15. Leigh Halfpenny: 6.5
In a game that the opposition dominated, Halfpenny’s day was mainly spent fielding and returning kicks, which he did reasonably well. Sadly his game will always be remembered for the missed kick on the final whistle, but we must remember that even if he had struck it as sweetly as possible, it was probably just out of his range.
14. Tommy Bowe: 6
Nice to see him back in a Lions test match, but the territory-dominated game-plan meant we never got to see his partnership with North blossom as it did in the warm-up games. Chased down kicks well, but that was largely it – when the wingers make ten metres combined, it says a lot about the way you have played the game. Will hopefully be given more of a chance next week.
13. Brian O’Driscoll: 7
You can never question this man’s commitment or work-rate. 12 tackles are a testament to an afternoon spent hacking down the opposition, who enjoyed far more territory and possession. Although it was his opposite man that score the decisive try, it was not O’Driscoll who was out of position.
12. Jonathan Davies: 4.5
Sadly, that unwanted accolade must go to Davies, who found himself somewhat in no-man’s land as Ashley-Cooper burst through the defence and over the line for the winning try. With three missed tackles in total, he has not reproduced his fine midweek form in the test matches and will likely find himself out of the starting line-up next week.
11. George North: 6.5
Not the attacking force he was last week, but that was not his fault as the Lions tightened up and played a game dominated much more by the boot. Still provided the moment of the match when he picked up Israel Folau dump-truck-style… when he himself had the ball. The Lions need to make use of his talents better next week.
10. Johnny Sexton: 6.5
A mixed bag from Sexton, who looked comfortable but never really dominated his opposite number, who was having another off day, as he should have done. The plan was obviously to pin the Australians back, but his kicking from hand wasn’t accurate enough to achieve this successfully.
9. Ben Youngs: 5.5
Like Sexton, a lot of his kicking was fairly aimless and allowed the Australians time and space to make decisions. Three carries for one metre made is not the Youngs we have come to know, and whether it was because of the game he was asked to play or otherwise, he has probably not done enough to keep the shirt for the final test.
1. Mako Vunipola: 6.5
A more topsy-turvy game from one player there has not been for quite some time. Made good inroads in the loose early on but was destroyed in the scrums, but then just as the cries for his substitution reached fever pitch he roared back at his opposite man and the Lions began to dominate at the set-piece. A bizarre game, out of which he emerged probably in credit.
2. Tom Youngs: 5
Unfortunately, it was not a good day for the Youngs brothers. Tom was far less obvious in the loose than last week, and although there was only one line-out lost on their own throw there were several that wobbled badly, not allowing the backs the platform they wanted and needed. Will be under fierce competition from Hibbard for second test.
3. Adam Jones: 7.5
A pillar in the scrums, even early on when the Lions were having issues it was never his side that struggled. Such is his value in these tight exchanges that it matters very little how anonymous he is with ball in hand.
4. Geoff Parling: 6.5
Superb work-rate from Parling, whose 14 tackles were the most of any player in red. The line-out, however – usually so solid when he is present – was not as accurate as it needed to be and along with Tom Youngs, he must take some of the blame.
5. Alun-Wyn Jones: 7
Seemed to become even more physical, if that is possible, in the absence of Paul O’Connell. Another who put himself about, making ten tackles, and his weight and power are invaluable in the scrums.
6. Dan Lydiate: 7
13 tackles show his usual willingness to be agressive in defence, and he must take a huge amount of credit for not allowing Genia the room to dominate as he did last week. Looks to have done enough to stave off the challenge of Croft and O’Brien for the final test.
7. Sam Warburton: 8.5
The game turned when the captain went off injured. He won three turnovers, was the sole source of quality ball at the line-out and tackled his heart out, but more than that he stepped up into the leadership void left by Paul O’Connell. Had Leali’ifano missed his kick or Halfpenny slotted his, Warburton would have been the man to lead the Lions to a winning series and it would have been no less than he deserved for these two performances.
8. Jamie Heaslip: 6
It was another quiet game from Heaslip. You sensed that he needed to do more with ball in hand give that his two back-row mates’ skills lie much more in the defensive aspects of the game. The control at the base of the scrum was better than last week, but aside from one impressive carry there wasn’t much to write home about.
Conor Murray stormed into contention for the final test with the type of performance that Mike Phillips was once renowned for. All ‘budget’, ‘value’ or ‘basics’ tags must now be retired, and there is a real chance he could become the third different scrum-half to start a test next week. Dan Cole was the other big winner, as he banished the scrum demons of last week and dominated the set-piece. Tom Croft and Sean O’Brien added pace to the back-row from the bench, but the latter was the only one who got a decent chance with ball in hand.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43