British & Irish Lions 28-10 Japan: Alun Wyn Jones' injury mars comfortable victory at Murrayfield
Every match from the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa will be exclusively live on Sky Sports; fans who don't have Sky will be able to catch all the action via streaming service NOW TV, which offers day and month passes
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 26/06/21 10:30pm
The British & Irish Lions eased to a 28-10 victory over Japan at Murrayfield, but it was not all good news for Warren Gatland as captain Alun Wyn Jones left the field early on with a tour-ending shoulder injury.
Jones clutched his arm as he departed with just seven minutes on the clock, appearing to pick up the injury as he was cleared out at a ruck while trying to poach the ball. The second rower was closely followed by Justin Tipuric, who was hurt in a tackle and replaced by Taulupe Faletau with a quarter of the match played.
Gatland confirmed post-match that Jones had suffered a dislocated shoulder and would be returning to Wales.
Jones' injury spoiled what was an otherwise pleasing day for the Lions, who were 21 points ahead in as many minutes thanks to tries from Josh Adams, Duhan van der Merwe and Robbie Henshaw, with all three converted by Dan Biggar whose accurate kicking out of hand matched his efforts from the tee.
Tadhg Beirne added the Lions' only other try eight minutes after half-time, with Kazuki Himeno responding on the hour mark for the visitors and Yu Tamura converting before adding a penalty.
Adams was the first to score for the home side, stepping inside the cover defence from close range to dive over in the right-hand corner and give the restricted crowd a reason to cheer after Jones' enforced departure.
Van der Merwe then went over in a similar spot, coasting down the touchline untouched after darting blindside from an unmanned ruck, an intercept from Henshaw setting up the score after Japan were threatening on attack.
And Henshaw was over shortly thereafter for a try of his own, taking a short pass from Ireland team-mate Conor Murray from an attacking lineout as the Lions raced to an early 21-0 lead.
But the Lions were unable to add to their score in the first half, and the second started with two spurned chances as Liam Williams knocked on with the line begging and Jones' replacement Courtney Lawes lost control in the act of placing the ball on the line.
Beirne was not to be denied, however, taking a flat pass from Biggar in midfield and sprinting through a gap to score under the posts and make it 28-0 following the conversion.
Japan were finally on the board with 20 minutes remaining, Himeno peeling off the back of a lineout and carried over the line by the momentum of a good leg drive. Yu Tamura converted, and added a penalty soon thereafter which did little to affect the outcome as the home side closed the game out with ease.
In all it was a solid defensive performance from the Lions in their first outing of 2021, and Biggar's tactical kicking in particular impressed, but Gatland will want to see his side more clinical with the ball during their upcoming tour of South Africa.
What's next for the Lions?
The Lions will now head to Johannesburg to begin their tour of South Africa. Gatland's side will play the four franchises that have been added to the newly-formed United Rugby Championship which has replaced the PRO14 - the Lions, Sharks, Bulls and Stormers.
They will also play South Africa 'A', a fixture they drew during their 2009 tour, before taking on the world champion Springboks in a three-Test series.
The Boks have not taken the field as a team since the 2019 World Cup final, but will play two warm-up Tests against Georgia on July 2 and July 9 as preparation for the Lions.
All eight games of the Lions tour of South Africa, as well as the Springboks' Tests against Georgia, will be live on Sky Sports.
Lions tour fixtures in South Africa
• Saturday July 3: Emirates Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
• Wednesday July 7: Cell C Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
• Saturday July 10: Vodacom Bulls v The British & Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
• Wednesday July 14: South Africa 'A' v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
• Saturday July 17: DHL Stormers v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
• Saturday July 24: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
• Saturday July 31: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (FNB Stadium, Johannesburg)
• Saturday Aug 7: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (FNB Stadium, Johannesburg)