British and Irish Lions: Aussie backline disruption

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Australia’s backline suffered massive disruption during the first Test against the British and Irish Lions with four players forced off during the touring side’s 23-21 victory.

Inside centre Christian Leali’ifano was taken off just 54 seconds into his Wallabies debut after picking up a head injury.

Leali’ifano was fitted with a neck brace and left the field at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on a stretcher after getting hurt while making a low tackle on Lions centre Jonathan Davies. He was replaced by Pat McCabe, who himself departed in the 47th minute after also picking up a head injury at a ruck.

McCabe was replaced by flanker Liam Gill with Michael Hooper, who started as the openside for the Wallabies, switching to centre.

The Wallabies also lost full-back Berrick Barnes to a similar injury a minute before half-time when he came off worst in a collision with his team-mate Israel Folau.

Lions winger George North pushed Folau in the back as the Wallabies winger picked up the ball and crashed into Barnes by the sideline. Barnes also left the field in a neck brace and was replaced by Kurtley Beale.

Leali’ifano made a quick recovery and watched the rest of the match from the sidelines. An Australian Rugby Union spokesman said the ACT Brumbies centre wanted to go back on but was kept off as a precaution.

Leali’ifano had been due to kick penalties and conversions for the Wallabies. Barnes was also a goal-kicking option and Beale missed two penalties in the last ten minutes which could have snatched victory for the Australians.

Wallabies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper was also forced off with a shoulder injury in the closing stages.

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