Well, that was certainly a match to forget. The British and Irish Lions found themselves 7-3 down at halftime due to a dreadful first half performance but they eventually got the job done to emerge 13-7 winners.
The knives are certainly being sharpened already and Steve Hansen won’t be too worried watching that game but it needs to be said that the Lions have been in New Zealand three days, so a scrappy performance was always to be expected.
After the first game of this year’s Tour, we provide our player ratings and there were some definite winners and losers from what took place at Toll Stadium.
Joe Marler – 6
Contributed to a solid scrum. Carried well when called upon but missed one tackle during his 50 minutes on the field. Quiet otherwise.
Rory Best – 7
Very good showing from the Ireland captain. Carried well and tackled like a demon. His turnover work was excellent and got possession back for his side when they needed it the most. One crooked throw was the only negative about his game. Taken off for Jamie George after 50 minutes.
Kyle Sinckler – 8
Absolutely quality from Sinckler. Soft hands, carries, tackles and pure aggression – the modern tighthead prop. Really putting the pressure on Tadhg Furlong who has been considered the Test starter. Got a little ahead of himself in the second half when he took a quick-tap for a penalty and was immediately turned over. Taken off for Furlong after 50 minutes.
Alun Wyn Jones – 5.5
Contributed to a very good maul defence in the opening minutes which led to a turnover for the Lions as the Barbarians were piling on the pressure. Besides that, he was relatively poor, gave away a penalty for offside at one stage and knocked on after getting smashed in the second half. He couldn’t really get into the game but has played little rugby in recent months.
Iain Henderson – 5
A mixed bag from Henderson. Showed some soft hands during one of the Lions’ best-attacking moves but the supporters would have been disappointed not to have seen the destructive carries which we expect from the Ulster man. Gave away a penalty right in front of the posts and missed a few tackles.
Ross Moriarty – 7
Did his Test chances no harm. Made some serious yardage throughout the game with some powerful carries. Really aggressive performance from the Welshman and CJ Stander will have a fight on his hands to get that 6 shirt.
Sam Warburton – 5.5
It was the captain’s first game of rugby in quite a while and it certainly showed. Missed the return from the opening kick-off and showed a bit of recklessness when he went for the try line but got done for obstruction.
Taulupe Faletau – 8
Easily the man-of-the-match and Lions supporters won’t be feeling as bad about Billy Vunipola’s injury after this performance. Constantly, and we mean constantly, broke the gain line when he carried. Tackled very well and just showed a relentless workrate. His form in the latter part of the season with Bath is definitely showing here.
Greig Laidlaw – 6
Decent game from the Scot who grew into the game as it went on. Did miss touch with one of his clearing box kicks but they were otherwise at a good height and distance to keep it competitive.
Jonathan Sexton – 4
A game to forget for Sexton. Poor clearance kicks, kicks straight into touch, missed penalties and conceding penalties with high tackles. Undoubtedly, on his day, he is one of the best in the world but it is worrying to see the Leinster man so out of form.
Ben Te’o – 7.5
Quality performance from the Worcester Warriors centre. A surprise call up by many when the squad was announced in April but his performance today was excellent. Made a load of linebreaks and constantly looked dangerous with ball in hand – a constant threat.
Jonathan Joseph – 6
Three missed tackles hampered his performance and takes away all the good things he did in attack. Missed opportunity for the 26-year-old.
Tommy Seymour – 6
Was practically anonymous in the first half and just could not get into the game. Became more prevalent in the second 40 and put in a try saving tackle in the corner.
Anthony Watson – 6
Performed well in attack with a yield of 36 metres and four defenders beaten. Like Joseph he missed a few tackles which he will be disappointed with. Got the match winning try which showed his excellent finishing ability.
Stuart Hogg – 5
Poor game from the Six Nations Player of the Year. Knocked on when put under pressure and butchered a 2 on 1 opportunity for Watson to go over in the corner. Put in some brave tackles and ran some good lines but he will need to do better.
Owen Farrell – 6.5
Made an immediate impact when he came on with some lovely hands in the build up to Watson’s try. Missed a simple penalty but his presence on the pitch definitely settled down a nervy Lions side.
Mako Vunipola – 5.5
Took over from Marler and kept parity at scrum time. Made a few carries but missed a tackle in his cameo.
Jamie George – 5.5
Couldn’t really get into the game from an attacking point of view but made his tackles when called upon. Contributed to a solid lineout when the Lions were under serious pressure.
Tadhg Furlong – 6
Showed great hands along with Farrell in the build up to Watson’s try. Didn’t miss any tackles and carried aggressively as we have come to expect.
George Kruis – 5.5
Did what was required in terms of securing possession at lineout time. Expect to see more of him over the coming weeks.
Rhys Webb – 6
Looked to make things happen and was always a danger around the fringes of the ruck. Good cameo.
Justin Tipuric – 6
Recovered a high ball from Farrell and offloaded to Webb who nearly went over for a try.[gravityform id=”1″ title=”true” description=”true”]