Australia v Lions Final Test: Lions Player Ratings

15. Leigh Halfpenny: 10
This was surely one of the most complete fullback performances ever. Whenever the Australians kicked, Halfpenny seemed to be there. His own kicking was of the highest quality, as usual, from both hand and tee. And then there were the two assists, which saw him slice through the opposition defensive line before giving beautifully-timed passes to first Sexton and the North. Superlatives overflow for the man of the series.

14. Tommy Bowe: 7.5
Bowe was the quietest of the outside backs. He won a crucial turnover and popped up in midfield to make a couple of carries, but did not make the headlines as those around him did. Still, was a valuable part of a dominant back-line.

13. Jonathan Davies: 9
100% justified Gatland’s faith with a performance of the highest order. His left boot, which has been woefully underused this series, pinned the Australians back at any opportunity. For the decisive Sexton try, his part was arguably more important than Halfpenny’s as he glided outside his man – not unlike the great man he replaced – before freeing his hands to get the ball away. Superb stuff from Davies

12. Jamie Roberts: 8
Back with a bang, Roberts did everything we knew he would and he did it to the highest standard. The defensive general, he also crowned his performance with a briliantly taken try – picking a gorgeous line off Murray, he still had plenty to do as he shrugged off a couple of would-be defenders on his way to the line.

11. George North: 8.5
North has emerged as one of the finest wingers in world rugby on this tour, and he continued that form in this game. Finished his try well but was busy in open play as well, offering himself as a runner often. He is also a quality high-ball taker, as he showed by claiming both attacking and defensive kicks.

10. Johnny Sexton: 8.5
Another brilliant all-round performance from a Lion, this is the one we had been waiting for from Sexton. He attacked the line and brought Roberts and Davies into the game, while also kicking intelligently – including several well-weighted and directed bombs. The only blight on his game was missing opposite man O’Connor as he danced to the line.

9. Mike Phillips: 6.5
Sadly it was fairly average stuff again from Phillips. There was a lovely pass in the opening minute for Corbisiero’s try, but after that it went down hill. His box-kicking was aimless and his service poor, while he still has this penchant for going himself when it is clearly not on. Mowen shackled him effectively once again.

1. Alex Corbisiero: 9.5
Had this man been starting the second test the series might have been over already. His technique in the scrum is perfect, as Adam Jones noted after the game – and there are few in a better position to hand out praise to looseheads than a man who has made mincemeat of so many of them over the years. He also made an impressive seven carries, and even scored a try. Not many would have had money on him as first try scorer!

2. Richard Hibbard: 8
It was questioned coming into the game whether he deserved it over Youngs but like so many others he more than justified Gatland’s faith. Smashed heads with George Smith in the opening exchanges and bounced back to his feet, while the Aussie great was forced off all wobbly-kneed. Is he made of concrete?!

3. Adam Jones: 9
Oof this man can scrummage. He does not offer much else but really that does not matter in the slightest. Like Corbisiero, his technique is perfect and with Hibbard inside him and A-W Jones behind him, that was surely one of the most formidable scrummaging units ever put together. The Aussies never stood a chance.

4. Alun-Wyn Jones: 9
12 carries, 22 metres made and 12 tackles. Incredible stats for a second row, but for the man entrusted with leading the Lions in such a huge game and making all their decisions? Unbelievable. There was no leadership void, and for that this giant Welshman must take great credit.

5. Geoff Parling: 8.5
That tap tackle on Jesse Mogg was so, so vital. The momentum was starting to shift and an Australian try would have been devastating. As it is he extended his go-go-gadget arms and brought the live-wire fullback down, to the great relief of everyone in red. Made a further 11 tackles and carried strongly. Deputised for O’Connell admirably.

6. Dan Lydiate: 7.5
Solid but unspectacular again from Lydiate who made his tackles but little else. Gave away a stupid penalty before half time, just as he did in the second test, but was also conspicuous again with a few chop-tackles.

7. Sean O’Brien: 8.5
Defensive work-rate was astonishing, making 15 tackles in total – 11 of which were before half time as the Lions found themselves under the cosh. Didn’t get a chance to make many inroads with ball in hand but that didn’t matter as it was not what was asked of him. Filled the skipper’s boots well.

