non-Test matches on a tour of South Africa, and Warren Gatland's side head into the weekend on the back of a midweek defeat.

That loss on Wednesday came at the hands of a strong South Africa A, with the Lions going down 17-13 to a team that featured several World Cup winners.

Coach Gatland has named a wholly new XV for the tussle with the Stormers, and he insists places for the first Test against the Springboks next weekend are very much up for grabs.

Asked about scrum-half Ali Price, who has Gareth Davies and Connor Murray as competition for the number nine Test jersey, Gatland urged the Scotland international to grasp his chance against the Stormers.

"I'm pleased with the way he's gone. He's kicked well. He's got that left foot variation. He's made a couple of nice breaks and he's defended well too," Gatland said.

"He's had a really good tour so it's a really good game for him to play on Saturday and give him an opportunity to put his hand up."

Alun Wyn Jones could remarkably have a part to play too, having recovered from the dislocated shoulder he sustained against Japan at Murrayfield last month.

Test rugby's most-capped player, initially designated as captain of the Lions for this tour, will be on the replacements' bench against the Stormers.

Gatland said: "I spoke to Alun Wyn and spoke to the medical team about the ability to put him on the bench. We felt if he was going to be in contention next week that he needed to have a hit-out to prove 100 per cent he was fit and ready to go."

A minor ankle knock means Welsh fly-half Dan Biggar sits out the Stormers clash, as Gatland warned there was a risk he would be "sore" afterwards.

"If it was a Test match, he would have fronted up and be ready to go," said the head coach added.

The Lions will be on their guard against a team who boast, in wing Edwill van der Merwe, the leading try-scorer from South Africa's Rainbow Cup competition this year. Van der Merwe bagged five tries, with no other player scoring more than three, and he also recorded the best average gain per carry of any player to run with the ball on more than five occasions in the competition (11.2 metres per carry).

Across their five games in that tournament, the Stormers won twice and lost three times, but each match was decided by a margin or four points or fewer, and they averaged the most tackles per game of any side (130) and had the best tackle success rate (86 per cent).

 

FINAL CHANCE TO STAKE A CLAIM

Gatland confirmed a combination of Biggar at 10 and Owen Farrell at 12 remains an option for the Lions for the Test series. He said: "We haven't had that opportunity to play those two together, the way that things have gone. First thing is we want to see how the midfield combination with Robbie [Henshaw] and Elliot [Daly] goes as well.

"We have got other options and that 10-12 combination ... we know with his experience that Owen could easily fit into that 12 position. It's not something that, because we haven't used, it we wouldn't potentially consider."

SMITH THE BOLTER

Marcus Smith has a monumental opportunity this weekend, selected to start at fly-half in the final match before the Tests get under way. Fresh from an England Test debut, it is suddenly not beyond the bounds of possibility that the 22-year-old international newcomer could come into the reckoning for next Saturday.

His opposite number will be a familiar face, with former Harlequins club-mate Tim Swiel selected at number 10 by the Stormers.

British & Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg (captain), Josh Adams, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Marcus Smith, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Adam Beard, Jonny Hill, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Zander Fagerson, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Simmonds, Gareth Davies, Chris Harris, Louis Rees-Zammit.

Stormers: Sergeal Petersen, Seabelo Senatla, Rikus Pretorius, Dan du Plessis, Edwill van der Merwe, Tim Swiel, Godlen Masimla; Leon Lyons, JJ Kotze, Neethling Fouche, Ernst van Rhyn (captain), JD Schickerling, Nama Xaba, Johan du Toit, Evan Roos.

Replacements: Andre-Hugo Venter, Kwenzo Blose, Sazi Sandi, Justin Basson, Marcel Theunissen, Thomas Bursey, Abner van Reenen, Juan de Jongh, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Niel Otto, Leolin Zas, Cornel Smit.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The British and Irish Lions have never played the Stormers but played Western Province on 16 occasions, winning the last seven of those clashes. They also played Boland on four occasions, the other feeder team for the Stormers (W4).
– In 2009, the Lions required a late James Hook penalty goal to secure the win against Western Province (26-23) at a wet Newlands. Tommy Bowe, Ugo Monye and Martyn Williams all scored tries for the tourists that day.
– The Lions have lost just one of their past 10 matches immediately prior to the first Test of a tour (2013 v Brumbies), not losing such a fixture in South Africa since 1962 against Northern Transvaal.
– Smith was the only player to evade more than half of the tackle attempts that were made on him in the Premiership last season, among all those who faced 50 or more such attempts. He also made more break assist passes (27) than any other player in the league and ranked second for try assists (15).

