15. Leigh Halfpenny: 8
It is becoming somewhat tedious to write, but once again Halfpenny’s goalkicking was exemplary, and given the issues Australia had in this area it ultimately made the difference. Made a respectable 32 metres as well, although when he ran up a blind alley next to a ruck in the second half the entirety of the British and Irish isles held their breath until he got back up. Less of that, please.
14. Alex Cuthbert: 6
Took his try well (although his path may have been cleared ever so slightly by O’Driscoll) to expose a makeshift centre, but was otherwise quiet. Dropped a clanger of a high ball, but everyone does every now and then. Position may well come under threat from a fit-again Tommy Bowe.
13. Brian O’Driscoll: 6.5
Was unlucky to concede two breakdown penalties early on when legitimately contesting for the ball, and although he had few chances to shine in attack it was still a workhorse-like performance from the midfield veteran, who got through 11 tackles. After 12 years of hurt, finally ended up on the winning side of a Lions test match again.
12. Jonathan Davies: 6.5
Like his midfield partner there wasn’t much of the flashy stuff as there was a week ago against the Waratahs, but that does not mean it wasn’t a good performance from the Welshman. Like O’Driscoll he made plenty of tackles, but was it enough to stave off the threat of the returning Tuilagi and possibly Roberts?
11. George North: 9
Scored a try that will quite rightly go down in Lions lore as one of the best ever scored in the famous red jersey. This was the moment North announced himself as a genuine world-class winger, and that try alone was enough to earn him the MOTM award. But for a fantastic Folau intervention he would have had a second, too.
10. Johnny Sexton: 7
Although he was skinned comprehensively for Folau’s try, the beautifully balanced step of the giant Wallaby would have fooled most people so he can’t be held too accountable. Other than that he ran the back-line well and kicked with aplomb from hand.
9. Mike Phillips: 4.5
The Lions’ weakest player. Box-kicked aimlessly and was comprehensively outplayed by his opposite number Genia while being effectively shackled by Ben Mowen in attack. Looked either too slow, too tired or too disinterested to tackle or chase Genia in the build-up to Folau’s first try.
1. Alex Corbisiero: 7.5
Part of a front row that did the exact job it was picked to do – outscrummage the Wallabies. He even got his hands on the ball a few times as well, and his half-break followed by panicked shifting of the ball to Croft was almost comical. The Lions will be sweating on his fitness for the second test.
2. Tom Youngs: 8.5
Completely justified his selection ahead of Hibbard. Youngs’ rise has been astronomic and if he keeps going he could become one of the best in the world in his position. The line-out was again workless and as a former centre his work rate and speed allowed him to tear about the park to tackle and carry time and again. Must have been very close to MOTM.
3. Adam Jones: 7.5
Like his two front row pals his excellence was outlined when they were substituted in the 51st minute, a decision that would have been lambasted had the Lions ended up losing. He tripled the amount of metres he has made so far on tour with a solid three on Saturday – but we all know that is not where his true worth lies.
4. Alun-Wyn Jones: 7
Arguably Jones’ withdrawal was as crucial to the scrum disintegrating as that of the front row. He is a giant of a man in the engine room, and yet seems to be so mobile as well. With O’Connell out for the rest of the tour, a huge amount of responsibility now falls on his shoulders.
5. Paul O’Connell: 7
This morning’s news that he will miss the rest of the tour is a hammer blow to the Lions. He was everywhere on Saturday, making tackles and generally leading the red-clad troops into battle. Parling has some huge shoes to fill.
6. Tom Croft: 7
A quiet game from Croft, but by no means a bad one. All accusations of his being afraid of the nitty gritty stuff must surely be shelved now, as the reason he wasn’t seen loitering on the wing was precisely that – he was getting involved in the rough stuff. Eight tackles and 27 metres made is a respectable return, and he was the go to man at the line-out.
7. Sam Warburton: 7.5
To the great relief of most, Warburton entirely justified his selection. If the Lions in general backed away from the breakdown after seeing how it was being officiated, Warburton instead poured his huge work rate into a monumental defensive shift, topping the tackle stats with 14. Led the Lions to victory and for that must take great credit.
8. Jamie Heaslip: 6
There were some flashes of the ability Heaslip undoubtedly has, but it wasn’t really enough and he will now be under great pressure from Faletau. The scrum may have been going backwards towards the end but his control at the back of it was uncharacteristically poor.
A Jim Telfer-esque session is needed this week to shore up the replacement scrummagers, whose impact on Saturday was to concede two penalties and almost hand the game to the Wallabies. Cole, Vunipola and Hibbard know there is some hard work to be done. Ben Youngs hugely increased the tempo of the game and with Phillips looking lethargic and off-target with his kicking Youngs will push all the way for next week’s starting spot. Lydiate and Parling were introduced late on and didn’t have enough time to make a great difference, although their defensive efforts were commendable.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images