Mike Phillips leaves the Sharks defence for dead on his way to the try-line.
Huw Evans Agency
Lee Byrne and Mike Phillips put their hands up for test selection with try scoring displays at the Absa Stadium as the British and Irish Lions stuttered to a 39-3 victory over the Sharks in their fourth game of the tour.
Lions coach Ian McGeechan told the touring squad members the test side will be selected next Tuesday so time was running out to impress the brains trust. The Welsh duo of Phillips and Byrne both scored tries in the second half to pencil their names in while Jamies Roberts also impressed before going off with a shoulder injury.
All the early pressure was applied by the Lions but the Sharks held on by their finger tips. Roberts used his power and strength on a surging run in the 10th minute to put the Lions in a commanding attacking position. Jamie Heaslip sped to the try-line from the back of the scrum but was held up. The Lions then blew their chance when the next ball into the scrum was stolen by the Sharks who relieved the pressure.
In the 19th minute the Lions saw another golden opportunity wasted. Brian O'Driscoll intercepted a pass near his own 22m line and looked odds on to go all the way but replacement Lwazi Mvovo chased him down and nailed him five metres from the try-line. With the Lions infringing at the ruck, the Sharks were once again able to clear their line.
Eventually the total domination had to pay dividends. Mike Phillips dummied his way close to the line to set up hooker Lee Mears who burrowed his way over. O'Gara converted to give the tourists a deserved 7-0 lead.
The Lions were penalised for taking down a scrum and Sharks scrum half Rory Kockott made them pay with a well struck penalty on the half hour mark.
The Sharks defence continued to take a hammering but heroic defence by second row Steven Sykes denied Byrne and a knock-on by Shane Williams prevented the Ospreys full-back from claiming a five pointer only moments later.
The Sharks may have been missing nine of their 10 Springboks, but coach John Plumtree would have been a happy man at halftime, with his side still in contention, just 3-7 down.
However he would have not have been so happy immediately after the break when Phillips produced a dazzling run to score wide out to give the Lions the perfect re-start.
The Sharks had a chance to reduce the arrears when Paul O'Connell was penalised at the tackle area but Kockott's long range penalty fell inches short of the cross bar. That was to be the closest the home side would come to scoring in the second half.
O'Gara nudged the Lions further ahead with two short range penalties as the tourists attempted to raise the tempo.
Luke Fitzgerald, who looked dangerous every time he touched the ball, finished off a rapid-fire move from the Lions in the 60th minute.
Ferris, Byrne and then O'Driscoll combined to send the Irish speedster over. With O'Gara's conversion, the Lions suddenly looked comfortable at 25-3.
Byrne then took advantage of O'Driscoll's pass which gave him some room to move and the Ospreys full back flew down the touchline. He bamboozled his former team mate Stefan Terblanche close to the try-line and touched down emphatically.
In the dying stages both teams finished the game a man down with Lions replacement prop Phil Vickery and Sharks No8 Keegan Daniel seeing yellow but the Lions were able to surpass their previous highest score against the Sharks with a try by the impressive Heaslip right on full-time to send the Lions into their next game still unbeaten.
Scorers: Sharks: Pen - Kockott. Lions: Tries - Mears, Phillips, Fitzgerald, Byrne, Heaslip; Cons - O'Gara (3), Hook.; Pens - O'Gara (2)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.