Alun Wyn Jones is "monumental" for the British and Irish Lions, according to former South Africa wing Bryan Habana.

Jones, the most-capped player of all time with 157 international appearances across his career with Wales and the Lions, has made a remarkable comeback to return to the Lions' squad for their tour of South Africa.

The 35-year-old suffered a dislocated shoulder in a pre-tour match against Japan in Edinburgh and did not travel with Warren Gatland's squad and seemed unlikely to be able to feature in the three-match Test series against the Springboks.

Yet he has made a rapid recovery and will link up with the Lions ahead of Saturday's game with the Stormers.

Jones will be on the bench for that match, putting him firmly in contention for a start in the first Test against the reigning world champions on July 24.

Habana represented South Africa against the Lions in 2009, helping the Springboks to a series victory, and he believes Jones is not only an inspiration to Gatland's team, but to all athletes who aim to draw out their careers.

"It's monumental," Habana told Stats Perform. "All of under-40s, recently retired players, are sort of vicariously living through what he has become in terms of an iconic figure.

"It's astounding, mind-blowing, to think how far he's come over the course of the last 14-15 years since making his debut, that he's still able to produce efforts on a weekly basis that warrant not only his selection in the squad, but warrant his selection as captain of a prestigious side like the Lions.

 

"All of us around the world have an immense amount of respect for him. To go on and break Richie McCaw's Test cap record, but do it in a manner in which people still advocate for him being involved in the side, it tells you the status of the man.

 

"And I, having played the game, not remotely physically as close to what Alun has been doing in the forwards, just have a huge amount of respect for what he's achieved for the game, the manner in which he has played the game, but [also] the respect that he commands both from his own team-mates and from opposition."

The Lions perhaps missed Jones' leadership as they suffered their first defeat in eight matches on Wednesday.

A South Africa A side littered with 2019 World Cup winners won 17-13 in Cape Town, with the Lions losing for the first time in the city since 1980.

It was the lowest points tally the Lions have managed in a game since their 12-3 win over the Crusaders in the third match of their 2017 tour of New Zealand.


:: Join Land Rover's Lions' Adventure this summer at www.lionsadventure.com and follow @LandRoverRugby #LandRoverRugby

British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones will start on the bench against the Stormers on Saturday following his remarkable recovery from a dislocated shoulder.

Jones suffered the injury in a pre-tour match against Japan and was expected to miss the series against South Africa.

However, coach Warren Gatland confirmed at the start of the week that the most-capped player of all time was to be back in contention for the Lions when their three-Test series against the Springboks starts on July 24.

That will be two days shy of a month since sustaining the initial injury, though he could be in action even before that, highlighting the incredible nature of his recovery.

The Lions will face the Stormers in Cape Town, and while Stuart Hogg is to wear the armband after completing a period of isolation, Jones will be available from the bench.

Gatland said: "It's an important game as it's the final chance for the coaching group to see the players perform prior to the start of the Test series.

"For the matchday 23 it's their last opportunity to stake a claim for a Test place, so I expect to see a highly motivated group of players.

"It is particularly pleasing to be able to name Stuart Hogg in the squad. He's not had much luck on Lions tours to date, so it'll be great to see him cross the whitewash again with the captain's armband."

Robbie Henshaw comes into the midfield after shaking off a hamstring injury and Josh Adams returns after the birth of his daughter saw him ruled out of Wednesday's narrow defeat to South Africa A.

Marcus Smith, who recently won his first England cap, will debut at fly-half, and Gatland is particularly excited to see the Harlequins talent in action.

