An epic battle on Wednesday was decided by a brilliant second-half try by substitute Ihaia West, which gave the Blues a deserved 22-16 over the Lions at Eden Park.
The Lions forward pack were strong and several All Black contenders made huge impressions.
So how did the players rate?
British And Irish Lions
15. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales) 6
Solid running and perfect place kicking. Not really much of a threat in attack but not many mistakes either.
14. Jack Nowell (England) 4
Highly involved in a roving role. Gassed by Rieko Ioane in Blues’ first try but thwarted a second time in the second-half. Had a horror show when missing Ioane and then bobbling a pass in the space of five minutes. Missed three tackles on Ioane and probably played himself out of the Lions Test team.
13. Jared Payne (Ireland) 5
Just missed out on a try sideline in the first half, which perhaps he should have scored. Prominent in the first-half but taken care of by his midfield opponents in the second.
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland) 6
Some solid defense but didn’t offer much in attack, apart from a few touch-finding grubber kicks.
11. Elliot Daly (England) 6
A few classy touches but very quiet as few opportunities created for him.
10. Dan Biggar (Wales) 5.5
Solid but unspectacular before being injured late in the first-half with a head injury. Jonny Sexton mainly limited himself to up and unders as a substitute. The Lions need more creativity and threat from fly-half if they are to compete with the New Zealand sides.
9. Rhys Webb (Wales) 7
Snappy delivery and strong kicking from the base. Perhaps overplayed the box kick in the second-half as the Lions struggled to gain possession and momentum. Did not unleash his running game as the Lions struggled for possession in the second-half.
8. CJ Stander (Ireland) 8
Strong involvement with twelve carries in the first half alone and 17 in total. Scored a deserved try after strong Lions maul in first-half. Had an enjoyable battle with Rieko Ioane running back Blues kick-offs. Leading Lions tackler with 14 for the game. Will give Warren Gatland a difficult decision about whether he or Faletau should start in the Tests.
7. Justin Tipuric (Wales) 6.5
Seemed to pop up in important positions to grab loose ball and make important tackles. Less prominent in second half but was not alone in that respect.
6. James Haskell (England) 6.5
Strong runs in the first-half but disappeared in the second.
5. Courtney Lawes (England) 7
A bruising performance, strong in the tight and in the tackle. Kept his motor running deep into the game.
4. Maro Itoje (England) 7
Added some real starch to the Lions around the field, clearing rucks and a powerful presence in mauls and lineouts. Missed three tackles but generally accurate and classy.
3. Dan Cole (England) 6.5
Won a scrum penalty against his All Black counterpart. Joe Marler made a big impression as a substitute.
2. Ken Owens (C) (Wales) 7
Strong performance as captain. Excellent cover tackle in the second-half to stop a promising Blues attack. Rory Best had an unfortunate memorable moment when his crucial lineout throw was inaccurate as the Lions mounted their final attack close to the Blues’ tryline.
1. Jack McGrath (Ireland) 8
Another to win a scrum penalty and part of a front three which outmuscled their All Black-capped opposition. Busy tackler with twelve completed successfully. Kyle Sinckler also had an impressive run around off the bench.
15. Michael Collins 8
Showed good poise cleaning up defensive mistakes and a strong touch-finder. Dangerous running from the back. Leading metre-gainer for both sides with 84. Impressive.
14. Matt Duffie 5.5
Some ambitious touches, strong in the air but play did not really go his way for him to show his running threat.
13. George Moala 6
A quiet game but defensively solid. Left in the shade by his teammate in midfield.
12. Sonny Bill Williams 8.5
Two crucial turnovers in the first-half and rock solid defensively. One trademark offload and then an opportunist try on the stroke of half-time. In the second-half, he gave another brilliant offload, which proved decisive. After this high class display, SBW is certain to be part of Steve Hansen’s Test squad.
11. Rieko Ioane 8
Impressive first try and very close to a second in the late stages of the first-half, and twice again in the second half. Easily won the battle against Jack Nowell. Looked All Black class. Could Julian Savea be feeling nervous when the Test side is named?
10. Stephen Perofeta 6.5
A mixed bag from the young fly-half, a few indecisive moments and fumbles, but also a try-scoring tackle, a try-making cutout pass and metre-eating touch-finders. No lack of ambition. Subbed at about 52 minutes. Ihaia West made a sensational impact off the bench with a 40-metre burst for the match-winning try.
9. Augustine Pulu 7.5
An unpredictable menace all game. Really grew in confidence in the second-half and began to dominate the match.
8. Steven Luatua 7.5
Hardworking without being spectacular until he gave Sonny Bill Williams a glorious offload, who in turn sent Ihaia West speeding to the tryline. Was this enough to be named in the All Black Test side?
7. Blake Gibson 7
Workmanlike and strong, with ten tackles made.
6. Akira Ioane 7.5
Some strong runs as he grew into the game. Impressive physicality and very high work rate with a game high 14 tackles. Looks like he would not be out of place in a black jersey.
5. Scott Scrafton 6.5
Tough in the tight and muscle up well to his England opponents.
4. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti 6.5
A few bruising runs in the game and fared very well considering he was a late call-up.
3. Charlie Faumuina 6
Trademark intelligent pass to open up space for the backline in Ioane’s try. Was put under pressure in the scrum by Jack McGrath. Subbed at 58 minutes.
2. James Parsons 7.5
One blockbusting run in the second-half and led his team with energy. Rediscovered his lineout throwing accuracy after a few early issues. Played the full 80 and could have booked himself a place in the All Blacks extended squad if Dane Coles does not recover from his lineout issues.
1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi 7
Excellent work rate and tackling and unlucky when he almost forced a try-scoring error from Dan Biggar. Faced some difficulty against Dan Cole in the scrum. Subbed at 58 minutes.
Kaal Kaczmarek, Pundit Arena
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Be sure to check out the latest episode of The Oval Office, our rugby podcast, where we discussed the fallout from the Lions first two matches of the New Zealand tour as well as looking forward to the Crusaders match.
Read More About: 2017 British and Irish Lions, Akira Ioane, Augustine Pulu, blake gibson, Charlie Faumuina, cj stander, Courtney Lawes, cowley-tuioti, dan biggar, dan cole, elliot daly, George Moala, jack mcgrath, Jack Nowell, James Haskell, James Parsons, jared payne, Justin Tipuric, ken owens, leigh halfpenny, lions news, Maro Itoje, Matt Duffie, michael collins, moal, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, rhys webb, Rieko Ioane, robbie henshaw, SBW, Scott Scrafton, Sonny Bill Williams, stephen perofeta, Steven Luatua