MELBOURNE (AFP) – The British and Irish Lions maintained their momentum ahead of Saturday's second Test with a comprehensive 35-0 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on Tuesday.
The mid-week team scored five tries and five conversions in outclassing the Australian Super Rugby outfit to keep the tourists on a high ahead of their potentially decisive Test match against the Wallabies.
The Lions won last weekend's opening Test 23-21 in Brisbane and can clinch their first series in 16 years with victory over the Wallabies this weekend.
It was the Lions 100th tour win in Australia and the result was never in doubt after leading 14-0 at halftime and powering on with another three converted tries in the second half.
Several Lions players pressed their claims for a place in this weekend's match with Irish flanker Sean O'Brien scoring a try and impressing in his 55 minutes on the field before he was replaced.
Tries were also scored by Conor Murray, Sean Maitland and Ben Youngs, along with a penalty try, while Owen Farrell kicked three conversions and Stuart Hogg two.
The under-strength Rebels were missing their three Wallabies, James O'Connor, Kurtley Beale and Nick Phipps, while Scott Higginbotham was out injured.
The Lions dominated the opening stages and Ireland scrumhalf Murray scored off a scrum push in the 16th minute with Farrell converting for a 7-0 lead.
England centre Manu Tuilagi, making his first appearance on tour since injuring his shoulder against the Queensland Reds on June 8, charged through a couple of tackles before Maitland and Toby Faletau took play close to the Rebels' try-line.
From the next ruck, winger Simon Zebo was first receiver and put Maitland over wide out for the winger's first try for the Lions whilst Farrell's conversion made it 14-0 after 28 minutes.
But the Rebels finished the opening half the stronger and had a couple of scoring opportunities as their Welsh skipper Gareth Delve elected to keep the pressure up with lineouts.
But the Lions denied the Rebels by winning two of their lineouts in the final minutes to weather the storm.
Despite their dominance it was a mistake-riddled opening half with Lions' players dropping the ball nine times and losing three lineouts.
The British and Irish team would also not have pleased coach Warren Gatland with 14 missed tackles.
Irish openside flanker O'Brien was treated for a neck injury after coming off worse in a tackle on Ged Robinson, but was over for a try shortly afterwards.
The Lions executed a well-worked move off a lineout win with skipper Dan Lydiate putting O'Brien over in the 50th for a converted try and a 21-0 lead.
O'Brien was brought off minutes later among four tactical replacements made by coach Gatland ahead of Saturday's second Test.
New Zealand referee Glen Jackson awarded the Lions a penalty try and sent replacement number eight Jordy Reid to the sin bin for bringing down a rolling maul close to the Rebels' try-line for a 28-0 lead.
Ben Youngs, a replacement for Murray, darted over from a lineout win, beating two tackles, to score under the crossbar with seven minutes left to stretch the tourists' advantage to 35-0.