"I'm delighted that Marcus will get his first start in a Lions jersey," Gatland said. "I've been really impressed with his attitude since coming into camp this week; he's been like a sponge for information.

"Obviously it's a tight turnaround from Wednesday's game but we’re in pretty good shape. The South Africa 'A' game was a physical encounter – we always knew it would be – but we've come out of it pretty much intact and ready to go again."

Maro Itoje is looking forward to the competition Alun Wyn Jones will provide when he returns to the British and Irish Lions squad.

Jones, who was initially named as the tour captain, suffered a dislocated shoulder in a pre-tour match against Japan and was expected to miss the series against South Africa.

However, the most-capped player of all time will be back in contention for the Lions when their three-Test series against the Springboks starts on July 24.

England lock Itoje played and impressed on Wednesday, as the Lions failed to battle back against a South Africa A team littered with 2019 Rugby World Cup winners, suffering their first defeat in eight games in the process.

Though he will be competing with Jones for a place in Warren Gatland's team, Itoje is relishing the prospect of playing alongside the Wales star.

"He's a man of immeasurable experience, he is the most capped player in the history of rugby. He is going to add his experience, add his clout and add his edge," Itoje told Sky Sports.

"To be honest, I want the competition, I want the best team available and I want to compete. Those kind of decisions are not up to me, they're up to the man who gets paid the big bucks, Warren, so I'll leave that to him."

 

The Lions went down 17-13 in Cape Town, with their points tally their fewest in a match since a 12-3 win against the Crusaders in the 2017 tour of New Zealand.

Gatland's team came into the game having scored 50 points or more in three successive games – the first time they had managed such a run in their history. In fact, only on three previous tours have they scored a half-century of points in more than three games (1959, 1974, 1997).

Despite Wednesday's loss, Gatland is still confident his team can go on to defeat the world champions, who have played just one Test since beating England back in 2019.

"They came pretty hard at us in the first half. I was really pleased with the way we got back into the game and how strong we looked in the second half," the former Wales coach told Sky Sports.

"We stayed in the battle. That was the pleasing thing. The guys in the changing room are saying there is no reason why we can't win the series."

The British and Irish Lions suffered their first defeat of their tour of South Africa, going down 17-13 to a Springboks 'A' side in Cape Town.

Like in Saturday's win over the Sharks, Warren Gatland's team were defensively vulnerable in the first half on Wednesday and were duly punished by a South Africa A team littered with 2019 Rugby World Cup winners.

Indeed, two of those world champions scored South Africa A's tries, with Sbu Nkosi and Lukhanyo Am going over.

Wyn Jones' score early in the second half brought the Lions back into it, but they were unable to stop a seven-match unbeaten streak – their longest such run since a trail of 10 wins across the 1989 and 1993 tours – coming to an end.

South Africa A started as they meant to go on in the first half – Nkosi seeing what seemed a certain try denied by Anthony Watson, though Morne Steyn, who converted the decisive points in the Lions' 2009 series against the Springboks, then nosed the home team ahead with a penalty.

Nkosi got his try in the 12th minute, however, with the wing bursting down the field to dive over in the corner after Eben Etzebeth charged down Owen Farrell's kick.

Steyn added the extras and, after Farrell had hit a three-pointer for the tourists, the 37-year-old was on point with the boot again in the 33rd minute, this time converting Am's try.

Yellow cards for Faf de Klerk and Marco van Staden reduced South Africa A to 13 men before the interval, and the Lions made their numerical advantage count when Wyn Jones barged over four minutes after the restart.

It was Jones' last act, with the Wales international taken off as a precaution – Gatland having already lost Liam Williams to a head injury in the first half.

Farrell hit another penalty to further reduce the deficit, though Louis Rees-Zammit saw a try disallowed by TMO and then Steyn's perfect record was dashed when he punted a long-range effort wide.

Steyn also squandered a drop-goal attempt late on, yet the Lions failed to make him pay as they were dealt a first setback of their 2021 tour.

