The British and Irish Lions kicked off their 2013 tour of Hong Kong and Australia with a commanding 59-8 victory over the Barbarians in sweltering conditions.
Warren Gatland’s men were expected to open their tour with a win against a Barbarians team who were coming off a disappointing loss against England the previous week.
Gatland selected a starting line up that included nine of his Welsh charges and excluded the recent arrivals from Leicester and Leinster.
Paul O’Connell led the team into battle after tour captain Sam Warburton was left out due to a knee injury and the Irishman played with the spirit that is expected from wearing the famous red shirt.
O’Connell scored the opening try from a metre out after man of the match Mike Phillips broke free from the 22 metre line only to be held short by Barbarian prop Castrogiovanni.
Owen Farrell started at fly half with Sexton settling for a place on the bench but the England player played like a man under pressure and was the biggest victim of the conditions.
Time and time again the ball slipped out of the 21-year old's hands with worrying consistently. Schalk Brits tried to knock the nerves out of Farrell after the Saracen teammates clashed in the first half with Brits receiving a yellow card for his unwarranted punch.
Phillips is one of the world’s best scrum halves and he displayed his physical running style on numerous occasions and ended the evening with two tries to his name.
His replacement Conor Murray continued in the same vein as Phillips and will have impressed the coaching staff with the combination play between himself and Jonathan Sexton.
Sexton struggled with boot on occasions but his play with ball in hand was a significant improvement on the upstaged Farrell.
The Barbarians only try came through a tremendous breakaway run from New Zealand wing Joe Rokocoko as he left Toby Faletau in his wake after a deadly sidestep before offloading to Fotuali’i who scampered across the line.
Jamie Roberts looks to have resumed his form from the 2009 tour as he went over the game line with ease and his partnership with Davies will give fellow centres Brian O’Driscoll and Manu Tuilagi something to think about before they go to sleep tonight.
Welsh wing Alex Cuthbert crossed the try line twice and will have impressed Gatland and his staff with his clinical finishing. The same cannot be said for Scotland win Sean Maitland who was unable to finish off a tempting grubber kick in the first half.
Dan Lydiate, Alun Wyn Jones and Jonathan Davies rounded off the try scorers meaning seven out of the eight tries were scored by a Welshman.
The standout performers from a Lions point of view were Phillips, Cuthbert, O’Connell and Roberts while players such as Farrell, Vunipola and Maitland did very little to guarantee themselves a starting spot against Australia.
It was a solid start for the Lions but the conditions will be the least of their worries when they meet the Wallabies in a few weeks time.