8. Toby Faletau: 8.5
Such a workhorse. Made 11 carries, and seemed to be everywhere the Lions needed him to be, particularly from the kick-offs. Made a crucial turnover when the Australians were threatening in the second half. Part of a back-row unit that comprehensively outplayed their counterparts.


Gatland seemed to time these to perfection. Conor Murray was again excellent as an impact sub and should be credited for putting Roberts in space for his try. Dan Cole had another good day in the scrum while Tom Youngs and Richie Gray were bundles of energy. Owen Farrell was his usual composed self and kicked a couple of booming penalties to touch to make huge gains for the Lions. Tipuric and Tuilagi didn’t really have long enough to influence matters but more than deserved their run out in a Lions test jersey.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

35 thoughts on “Australia v Lions Final Test: Lions Player Ratings

  1. have to wonder how you can rate any of the players 11-14 as high as you have. that game was won by the pack, half backs and halfpenny. with the exception of 2 kicks by davies he was anonymous. barely used defensively. not used in attack. bowe and north had a couple of good moments but nothing so good as to warrant that score. Roberts the same, good moments, but not close to the score given.
    I’ve not commented on ratings here previously, even though I wouldn’t agree, but I honestly think these are unrealistic and only as high as they are due to the hype of a series win, and the fact that it was 2 of these backs who scored tries.

    1. “and the fact that it was 2 of these backs who scored tries” … is that meant to sound funny? Rugby – a game where forwards decide the result, get the ball, then the backs (if they’re any good) run in to score tries. That is exactly what happened on Saturday, it was textbook. To dismiss 2 tries from these so called anonymous backs is a bit odd. Also agree with Jamie that JDs boot was awesome and so was his defensive understanding with the Doc. I can’t actually imagine the sort of game where you’d rate the backs highly conor – is it one where forwards are poor but backs overcome that? Oh, hang on, that sounds a lot like a certain NH team I know… (wink, joke, not trolling, banter, call it what you want).

      1. as brighty pointed out, “forwards win you a game, backs decide by how much”.

        JD’s boot was excellent, and JR brought a level of physicality to 12 that JD couldnt. the shift out used JD’s pace and hands more, so he was much more comfortable.

        its hard for the backs to look like they did lots of work, because the forwards were outstanding, but i can asure you, the backs were excellent.

        Corbs was unreal! so glad he (and North) are on their way to Saints next season. lets hope Corbs stays fit, as he is a great player. (i wonder whether Healy and Jenkins could have actually caused the damage he did?)

        1. I think a prime and fit Jenkins could have. Healy? No.

          I mentioned in the spring that I thought Corbs was England’s biggest loss in the 6N, looks like that was right.

          So chuffed to have seen it though – Corbs/Hibbard/Jones – a front three we’ll never see playing together again. Special. It’s what the Lions is all about.

          1. i dont think Jenkins would. he has really tailed off in recent seasons.

            I am nor sure if healy would have been as good in the scrum, but he would have brought more with ball in hand.

            we shall never really know, but over-all, i think that the injuries to those two were a blessing in disguise for the lions, because Corbs was amazing.
            He was without doubt england’s biggest loss in the 6Ns, because we were left with Marler starting. Corbs is primarily a scrummager (he brings more than just that, but you can guarantee he will scrum), which is something that other props are doing less and less of.

          2. Simo, I agree about Jenkins. As soon as I hit send I wish I’d added “a prime and fit Jenkins, which we have not seen for some time and probably never will”.

            Agree with you about props as well – scrummage first, all of this “good in the loose” lark too often takes precedence when I read some comments. By all means be an excellent extra back rower, but be the best scrummager first.

            I fear I’m getting old fashioned though – I laud wings who score tries, others place a higher premium on defence. I like old fashioned 6s who wallop, others want to see them adding a lineout option or running in tries like a centre, I want 7s who get over the ball and jackle more than I want them carrying…. (find myself adding the following caveat more and more nowadays; again, must be getting old, so here goes – for the offended the previous is what some of us old rugby fans refer to as “banter”. Don’t be offended. Quip back.)

          3. I must be even more old fashioned, I even like a scrum half who can get provide a decent service.

            Oh and I prefer a FH that offers an attacking threat through a kick, pass and run (not just one that tackles like a 6). On that subject though I think Farrell has been a very good tourist. Shaky start, but other than that seems to have just got his head down, not been bothered by warming a bench for ~220 mins and just embraced the whole experience. Hope his new found acquaintance with the gain line continues into the new season.