STEYN BACK WITH A BANG AS LIONS SUFFER RARE CAPE TOWN DEFEAT

Though his kicking was off in the second half, Steyn was clinical in the opening 40 minutes. His Springboks debut came against the Lions back in 2009 as he played in all three Tests, scoring 19 points and not missing a single place kick (seven of seven) during the series.

This was the first time the Lions have played at Cape Town Stadium, which was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, although they will be back for the first Test. It was only their second defeat in the city from their past 11 appearances there – that previous loss having come back in 1980.

CAPTAIN'S RETURN A BOOST

The Lions laboured against the Sharks on Saturday and, against a Test-standard side this time around, their vulnerabilities were exposed again in the first half. Even though they missed only five tackles, their fewest in a match since also missing five against the Brumbies in 2013 – another game in which they lost – they were too often caught out by the pace of their opposition.

Gatland's team improved after the break, but the remarkable return of Alun Wyn Jones cannot come soon enough. International rugby's most-capped player will be on his way to South Africa on Thursday, with Ireland's Ronan Kelleher also flying out.

Jones will be in contention for the first Test on July 24, while Josh Adams – who has impressed on the tour so far – will likely return for the Stormers game on Saturday, after missing Wednesday's outing to watch the birth of his first child on a video call.

The British and Irish Lions have been handed a huge boost with the news that captain Alun Wyn Jones will join their tour of South Africa – less than three weeks after he suffered a dislocated shoulder.

Jones, 35, sustained the injury during the Lions' warm-up game against Japan at Murrayfield on June 26, but he will fly into Cape Town on Thursday.

The veteran lock came through a training session with the Wales squad at their Vale of Glamorgan base this week before successfully undergoing a medical assessment.

"We are delighted to welcome Alun Wyn back," said head coach Warren Gatland. "It'll come as no surprise to anyone who knows Alun Wyn that since injuring his shoulder against Japan, he's done everything he can to get himself back.

"It's remarkable really when you consider it's just 18 days since he left us in Edinburgh.

"He's been training with the Wales squad at the Vale since last week and yesterday he had a proper hit out. Following assessment from the medical staff this morning we're satisfied he's fit to return.

"He's obviously raring to go and from what I've seen on video and the feedback we’ve received, he's certainly not been holding himself back in training. He was really getting stuck in yesterday.

"It’s a massive boost for the Lions to welcome a player of Alun Wyn's stature back."

Following high-scoring wins in their first three matches against franchise sides, the Lions face what is expected to be the toughest examination of their tour so far when they take on South Africa A in Cape Town on Wednesday.

France claimed their first away win over Australia for 31 years as they secured a nail-biting 28-26 victory in the second Test at AAMI Park.

Les Bleus let victory slip through their grasp in a dramatic finish in the first game between the nations in Brisbane last week.

Despite controlling much of Wednesday's contest in Melbourne, France risked suffering a similar fate and losing the series when Michael Hooper crossed in the 71st minute and Noah Lolesio then gave Australia their first lead of the match with a 40-metre penalty in the 75th minute.

But there was a final twist in the tale as France gained a penalty in the scrum and Melvyn Jaminet split the uprights to take his tally to 23 points and give his side a first triumph against the Wallabies in Australia since June 30, 1990.

The boot of Jaminet and Damian Penaud's first-half try had France ahead 16-13 at the interval, with Jake Gordon keeping the Wallabies in touching distance by going over from close range in the 38th minute.

Lolesio levelled matters at 16-16 six minutes after the restart but Jaminet's accuracy from the tee gave France a seemingly commanding nine-point lead, the tourists dictating matters despite a bruising performance from Marika Koroibete.

Koroibete gained 181 metres for the Wallabies, but it was their captain who looked to have turned the tide, Hooper scoring for the third successive game for the first time in his Australia career. Lolesio converted from out wide and then knocked over a long-range penalty.

Yet France were not to be denied this time around, an immense effort in the scrum allowing Jaminet to set up a decider back at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Alun Wyn Jones could yet feature for the British and Irish Lions in South Africa, having made a "remarkable" recovery from a dislocated shoulder.

The 35-year-old, who was set to captain Warren Gatland's touring party in South Africa, suffered the injury against Japan at the end of June but could still fly out on Tuesday, subject to medical confirmation.

