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Lions record 4th-straight win

THE British and Irish Lions scored five tries without reply to beat the South Africa's Sharks 39-3 in Durban on Wednesday and record their fourth tour victory in a row.

Hooker Lee Mears, scrumhalf Mike Phillips, winger Luke Fitzgerald, fullback Lee Byrne and backrower James Heaslip all crossed the line, with Ronan O'Gara kicking five of six attempts.

The Lions rarely let the hosts close to their own line, but if Ian McGeechan's team had shown more composure close to the Sharks' line the result would have been far more emphatic.

Still, the performance was far more solid than Saturday's shaky 26-24 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Wednesday's result was the first time the Lions had not allowed a try on tour after conceding three in their 37-25 victory over a Royal XV, one when beating the Golden Lions 74-10 and three against the Cheetahs.

McGeechan was more buoyant about the performance than after the 10-try crushing of the Golden Lions - even though it was scoreless after the first 20 minutes.

"I'm very pleased," said the Scot, whose team is 10 days away from the first of three tests against world champion South Africa. "Very strong discipline, patience and very pleased that it was right through the 80 minutes. It was a very strong performance.

"I thought we didn't panic, we were just building a performance tonight and reaped the benefits in the second half. Our defense was outstanding, absolutely superb."

Lose patience

Captain Paul O'Connell, starting his third game on tour, said the team didn't lose patience when things were not going right in the first 20 minutes.

"If we didn't trust each other, it would have been very easy for the team to get frustrated out there," he said. "We had a lot of possession and territory and we weren't converting it into points. It was a very good sign that we stayed very patient with each other, very relaxed with each other and stayed on the job and that was a big step forward for us."

The only sour note was a yellow card for replacement prop Phil Vickery for illegal use of the boot in the 77th minute.

The Sharks then lost Keegan Daniel to the sinbin for tripping Shane Williams off the ball.

The game was played before another disappointing crowd of 21,530 at the 50,000-capacity Kings Park Stadium, known locally as the Shark tank, where members of the current Springbok squad were in the crowd to take a first look at their opponents.


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