    2. Back to school for you, as I do believe that Sexton is in the backs as well so, Sexton, North and Roberts. Yep, that definitely makes 3.

  2. Umm, broadly agree but Lyds score is too low, confused when looking at him and O’Brien

    6. Dan Lydiate: 7.5
    Solid but unspectacular again from Lydiate who made his tackles but little else. Gave away a stupid penalty before half time, just as he did in the second test, but was also conspicuous again with a few chop-tackles.

    7. Sean O’Brien: 8.5
    Defensive work-rate was astonishing, making 15 tackles in total – 11 of which were before half time as the Lions found themselves under the cosh. Didn’t get a chance to make many inroads with ball in hand but that didn’t matter as it was not what was asked of him.

    So Lyds “only” made his tackles as a 6. O’Brien though had amazing tackles but not much else as a 7…. So O’Brien gets a point extra? I get what you want your 6’s to do but Croft wasn’t on the pitch! :-) . Not rating Lyds for what he did, for what the backrow did as a unit, really misses the point I feel. I am so glad he is ours and look forward to him being feted as one of our best and most important players (tied with Adam Jones, 1/2, Warbs, AWJ, North … list too long) again when he returns.

    1. Brighty we will continue to disagree on Lydiate at least until the next 6N. I don’t think he did a huge amount. SoB out tackled him, carried decently and generally had more impact on the game. Everyone has been telling me how much of a contribution that Lydiate makes with his tackling. I counted two impact tackles all game. He was more noticeable at the breakdown, but I would say that he was only workmanlike against the really positive contributions of Faletau and SoB. Probably would have given him a 7 as a workmanlike performance in a dominant pack.

      Can’t see how you can give Phillips 6.5. Behind a pack that dominant, even Bergamasco should have shone! His kicking was terrible, his pass was terribly slow after the first 5 minutes (when I thought he was going to have a good game!) and he didn’t make any yards that I can remember. If the Lions had lost that same performance would have got a 4 at best.

      Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I have been told that JR missed a third of his tackles and was anonymous in attack apart from the try which I admit was an exquisite line. I don’t regard that as doing everything to the highest standard. Without the try I would have given him 5.5/6, but with the try, it has to be a point higher so 6.5/7 but not 8.

    2. I know you’re not one for stats Brighty, but they do tell a story here. O’Brien made four more tackles (but missed two) made more carries, more metres, beat one defender, and made one offload. I think that probably equates to one more point on the scores.
      Lydiate did the job he was put there for, and to great effect. He is a tackler, and a hassler, and he did his job well. But I think O’Brien just did a little bit more with the ball in hand to earn that extra point.

      1. SOB did a lot more.
        but this just seems (as others have pointed out before) to be another time when Lydiate should be above criticism…

  3. Lydiate was as one dimensional as always, except he made even fewer tackles this time around, waste of a plane ticket, not Lions quality.

    Did Roberts crash the ball up once in the first half? He was as anonymous as a 12 could ever get. Some of those backline scores are ridiculously high. North, Davies, Phillips, Sexton….

    1. yes, Lyds was one dimensional, the dimension of a winner. I’m sure he’s happy there with his series winners medal, doesn’t need hysterical armchair approval.

      For pete’s sake man, I can understand people quibbling about relative quality, but to say he was a waste of a plane ticket is hyperbolic beyond belief.

  4. How you can score Alun-Wyn only a 9
    The man was immense and to be honest clearly scored at the bottom of the post but quickly recycled to set up the first try

    His tackling and carries stats were immense and all this whole having to be the leader on the field

    He was the best choice of captain

    after a few days of idioticall comments questioning his ability he showed them all why he is a true great and to be honest was equally deserving of a 10 like 1/2p

  5. I ask myself “has the magnitude of the occasion and result bumped some up a little?” and “do they fully reflect where the game was won?” and “was Lydiate really the least effective of the back row or was it actually the introduction of the other 2 that made the difference?”

    But then I conclude, there is no 4th test, we aren’t picking a team for next week. If they all got an 11 I really wouldn’t mind.

