Adams, Van der Merwe score three tries each as Lions crush Sharks

·3-min read
British and Irish Lions wing Duhan van der Merwe (R) celebrates after scoring his second try in a 54-7 victory over the Sharks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg

Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe scored three tries each as the British and Irish Lions crushed the Sharks 54-7 in Johannesburg on Wednesday for a second win on their South African tour.

The South African franchise lacked nine stars on Springbok duty and, after trailing 26-0 at half-time, collapsed in the closing stages to allow the tourists several soft scores.

Lions coach Warren Gatland expressed concern about the strength of pre-Test opposition after a 42-point demolition of the Johannesburg-based Lions last Saturday.

The Sharks, who were expected to be tougher opponents despite a depleted team, proved even weaker and the visitors scored at will in the closing stages behind closed doors because of the coronavirus.

The match kicked off at the end of a dramatic day in which all the Lions had to have unscheduled Covid-19 tests after one staff member and one player tested positive.

It led to eight late changes -- four in the run-on team and four among the replacements with seven forwards and no reserve scrum-half on the bench.

"Coming into the game there were a lot of unknowns, whether the game was going to happen or not," said Lions skipper and lock Iain Henderson.

"A lot of guys have individual matchday routines. We only found out half an hour before we left the hotel that the game was going to go ahead so the guys did not have a lot of time to warm up."

South Africa-born Van der Merwe said: "The Sharks were very physical. We got 50 points on them but they came hard at us. It is amazing to be back (in South Africa) playing for the Lions."

Quick out of the blocks when they crushed the Johannesburg-based Lions last weekend, the Lions repeated the feat against the Sharks, building a 14-point advantage within eight minutes.

- No surprise -

The scorer of the first try came as no surprise with full-back Adams striking after three minutes to add to the four he notched last Saturday.

Four minutes later, the visitors struck again with Van der Merwe, the leading 2021 Six Nations Championship try scorer, crossing the line.

The Sharks were good at times, but lacked the clinical finishing of the tourists when the 22-metre line came in sight.

Full-back Manie Libbok wasted the best chance when he failed to catch a pass from wing Werner Kok, who burst deep into Lions' territory.

Former national sevens team star Kok did his team no favours when he committed a 'professional' foul midway through the half and was sin-binned.

Surprisingly, the Lions added only five points with a numerical advantage, as Van der Merwe pounced on a superb grubber kick from fly-half Owen Farrell to score.

Bundee Aki, the New Zealand-born Ireland centre, resembled a tight-five forward as he barged over for a fourth Lions try just before half-time.

Farrell slotted three conversions and his failure to added the extra points to the third try was his first miss at goal on tour after 10 successes.

After the Sharks finally got on the scoreboard with a try by flanker James Venter that fly-half Curwin Bosch converted, normal service was resumed with two converted Lions tries that gave them a 40-7 lead.

Adams got the first and wing Louis Rees-Zammit the second to ensure that the tourists would maintain a perfect record on tour, albeit against weak franchise opposition.

The longer the second half continued, the easier the Lions found it to score and Van der Merwe and Adams helped themselves to their third tries. Replacement Finn Russell kicked four second-half conversions.

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