The Lions kick off their 2021 tour roaring as they secure a 28-10 win over Japan at a high cost

The bittersweet 28-10 victory of the British and Irish Lions over Japan played in the Scottish capital was taken at a high cost of the Welsh duo Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric. 

Although the Wales forward Tipuric came off inside the opening 21 minutes it was the alarming injury suffered by the Lions captain Jones within the first 7 that caused the greatest unease.

With a ruck clear-out causing the damage of a dislocated shoulder the previous captain, whom being 35 is unlikely to tour again, has been ruled out of the upcoming Lions tour on the eve of their departure to South Africa and Conor Murray has been swiftly called up by Gatland as new tour Captain.

Despite Tipuric's afternoon also being ended abruptly, the Lions had a dominant and rousing start to the tour through tries by Josh Adams, Duhan Van Der Merwe and Robbie Henshaw with Dan Biggar converting them to amass a 21-0 lead at half-time.

Japan was slipping off tackles and easily defeated at collisions thus inviting pressure onto themselves as Duhan van der Merwe continued to make indentations. The opponents outlook was bleak when half-time arrived.

Tadgh Beirne touched down in the second half as the Lions continued to outmuscle and outperform their opponents as Lawes had his try disallowed for failure to ground the ball properly.

Although attack coach Gregor Townsend labelled Japan as the most dangerous opening opponents to face the Lions, the team that played on Saturday afternoon were a poor resemblance of the side that captivated at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Although some rustiness was to be expected at their first outing since, the team that eventually met its match against South Africa in the quarterfinals was nowhere to be seen as performance was well below par.

With 2 Scots already out this week the 26-man squad was already strained before the match had begun and a flat second half made its appearance.

The Saracens duo of George and Farrell were relatively anonymous and made no impact in the second half. This high-energy change was perhaps emphasised in the weak performance of Faletau that came on to replace Conan. The questions of why Conan, who had a slight hamstring problem before the game, was starting were put to rest as his replacement 8 Faletau’s game started and ended with little to no positives.

Perhaps Gatland wanted the Lions to work on defence as the 14-man squads performance began to dwindle in the second half and brakes seemed to be placed on the attack that rampaged the first half.

Other questions can be asked of the referee of the match. With this fixture being his final test as a referee France’s Pascal Gauzere calls were doubtful and misses plentiful. Numerous forward passes on both sides of the pitch were lost to Gauzere, perhaps the ref was refereeing in a collegiate spirit but the casual shrug off of the highly questionable tackle against Williams was a stark contrast to the in depth TMO analysis’ given in the matches of this year’s Six Nations tournament.

A clear positive of the Saturday match came from Sinckler, who gave a massive contrast to Faletau, Farrell and George coming off the bench. After being left out of the Lions tour, he was called up when Ireland prop Andrew Porter was ruled out after sustaining an injury. Sinckler came off the bench raring and made a brilliant impact on the game, clearly eager to show that he will no longer be overlooked and is worthy of being on the 2021 Lions Tour.

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