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Nine tries in Perth lay down the gauntlet in Australia

It was business as usual in Perth for the British & Irish Lions as they piled on the points as they ran in nine tries in a convincing opening win on Australian soil.

The Western Force were put to the sword as the Lions made it two big wins in a row. Full back Leigh Halfpenny ended the game with 24 points having converted all of the tries.

But the second successive victory of the tour came at a cost as Leinster and Ireland prop Cian Healy was carried off the field on a stretcher and went to hospital for an X-Ray on a suspected sprained ankle.

Acting skipper Brian O’Driscoll led the way with two tries on his return 12 years on to the city where he made his Lions debut and there were tries on starting debut for Johnny Sexton and Geoff Parling.

The only downside on the scoreboard was the fact the Force managed to score two tries of their own. But it was a fluid performance that would have pleased head coach Warren Gatland as a completely new starting XV picked up the baton from the Hong Kong side as they threw down the gauntlet to the Aussie teams they will face over the next month.

Halfpenny started the rout with the first of his 11 successful kicks on a night on which he simply couldn’t miss when he opened the scoring with a third minute penalty. By half-time the score had built to 27-3 as Sexton shimmied his way through the home defensive line to score at the posts, O’Driscoll crossed for his first score and Tom Croft rounded of the half with a try in the corner with the last move of the half.

Healy left the field after 37 minutes after injuring his left ankle and was replaced by Mako Vunipola. By the end of the second half Gatland had once again emptied his bench as he stayed true to his promise to give everyone a chance to impress in the early games on the tour.

That meant debuts off the bench for the England duo of Geoff Parling and Ben Youngs as they followed starting debutants Manu Tuilagi, Rory Best, Dan Cole, Ian Evans and Sean O’Brien.

The second half got off to a flying start when the outstanding No 8 Jamie Heaslip, who linked superbly well with Leinster clubmate O’Brien throughout the night, crashed over for the Lions’ fourth try two minutes after the re-start. After that it became a question of how many tries and points the Lions would pile on.

To their credit, the Force conjured up two tries in a lively second half, but the fact they missed 21 tackles in the first half and almost as many in the second. Former Wallaby No 8 Richard Brown bagged the first and then replacement back row man Lachlan McCaffrey got the second, both of which Brett Sheehan converted.

But the Lions finished off the Force with further tries from Vunipola, Tommy Bowe, O’Driscoll again and finally Parling crossed. Alun Wyn Jones picked up a late yellow card for an offence at the tackle area, but that came so late in the contest it didn’t matter.

Now the Lions move on to Brisbane to meet the 2011 Super Rugby champions the Queensland Reds on Saturday for their biggest challenge to date.

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