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Fearless Lions maul Sharks to fire stern Test warning

<strong>NATAL SHARKS</strong> (3) vs. <strong>BRITISH LIONS</strong> (39)<br /><br />JUBILANT captain Paul O&rsquo;Connell hailed his British Lions side for their best performance of the tour so far as they ran in a comfortable five-try victory over a stubborn Sharks side.<br /><br />The tourists led only 7-3 after a watertight opening half but turned on the style in the second with a rampant display to send shockwaves through the South African Test side.<br /><br />Spurred on by the dominant Welsh trio of centre Jamie Roberts, full-back Lee Byrne and scrum-half Mike Phillips, the Lions looked a far more cohesive unit and earned deserved praise from captain O&rsquo;Connell, who was particularly pleased at keeping the Sharks try-less as they prepare for the first Test against the world champions in nine days time.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think a lot of things came together,&rdquo; the Irishman said. &ldquo;We looked a lot more like a team than we have done in the last few weeks.<br /><br />&ldquo;One of the biggest things is the defence, we&rsquo;ve got four defensive systems trying to come together and play under one system and it came together well. They had a lot of the ball there at the end and everyone looked very comfortable defending together.&rdquo;<br /><br />Coach Ian McGeechan was also satisfied with the night&rsquo;s work, singling out the defence for an &lsquo;outstanding&rsquo; display. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m very pleased,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Very strong discipline, patience and I am very pleased that it was right through the 80 minutes. I thought we didn&rsquo;t panic, we were just building a performance and reaped the benefits in the second half. Our defence was outstanding, absolutely superb.&rdquo;<br /><br />England hooker Lee Mears set the ball rolling with the only try of a disappointing first half, converted by Ronan O&rsquo;Gara, while the Sharks replied with a penalty from Rory Kockott.<br /><br />The Lions, however, improved after the break with Phillips finishing off a well-worked try before Luke Fitzgerald added a third. Byrne then touched down for a fine solo effort before Jamie Heaslip completed the scoring with a fifth try in the dying seconds.