    Gatland has it 100% right, the mission for 2009 was to restore pride in the jersey, the mission for 2013 was to deliver a series win. Still some negativity surrounds it, I just can’t get my head round this. Let’s look at the facts:
    – 1/3rd of the squad only links up with the party the evening before they fly out having done no prep in the UK. Many test candidates are not available for the first game, so there is no opportunity to see, for example, a JR + BOD pairing.
    – 3 of the prep games become little more than an opposed training run, making it so difficult to compare the relative merits of players and combinations.
    – The game has changed in 4 years, doubling up in a week after a long season when many of the players haven’t even had a preparatory camp becomes becomes a much bigger headache than expected. This is why I think it took a lot longer to actually get the best XV together. This is also compounded by the strength in depth of the squad with only Stevens an obvious dirt tracker, so working out the best XV is harder than it’s ever been.

    I think it’s a remarkable achievement.

    Of course there will be learning points, but I think he’s done an incredible job. I would be delighted if he took the reigns for 2017. If anyone reckons a coach can come in with no familiarity with any of the players, invent a style of play, get the players to understand it, evaluate which players and combinations can implement it the best and deliver a series win with limited prep time, then please can I have whatever you are smoking.

    One man that should never tour again is Stuart Barnes, whilst what he says is mostly garbage it’s the manner in which it is said that grates the most. For a B+I commentator to spend 6 weeks banging on about the Welsh record against the Aussies is abysmal. Please lets not have commentators who are determined to divide the squad into it’s constituent parts ever again. The players are supposed to represent the best of B+I, same rules for commentary team please!

    1. Well said Matt and particularly about Barnes. God he annoys me.

      As for arguments about Lydiate, etc – its immaterial now. They won. They can all have 10s from me (apart from Philips)

      If we disagree about certain players, let’s wait till the 6 Nations – then we can see how the players we would have chosen match up – Lydiate/Warburton vs Robshaw/Wood vs O’Brien vs Brown. Jenkins vs Healey vs Corbs vs Grant, etc, etc

      Can’t wait. Also hope the momentum from the tour carries forward into the autumn internationals and all the nations win a game or two against the S Hemisphere. Wales may even finally beat Australia ;)

    2. I take the point about Gatland not getting the credit for what he did and he has belatedly got it from me (better late than never!), but I disagree about the point of not having familiarity with the players (10 Welshmen started the last test (in case you missed out on that snippet!!!!!!)), inventing a new game plan (it was the Welsh one) and getting the players to understand it (about half of the squad know it inside out). Agree on the other points though.

      1. Not a particularly clear point from me. I’m highlighting what an ‘independent’ coach would need to do, rather than what Gatland actually did. The traditional B+I way of finding the best blend of styles can’t work in the time available. The coach needs to have a pretty clear view on game plan before the squad has even assembled and trained together.

        If Gatland took the job again I think it would be beneficial to increase the coaching diversity through either bringing in some representation from the other countries, or someone that has worked with none of them. This time round I think it would have been good to include Scott Johnson (know thy enemy as well as knowledge of the Scottish players)

  6. I think pretty fair scored – slightly bumped up but why shouldn’t they be after a fantastic series win?

    Roberts and Lydiate would probably have a point less if it was me. I thought AWJ and Corbs should both have 10s along with Halfpenny. If we had lost Phillips wouldn’t have got more than a 3, he was woeful! Murray did nothing special when he can on but looked like Gregan after what Phillips had been doing for an hour.

    What I have learnt from this year is that you shouldn’t travel to Australia for the first two test weeks! 2017 I will be make sure I’m there for the final test!

  7. Agree with a number of the postings about marks for 11-14 being a bit toppy. Three players to comment on:

    Philips – a 5 would be generous. From my seat in the ground it looked like (other than the quick tap in minute one) that he’d picked up where he’d left off in Brisbane. Very poor.

    Corbisiero – should be a 10. What else did he need to do? Made a huge difference to the scrum, tackled and carried and scored. Noticeable that when North scored his try Corbs was the first Lions player on the scene to follow up. Omnipresent when on the pitch.

    Faletau – I’d have had him in the XV from day one. Lions were so much better at the restarts. Carried and tackled in his usual unfussy way. 9/10 for me. Heaslip and Croft in the same back row was always going to leave too much for Warburton (or any 7) to do. Faletau redressed the balance.

    So please to see the whole side play with intensity and ambition. It was sorely lacking in Melbourne.

  8. Every member of the squad deserves a 10, that includes Philips and I am not a fan. Why?, because they have been very much a squad, epitomized by BOD, working and training to give us a series win. The only Player who deserves more is ½ p who in my eyes is now a very full 1P.