The Lions face South Africa A, a side packed with 11 World Cup winners, on Wednesday and Gatland revealed in Monday's news conference that Jones could well return.

"A few weeks ago we didn't think there was an option," the Lions head coach said. "We're waiting for medical reports from him to see what happens with that.

"He's been back fully training with Wales – he's training this week with them. I think he's doing a double session with them tomorrow and we'll see what the outcome of that is."

Conor Murray, who is yet to start a game on tour for the Lions, came in to act as Jones' replacement in the captaincy role.

However, Gatland appreciates the invaluable role the Welshman could play if fit.

"He has made a remarkable recovery in terms of that injury, which wasn't as bad as they first thought," he added.

"It would be a boost to the squad having someone of his experience and calibre to come back into the squad."

Experience is exactly what Jones brings, as he represents the only member of the current touring squad to have faced the Springboks with the Lions previously, while also being the most-capped international of all time.

Having triumphed comfortably in the three pre-test matches against South African club sides the Lions and the Sharks, Gatland's team face South Africa A in what is being billed as an unofficial fourth test.

A subsequent fixture against DHL Stormers will follow before the three showpiece clashes with the Springboks get underway on the 24th July, by which time Gatland will be hoping Jones is fit.

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland is pleased to see so many players pushing for Test places after naming a much-changed team to face South Africa A.

The Lions have won all four warm-up matches so far ahead of the start of their three-match series with South Africa later this month, including back-to-back wins over the Sharks.

Gatland has made 12 alterations following the 71-31 victory over the Sharks on Saturday, with Anthony Watson, Chris Harris and Dan Biggar the only ones to be retained.

Watson moves from right wing to full-back and Harris will shift to outside centre to play alongside Bundee Aki, while Maro Itoje partners Iain Henderson in the second row after recovering from illness.

Wednesday's clash in Cape Town will be a proud occasion for tour captain Conor Murray, who will lead out the Lions for the first time.

Gatland has a number of big calls to make in terms of team selection for the opening game with world champions South Africa on July 24, with just two warm-up matches to go.

"We're pleased to have arrived in Cape Town as we near the halfway stage of the series," he said.

"Wednesday's game against South Africa A will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we're looking forward to it. 

"We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time.

"I think we've benefitted from playing at altitude in the first three games. While the boys have felt it in their lungs, they'll be all the better for it now we're at sea level.

"As we move towards the business end of the tour, it's pleasing to see so many players putting in some stand-out performances. 

"As coaches we want the players to make Test selection as hard as possible and that's what we're seeing."


Lions team to face South Africa A:

Anthony Watson, Louis Rees-Zammit, Chris Harris, Bundee Aki, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Conor Murray; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Iain Henderson, Josh Navidi, Tom Curry, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Zander Fagerson, Adam Beard, Tadhg Beirne, Sam Simmonds, Gareth Davies, Elliot Daly.

South Africa's preparations for their upcoming series against the British and Irish Lions have been dealt a blow after captain Siya Kolisi and five other players tested positive for coronavirus.

Dan Du Preez, Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni and Makazole Mapimpi have been forced into self-isolation alongside their skipper and three members of team management.

An SA Rugby statement read: "With the entire squad and management team confined to their rooms since Monday, the possibility of transmission through close contact has been mitigated."

Over 20 members of the Springboks' squad have now returned positive tests in the build-up to the three-match series, which is scheduled to begin on July 24.

That includes head coach Jacques Nienaber, who is unable to work with his players as he continues to self-isolate.

Instead, South Africa's director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is taking charge of training sessions for the remaining members of the squad.

Nienaber said: "We are delighted to be able to return to the field and resume our preparations for the Lions series.

"It has been a challenging week with the Test against Georgia on Friday night cancelled and the entire squad self-isolating for a few days as a preventative measure, so the players cannot wait to get back on the park.

"The Test against Georgia was important for us with an eye on preparing to face the Lions, but these are extraordinary times and we have to adapt as a team. I have to commend the players and management for that.

