British & Irish Lions player ratings vs South Africa A | 2021 Lions series
The British & Irish Lions player ratings, brought to you by The Famous Grouse
Hours before kick-off, the Lions broke the news that they would be flying in original tour captain, Alun Wyn Jones, after a miracle recovery from a dislocated shoulder. It felt like it was the boost this Lions team needed after effectively been caught off guard by South Africa A selection that effectively made this an official ‘fourth Test’.
And what a wake-up call it proved to be for Gatland’s side, who have suffered their first defeat of the tour.
BRITISH & IRISH PLAYER RATING:
15. ANTHONY WATSON – 7.5
Brilliant try saver on Nkosi, sparing the Lions’ blushes. Was easily the Lions’ most potent attacking threat out wide.
14. LOUIS REES-ZAMMIT – 7
A confident early mark was followed up by an ugly shank into touch under pressure from Kolbe. Just about survived the first half defending Kolbe and struck his own blows against the little magician in the second.
13. CHRIS HARRIS – 5.5
Kolbe can make a fool of the best defender and it was Harris’ turn today. Grew into the contest in the second half with positive contributions, even if the Lions felt particularly blunt in the midfield.
12. BUNDEE AKI – 5.5
Won an early turnover after a crunching midfield double hit and gave a fine account of himself defensively. Part of 9-10-12-13 axis that just didn’t really worry the South Africans, with the Lions ultimately reverting more and more to the boot as the game wore on.
11. LIAM WILLIAMS – NA
Shipped a big shot early on from Eben [which somehow wasn’t reviewed] and he didn’t return from his HIA.
10. OWEN FARRELL – 5
A late call-up for Biggar, who picked up an ankle sprain. A poor decision to chip over the giant arm span of Eben Etzebeth off bad ball. Chasing the game after that, opting for percentage kicks when it became apparent that the Lions weren’t capable of making meaningful headway through the hands. It wasn’t all bad for Farrell but he looks like a player that’s lost his self-confidence and it’s affecting his execution.
9. CONOR MURRAY – 5
Understandably miss fired early with Farrell. His box kicking was all over the shop in the first half and he was thoroughly outplayed by Faf de Klerk, who seemed to be operating on 1.5x speed when compared with the Munsterman. Murray living on credit in the bank at this stage.
1. WYN JONES – 8
Won an early penalty off the Springboks in their first major scrum tussle and was into Trevor Nyakane after that. Got over for his first Lions’ try after three attempts, although he injured himself in the process.
2. KEN OWENS – 6
Made it his business win back a ball off Mostert after the lock turned him over 10 metres out from the Springbok line. One of a number of Lions’ pick-and-go merchants who couldn’t outmuscle the Boks.
3. KYLE SINCKLER – 6.5
Kitshoff versus Sinckler was box office for scrum nerds and it was a pretty even battle. Kept quiet in the loose.
4. MARO ITOJE – 8
Was all over the opposition lineout and was a persistent nuisance in the tight. Had no less than four turnovers to his name after 80 minutes. As a unit though, the contest went to Etzebeth and co on points, who just about edged the rough stuff.
5. IAIN HENDERSON – 6.5
A workmanlike performance from the Ulstermen, who failed to show his prowess in attack. His talents were needed at the coalface in what was a next level physical encounter.
6. JOSH NAVIDI – 6
A quiet first half, where his only major involvement was coming up short trying to breach the South Africa A try-line defence. Busy but struggled to make a dent.
7. TOM CURRY – 8
An impressive burst up the pitch in the opening minutes set the tone for the Sharks’ flanker. Was the Lions’ most effective ball carrier, even if he looked a little too eager at times to force the offload. His charge down of Faf summed up a powerful outing.
8. TAULUPE FALETAU – 7.5
A big-game player, the redoubtable Faletau took the game to the South Africans with his carrying. Subbed after 50 minutes. Presumably an injury concern.
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