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British & Irish Lions player ratings vs Springboks | First Test

By Ian Cameron

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The British & Irish Lions player ratings, brought to you by The Famous Grouse

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Loosehead Wyn Jones was pulled out of the team after injuring a shoulder and Rory Sutherland was promoted from the bench.

It was a tense Test match that delivered on physicality but failed in the spectacle department.

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BRITISH & IRISH LIONS PLAYER RATINGS:
15. STUART HOGG – 6.5
Broke even. Kicked smartly and beat defenders for fun in the opening minutes, but struggled with the greasy surface tracking back. The Lions looked at sea when the Boks kicked in behind and Hogg played a key role in the Lions Key Stone Cops routine that nearly gifted them a late try.

14. ANTHONY WATSON – 7
Again, set off alarm bells in the South African defence whenever he had the ball. Often left trying to make something from nothing, such was the dearth of attacking platform afforded to him by the Lions’ game plan.

13. ELLIOT DALY – 5
Got a welcome to Cape Town hit by Lykanyo Am and had to be peeled off the floor. Pinged for not releasing when directed by the ref and came up short with a 50 metre Hail Mary penalty kick. He’s mixed the sublime with the ridiculous on this tour, but this was more the latter. Gatland’s gamble at 13 didn’t pay off.

12. ROBBIE HENSHAW – 6.5
Struggled alongside Daly to make the gainline in the first quarter, with the Boks winning the battle of the blitz. A line break foiled by a superb Willie Le Roux tackle was his major contribution to the game but he grew into the second half and involved in plenty of hand-to-hand combat.

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11. DUHAN VAN DER MERWE – 8.5
Very nearly had the perfect start from a Dan Biggar Garry Owen, leaping above Kolbe to very nearly take a ball with the try line begging. It was billed as DVDM surviving against the smaller, nippier man, but if anything it was Kolbe who had his hands full. A star is well and truly born.

10. DAN BIGGAR – 7
Mixed his kicking well in the first half in the context of the Lions’ booting the leather off the ball. His usual metronomic accuracy deserted him at times –  his missed kick in the 35th minute hurt. Found his groove in a brighter second half, before a HIA saw him removed.

9. ALI PRICE – 7.5
Don’t listen to the detractors, this was a very solid outing from Price. As the Lions began to rely on his box kicking, so they came back into the match.

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1. RORY SUTHERLAND – 7
A late call-up to starting XV, Ox Nche got the better of him in opening scrum exchanges, but Sutherland and the Lions started to turn the tide as the game wore on. The scatty service didn’t help.

2. LUKE COWAN-DICKIE – 7.5
The competition was a major step up after his heroics against the Stormers, but Cowan-Dickie was game. His second-half try set the tone for the Lions’ fight back.

3. TADHG FURLONG – 7
Struggled to contain Trevor Nyakane, who had a point to prove at the setpiece, early on but slowly got into him after that. Was break even against the much-vaunted Kitshoff. Yet to see fireworks though.

4. MARO ITOJE – 8.5
Etzebeth and PSDT did a number on him in contact early on, with Etzebeth taking his time to remove himself from Itoje’s chest. A box office private battle was afoot. Playing at times more like a six, the Saracen’s poaching saved the Lions, not least his final strip and rip to bagged up the ball game.

5. ALUN WYN JONES – 7
The Lions seem less emotionally fragile with Jones on the field, if that’s something that can be said. Red-lined it on the workload front, with no evidence that his three-week break negatively affected his fitness.

6. COURTNEY LAWES – 8
Clocked up a decent tackle count but he struggled to impose the physicality he’s known for on the Boks in the first half. Came to life in the second-half after an energising purple patch, including a rare tackle-busting run. Left it all out there.

7. TOM CURRY – 7.5
Was absolutely everywhere in the opening minutes, even if his over-eagerness cost him a penalty or two.

8. JACK CONAN – 7.5
One of the few Lions forwards to consistently shake some change out of Bok pockets with ball-in-hand.

REPLACEMENTS:
16. KEN OWENS – 7
The Sheriff got an eagle to the snot, which looked very sore. That aside, a very decent cameo.

17. MAKO VUNIPOLA – 7.5
Got into Malherbe after being promoted into the Test team.

18. KYLE SINCKLER – 7.5
Made a big impact, with the Lions in full scrum ascendency in the final 20 minutes.

19. TADHG BEIRNE – NA
20. HAMISH WATSON – 7.5
‘Mish’s’ eagerness to get into the game nearly cost the Lions’ a yellow card. Lucky. Ripped in after that.

21. CONOR MURRAY – 7
Was a steady hand on the tiller when the Lions’ wanted to cash out.

22. OWEN FARRELL – 7
Why has watching Farrell kick from hand suddenly become an anxious business? Did enough to guide the Lions home, supplying the final points.

23. LIAM WILLIAMS – NA

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British & Irish Lions player ratings vs Springboks | First Test

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