  9. phillips was a waste of space again. 6.5 is generous. Murray really changed the game, and to be fair, i think that if anyone is to start carrying the poundland tag, it shouldnt be him.

  10. was thinking about another point.

    Gatland has said he “wouldn’t rule out taking the lions in 2017” i can’t be the only one who read that as “yes i will, as long as i am not in the All Blacks job”.

    i expect Gatland will be offered the ABs job after the world cup.

      1. Well if he wants to continue coaching the Welsh there won’t be a better place to do it than Paris!

      2. i am actually inclined to believe Gats in that article.

        after all, he was out of coaching, because he took the whole year off for the lions. so it was a good chance to keep himself ticking over. not to mention that i am sure he was given a “consultancy fee”. as well as the fact that he probably had expenses paid, so a nice free holiday for him and the mrs to paris. would you say no?

        gatland has pretty much followed the career path of Graham Henry, and i would not be surprised if after the world cup (i believe this is when his wales contract is up, correct me if i am wrong) he will be offered the ABs job. as much as he is an honorary Brit, he is still a native kiwi, and for him there cannot be a higher job than the AB coach. from my point of view it is inevitable that he will go to the all blacks, and i think it will likely be when he leaves the wales job.

        1. I agree with you Simo. I think he’ll see his time out with Wales as he has nowhere else to go really. Hansen is in the AB’s job until the WC and i dont see why you would trade a shot at the WC (albeit with Wales) to go and coach a French club team. You have to assume his ultimate goal is the AB’s job, and we may see it happen post WC 2015.

          Whatever you may think of Gatland you cannot deny his achievements at both club & international level so you’d have to assume he’d be top of the AB’s ‘next coach’ list.

          Or he could just be as George Hook describes him “a crap coach, who has got lucky”

  11. I think those ratings aren’t far off the money. It was a really composed performance across the board. I was worried about the game myself, and I was surprised Gatland had his men primed to come out fighting so early on. The Lions is a special tour and I almost feel like a neutral watching it, hoping for the best team to win. The moment I got behind the Lions was when Sexton just missed a dg by a hairs breath. He looked heart broken and you could see how much it meant to him. I though he was great, and got the ball out wide nicely on the left before following it up for the try. You know the old saying ‘Handle a ball twice in a move (phase) and a try is on’ or something to that effect. I agree that Parlings tip tackle was a massive moment. The try was on there. It’s moments like that that can swing the momentum. Hearts of Lions. Epic!

  12. Don’t understand the negative comments for Lydiate. Richard Hill Vs Dan Lydiate. Why is it that Hill is heralded as one of the greatest 6s of the professional era due to his ‘unseen work’ but Lydiate is just a one dimensional tackler? Why can’t Lydiate also get some recognition for his value to the team and allowing those around him to perform better? I’m not suggesting he should have been MotM or anything, but I think those who are knocking him are vastly underestimating his importance to the team performance.

    First test: Back row balance was really poor, Warburton on his own struggling, Heaslip/Croft not playing their natural games. Aussies win the breakdown.

    Second test: Lydiate comes in, suddenly Warburton is dominating the breakdown. He tracks Lydiate like a winger running a support line and known when to get in.

    Third test: Even without a specialist 7, and facing the great George Smith, the Lions dominate the breakdown and win the close quarter exchanges.

    Lydiate isn’t flash, will never have a ‘world class’ highlight reel, but he makes a team better and enables those around him to excel. Shame he couldn’t have stayed in his country of birth!

  13. Originally I was vehemently opposed to the choice of Lydiate. On form I’d have never argued but the guy had barely played for a year or so and with players like Robshaw, Wood and Kelly Brown available, it seemed to be lunacy

    Even after the second test, I wasn’t sure, believing that he was just there to tackle and to tame Genia, a Joe Worlsey-esque type role and that choosing him seemed overly defensive (would have SOB, Faletau and Tipuric)

    I was wrong. I thought the work he did in the last test was superb and he was the main reason that Genia barely got a foothold in the game. As Matt, says, he allows others around him to excel

    I think its amazing that Lydiate came from having barely played for a year to being an integral part of a winning Lions side. It shows the measure of the man.

    With luck Wood can be the same type of player for England and a 6 nations back-row contest between Lydiate, Faletau and Warburton vs Wood, Morgan and Robshaw is mouth-watering. I hope they all stay fit

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