Saturday, 10 July 2021 19:55

Staff Reporter.

The British and Irish Lions pulled through their toughest test so far as they overcame a committed Sharks side and their own errors to claim victory.

The Sharks, who lost 54-7 to the Lions three days earlier, were level 26-26 at the break with three of their tries coming from mistakes by the tourists.

But scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse's 45th-minute red card for a cheap shot elbow to Liam Williams' head swung the game.

The Lions piled on the points with wing Anthony Watson scoring two of 11 tries.

Despite the Sharks managing to score a fifth try, they ran out of steam as the Lions ran in a further seven tries for a convincing win that was shaping up to be their toughest test of the series so far.

Flanker Tadhg Beirne and hooker Jamie George, captaining the side, also crossed twice with close-range efforts.

The Lions polished up the scoreline as they ran in seven second-half tries against the depleted Sharks, but Warren Gatland will know his side helped keep their youthful and physical opposition in the contest in a slack first-half display.

Three of the Cape Town side's four first-half tries came from individual errors from the Lions.

Full-back Anthony Volmink strolled in after Elliot Daly, impressive so far on the tour, spilled a ball under little pressure and then capitalised when Dan Biggar's pass to Van der Merwe went to ground.

Hendrikse intercepted a sloppy pass from opposite number nine Gareth Davies to run the length of the field and make it 26-19 to the Sharks within sight of half-time.

The Lions seemed to be feeling the effects of a week severely disrupted by a Covid outbreak in their camp, but were handed a crucial advantage when the lively Hendrikse boiled over in a touchline skirmish.

The scrum-half needlessly dived in as Williams was dragged out of play, planting his elbow on the Wales full-back's head.

It was more nuisance than violence, but English referee Wayne Barnes had no choice but to show red - and all but end the game as a contest.

Fly-half Finn Russell may be forced home from the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa with an Achilles tear, says head coach Warren Gatland.

The Scotland international, 28, will be unavailable until the start of the three-Test series on 24 July at best.

Meanwhile Newcastle duo Adam Radwan and Jamie Blamire both scored hat-tricks as England racked up 10 tries to thrash Canada at Twickenham.

Wing Radwan showed his electric pace to make a big impression on his debut, while hooker Blamire demonstrated his scoring prowess from close range.

Joe Cokanasiga added two tries while man of the match Ellis Genge and a penalty try completed England's 10.

Marcus Smith kicked nine conversions as England finished their season in style.

Elsewhere replacement fly-half Jarrod Evans missed a last-gasp penalty as Wales drew with Argentina, who were reduced to 14 men, for the first time.

Pumas full-back Juan Cruz Mallia was shown a red card after 29 minutes for a reckless tackle on Kieran Hardy.

The Pumas were trailing 6-3 at the time, but rallied through tries from Pablo Matera and Jeronimo de la Fuente, and the boot of Nicolas Sanchez.

Tries from Will Rowlands and Tomos Williams helped Wales level the scores.

Evans lined up the long-range effort in the final minute, but it went wide. Argentina had earlier missed three penalty attempts in a match watched by 7,828 supporters.

The two sides will meet in the second Test in Cardiff next Saturday (15:00 BST).