Leicester Tigers flanker Croft, who was on the mark in the victory over Western Force earlier in the tour, raced 30m and held off the attentions of Tom Kingston to score the Lions’ fourth of five tries in Sydney.
It was Croft’s fifth try in the famous Lions colours after he scored three tries on the tour to South Africa four years ago.
Croft’s Tigers teammate Tom Youngs started the game, playing almost an hour with Croft before the Lions unloaded their bench. It gave their Tigers teammates Dan Cole, Geoff Parling and Ben Youngs 20 minutes from the bench as they replaced Dam Jones, Paul O’Connell and Mike Phillips respectively.
Fly-half Johnny Sexton had got the ball rolling for the Lions with a try in the sixth minute. Full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who had already landed a long-distance penalty, added the conversion to put the Lions 10-0 ahead.
The tourists weathered a Tom Carter try, converted by Brendan McKibbin, with Halfpenny adding two more penalties to take him past 50 points for the tour. McKibbin landed a penalty of his own before the Lions had the final word of the half when Halfpenny profited from an overlap to score on the right. Halfpenny converted his own try to give the Lions a 23-10 half-time lead.
Halfpenny raced onto Jonathan Davies’ pass to cross for a second time four minutes after the restart and then added the conversion.
The Waratahs responded with a second try for Carter off the back of a lineout, which McKibbin converted.
Halfpenny kept the ball rolling with another penalty before Croft made the most of a Jonathan Davies interception to score his try. Halfpenny enjoyed a 100 per cent record with the boot, landed the conversion to help himself to a record 30 points for the Lions in a tour game in Australia, four more than Ronan O’Gara against Western Australia in Perth in 2001.
The Lions weren’t done yet as Davies ran in unopposed from 40m for the fifth and final try, which was converted by replacement fly-half Owen Farrell.