"We are a tight-knit coaching team and everyone takes responsibility in their respective roles. It is also great to have Rassie steering the ship while I am away.

"He has been part of the system for several years now and he guided most of these players to the World Cup title in 2019, so the team is in great hands."

Warren Gatland hopes the British and Irish Lions have seen off the worst of the chaos they might experience on their tour of South Africa after a turbulent week.

A case of COVID-19 in the Lions management has caused disruption, while the team were due to face the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, but the opposition had to pull out due to coronavirus cases within their own squad.

A spate of infections in the South Africa squad saw the Springboks' planned match against Georgia called off, but the Lions at least got a game, with the Sharks agreeing to face the tourists for the second time in four days.

The Lions had delivered a 54-7 thumping in Wednesday's first game, played at Ellis Park, but a shift in venue to Loftus Versfeld and wholesale personnel changes on each team led to a very different outcome on Saturday.

A 71-31 win for the Lions resulted from a game that was tied at 26-26 at half-time, with a red card for the Sharks' Jaden Hendrikse early in the second half transforming the momentum.

Coach Gatland was asked whether it was proving to be the most chaotic week of his career, and he said: "It probably is.

"If anything else happens on the tour that's as chaotic as you say this week has been, that would probably surprise me."

He admitted, however, that it was still unclear who the Lions' next opponents would be, with a game against South Africa A currently scheduled for the coming Wednesday, and a clash with the Stormers set for Saturday.

"I think there's a good chance they'll switch the Stormers and South Africa A games around, but nothing's been confirmed yet," Gatland said. "We've just got to go with the flow and react to whatever's thrown at us."

Gatland is hoping Finn Russell can recover from an Achilles injury to play a part later in the tour, although he appears unlikely to play in any matches before the three-Test series against the world champion Springboks begins on July 24 in Cape Town.

The Scotland fly-half is out of Gatland's immediate plans and England newcomer Marcus Smith has been called in to provide cover.

 

Russell had an injection on Saturday, said Gatland, describing the injury as "not a strained Achilles but a slight little tear".

"It's going to keep him out for the next couple of weeks," Gatland said. "He's going to be in a boot for the next five days and when he comes out of that he'll have some more treatment.

"If he makes good progress, we'll assess him going forward. If he's not, then there's a possibility he may go home. It's a wait-and-see situation with him."

Gatland felt the Lions had been messy with some of their play in the first half against the Sharks, which saw them concede four tries.

He said: "I think we caused a few of our own problems with some of the turnovers and a couple of interceptions and a couple of poor passes that allowed them in the game to put us under pressure.

"We were just a bit edgy and a bit untidy, particularly in the first half, which allowed them to stay in the game. We just need to make sure we're a bit more accurate and tidier and I thought we did that a lot better in the second half."

The British and Irish Lions continued to pile on the points on their tour of South Africa with what proved to be an emphatic, albeit not entirely convincing, 71-31 win over the Sharks.

There was no shortage of entertainment at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, with the Sharks more than holding their own until Jaden Hendrikse got himself sent off.

Indeed, the Lions conceded four tries in the first half – as many as they had allowed in total in their three previous games combined this year.

Yet Hendrikse's dismissal proved the turning point, with the Lions' quality shining through, though Warren Gatland – who on Saturday called up England new boy Marcus Smith due to an injury for Finn Russell – will be expecting better in defence as the Springboks series approaches.

Chris Harris skipped over for his first Lions try early on, with Dan Biggar adding the extras, but the Sharks hit back in style.

Elliot Daly's mistake resulted in Anthony Volmink charging in down the left, before Thaakir Abrahams latched onto Lionel Cronje's grubber. With a game on their hands, the Lions responded in turn – captain Jamie George going over at the culmination of a rolling maul.

The scoring did not let up, with Duhan van der Merwe dragging the Lions level again after Hendrikse had crossed at the other end.

Another Lions mistake gifted Volmink a second try, yet the Sharks' defence was equally as vulnerable and Tadhg Beirne bundled through to once more level the scores..

