The British and Irish Lions wanted a proper challenge and they certainly got it from South Africa ‘A’.
The Lions will be disappointed with several aspects of their performance, although the South Africans must be commended for an extremely physical and intense shift.
Check out the Lions player ratings below.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 14, 2021
15. Liam Williams: N/A
Did well to take a couple of high balls but came off after 15 minutes due to a head injury.
14. Louis Rees-Zammit: 6
A bit of a mixed bag from the youngster. He bought Cheslin Kolbe’s dummy which led to the South African’s second try, but he was unlucky not to score a try of his own late on.
13. Chris Harris: 6
He missed a crucial tackle on Kolbe which led to Lukhanyo Am’s try, although he got one back on the South African winger when he trampled over him later on. Overall however, it wasn’t Harris’ greatest performance.
12. Bundee Aki: 7
The Connacht centre was quiet in the first half but grew into the game, making a number of powerful carries while he put in a solid shift in defence.
11. Anthony Watson: 8
He made a try-saving tackle early on and also showed great pace and footwork to race deep inside South African territory early on in the second half. As long as his ankle holds up, Watson should start in the first test.
10. Owen Farrell: 5
The Englishman’s blocked kick led to the South African’s first try, and while he did some good stuff, Farrell struggled to find gaps in an admittedly impressive opposition defence.
9. Conor Murray: 6
While the Lions scored a try from a tap and go early in the second half, Murray should have called for a scrum when the tourists were camped on the South African try line late on in the first half. The captain was slow from the base of the ruck, which allowed the South Africans to set their defence time and time again.
8. Taulupe Faletau: 7
Showed good pace when making a break into the South African 22 late in the first half, while he did well to create some space for Rees-Zammit during a Lions attack early on in the second half. He wasn’t overly busy during his 48-minute performance but did well when called upon.
7. Tom Curry: 8
One of the Lions’ best players on the day, Curry made the most tackles among the tourists, while he also made a number of crucial carries, the most notable of which put the Lions deep into South African territory after getting the ball about 50 metres out.
6. Josh Navidi: 7
The Welshman was very involved in the first half, putting in plenty of tackles, but he couldn’t muster a similar effort in the second 40 in which the rest of his team stepped up.
5. Iain Henderson: 6
The Ulsterman had a quiet evening in Cape Town, and with the return of Alun Wyn Jones, a starting test place may now be out of Henderson’s reach.
4. Maro Itoje: 8
Made an absolute nuisance of himself in defence, and made plenty of carries too. The Englishman was also excellent in the lineout and is currently the stand out option for the Lions in the second row.
3. Kyle Sinckler: 7
Helped the Lions get the better of the South African scrum early on and made some strong carries. Somewhat outshone by his front row partner Jones, but a decent shift nonetheless.
2. Ken Owens: 7
The Welshman got plenty of ball in his 50-minute shift, making 10 carries in total, many of which were off tap and goes. He didn’t make much ground from those carries but he did have a wall of onrushing South Africans to charge into on every occasion.
1. Wyn Jones: 8
Played his role in two scrum penalties won by the Lions and showed great strength to get over for the tourists’ first try. He came off with what looked to be a shoulder injury, which will be a worry for Warren Gatland.
Notable replacement – Elliot Daly: 8
Daly played for 65 minutes in Cape Town, and was the Lions’ best back along with Anthony Watson. The Englishman looked dangerous in attack and made a number of important tackles also.
Other replacements: 6
Sam Simmonds made an excellent steal on the ground metres away from the South African try line, although the Lions were unable to turn that into points. While the bench held the hosts at bay, they were unable to give their side the extra push needed to get them over the line.