A moment of madness from Hendrikse soon gave the Lions an advantage, though. The Sharks scrum-half elbowed Liam Williams in the head as the full-back was tackled into touch, and after checking with the TMO, referee Wayne Barnes brandished a red card.

The Lions set about making their numerical superiority count – Jack Conan driving in before Daly extended the lead, only for Werner Kok to pounce on Conor Murray's blocked kick. However, George and Beirne doubled their tallies either side of Anthony Watson taking the Lions above 50, with Tom Curry running in their 10th try.

Murray's yellow ensured both sides would finish with 14 men, though Watson had the final say with a brilliant 50-metre break.


Sharks hold their own until Hendrikse blunder

It really was a ludicrous decision from Hendrikse, who had looked sharp in the first half, to lunge in on Williams.

The Sharks – who were thrashed 54-7 in midweek but stepped up to play the Lions again after the Bulls pulled out – presented a real challenge for the Lions before the break, but Hendrikse's rashness ultimately all-but gifted the tourists victory.

Smith stunned by late call

Harlequins fly-half Smith scored 18 points as England hammered Canada at Twickenham on Saturday, though he had little time to celebrate ahead of catching a flight out to South Africa to join up with Gatland's squad.

"I can't believe it," Smith told Channel 4. "They called me into the tunnel 10 minutes ago and I don't believe it – I was shaking, I still can't believe it, it's amazing.

"We were meant to go to the football [England v Italy in Sunday's Euro 2020 final] but I will be on the plane now. It won't sink in until I get back from the tour and I will have to pinch myself on the plane.”

Marcus Smith has been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad for their tour of South Africa, as Finn Russell struggles with an Achilles tendon injury.

Fly-half Smith, 22, helped Harlequins to the Premiership title this season and made his England debut against the United States last week.

He followed up his international bow with a superb showing in a 70-14 demolition of Canada on Saturday, kicking nine conversions.

After impressing at Twickenham, Smith – following coronavirus testing – will be heading to South Africa to join up with the Lions, who faced the Sharks on Saturday in their third match of the tour, with the three-Test series against the Springboks starting later this month.

And Gatland is excited to see what Smith can bring to his squad, with Russell likely to be out for several weeks.

"Finn Russell has been managing an Achilles injury he's had for a couple of weeks, but he's not going to be 100 per cent," Gatland explained.

"He's got a slight tear in his Achilles, they're going to inject it and see if they can manage it through the next couple of weeks, as a result we're going to call up Marcus Smith to come out here on Sunday.

"He'll catch a flight, needs to be PCR tested after the [England] game and hopefully all is well. He's been absolutely outstanding, I'm a big fan of his, watched him play last year, thought he was really promising, had a great season for Harlequins.

"He's been playing regularly, winning the championship with Harlequins, playing for England now and a similar player to Finn Russell so a like-for-like replacement in a lot of ways, so he might add something exciting and new to the squad."

Dane Coles came off the bench to score four second-half tries as New Zealand beat Fiji 57-23 at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

The All Blacks dished out a record-equalling 102-0 rout of Tonga last weekend, but they only led Fiji by 10 points at the break – the smallest half-time advantage they have had against a non-Tier One country in a Test on home soil.

David Havili claimed a quickfire double following an opening try from Jordie Barrett, but Albert Tuisue went over for Fiji and two Ben Volavola penalties made it 21-11 at the break.

George Bridge increased New Zealand's lead when he overlapped down the left wing to touch down, but Mesulame Kunavula touched down to reduce the deficit as Fiji put up a great battle.

Coles crossed following a lineout after Fiji full-back Kini Murimurivalu was sin-binned but the Pacific Islanders responded superbly once again, earning a penalty try which also resulted in Havili being shown a yellow card.

Hooker Coles, who was only introduced 10 minutes into the second half, then took centre stage with an incredible cameo, crossing twice in the space of nine minutes to complete his treble.

Coles was on hand to add a fourth try for good measure with the Fiji forwards overpowered after Will Jordan went in the right corner to score on a night that saw prop Ethan de Groot made his All Blacks debut.

The four-try haul from Coles was the most by any forward from a Tier One country in a Test since the start of 2011.

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