Australia v Lions Second Test: Lions player ratings

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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.

Replacements

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

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53 comments on “Australia v Lions Second Test: Lions player ratings

  1. A little high for the backs I think.

    Beale had his hands on the ball 34 times, our 11-15 only managed a total of 38.

    Sexton managed 10 passes, how can you can’t have a particularly influential game as playmaker if you manage to pass the ball once every 8 minutes.

    Folau beat more defenders then our entire backline.

    We managed 3 offloads all game (none of which came from a starting back)

    We turned them over 21 times, so we were hardly starved of opportunities to start something, we barely managed a half break, let alone a clean one.

    If a 6 is a ‘par’ game I can only give 1/2p and North a 6. All the other backs come in at 5.5 and below.

  2. Cannot for the life of me understand what all the love for Lydiate is all about. It seems to me that I watched a different game from everyone else. Yes he tackles, but isn’t that what a backrow forward should do? But the problem is that he has nothing else to his game.

    On the Robshaw debate, I would have picked Robshaw over Lydiate on the basis of this season, but at his best Lydiate is the better player. I do think that Steve meant to say this. At the moment, I would be quite happy for Robshaw to play as he can do a bit of everything. However he was competing for the 7 spot and unfortunately Warburton and Tipuric were ahead.

    Can’t see the 7 for BOD. He did some good things but also made a mess of some. The centre partnership just hasn’t worked. I’ve not been a fan of Roberts this season. He’s had one good game only, but I would still rather have him playing than JD and BOD again.

    Bit harsh on T Youngs. He was outstanding last week so to compare the two games and mark him down is harsh. The lineout did struggle, but we were out gunned. He wasn’t at his best but once again it regressed with Hibbard. Some serious preseason training required for all darts throwers after this tour!

    • Staggy, you’re wrong about Steve. See his later comments e.g. ” Robshaw was a standout player in the competition, and is a far better player than Lydiate will ever be.”

      • staggy and i have clearly picked up a similar impression.

        what i get from Steve is that he is suggesting Robshaw is a more complete rugby player than Lydiate. which i would agree with.

        Steve has stated that this makes Robshaw a better player than Lydiate. again, i see the logic here, but i am not sure whether i totally agree.

        the point he was making is that Robshaw will carry, link and take lineouts AND he tackles. we only ever really seem to get the tackling from Lydiate.

        When DL is on form, his tackles are destructive and can be game changing. However, we are yet to see this form on the lions tour.

        as i said, i wont weight in on the “who’s a better player debate”, but i would safely say Robshaw is more rounded. Lydiate may be better in certain areas (important ones for a 6), but i think that Robshaw can adapt to different styles of play better, as he is a more complete footballer.

        i also see Steve’s point about Lydiate seeming to avoid criticism.

        lets take Brad Barritt for example. the guy has come under huge criticism for only being a tackle machine, he doesnt bring anything else. now the difference between a centre and flanker is obviously there, but the extra dimensions (although different) are still lacking.
        Barritt lacks creativity/offloading or real game breaking power (ie Tuilagi).
        Lydiate lacks the carrying (either tight or wider) that others bring. he doesnt offer the lineout ability that someone like croft has (or the pace of croft either). and also he doesnt bring a huge amount of versatility (SOB plays 6,7,8, Croft plays 6 or lock).
        Robshaw covers 6,7 and 8. and when Wood shifted to 8, it was Robshaw who hang back to field the kicks (yet another string in the bow).

        It basically comes down to a Jack of all trades vs a Master of one.
        the master isnt at his masterful best, and the jack had a pretty good 6Ns based on stats and MoMs.

        it seems Lydiate was chosen because Gatland wanted to play a certain way. it just seems odd that he then asks guys like 36, Sexton, Wade and Youngs, Heaslip, Croft to not play to their style, but then Lydiate is getting a different message…

  3. So we’ve established that the back row worked as far as turnovers is concerned etc. But the distinct lack of metres gained from those turnovers, and failure to capitalise on any metres we did gain is where it all went wrong. With no Warburton next week Gatland needs to decide if he should play Lydiate, who tackled well and also created chances for those turnovers, or go back to Croft and strengthen the line-out, and do something when we turn it over. Two very different 6′s with vastly different skills. It’s almost a shame you can’t play them together?
    Once the ball goes past the pack is where the most metres should be gained, but Sexton was standing too deep, and JD is not a crash ball 12. Tuilagi at 12 may not worry the Aussies too much, but they will undoubtably find themselves drawn to him anyway, and this leaves space out wide for North, Bowe (or Cuthbert) and Halfpenny to exploit.

    • Think you are wrong about Tuilagi. It’ll worry the Aussies because they will need to allocate at least 2 tacklers to the task of bringing him down and that creates room for the Lions.

      If they don’t, the chance that he will break a tackle and be able to run is much higher. And the last thing they need is Tuilagi causing havoc in space

      I know its silly to use one game as evidence but it is such good evidence. Watch the ABs game to see how in the first try, the gap is caused by the defence’s concern about Tuilagi and then for the second, how the first-up tackling is not good enough to stop him.

      Now you could argue that Roberts has a similar effect. The difference with Roberts though is that he doesn’t have Tuilagi’s pace.

      So for me, Tuilagi at 12 on teh crash ball. Hopefully, whether he takes the ball or runs dummies, it will be enough to open up holes for Bowe, North and BOD to exploit

      • I was trying to play it down a little so as not to cause offence to any Aussies reading, but you’re right, they’ll be bricking it! Just can’t understand why Gatland didn’t play him for the second test? When you have a combination that is not working and giving others space or time on the ball, and you have a player who can bust holes, beat defenders and draw other defenders, why would you leave him out altogether???? Makes no sense. Just hope Gatland has seen the light.

        • I really have no idea Dazza. Seems insane to me.

          He should have at least been on the bench in place of Cuthbert. Given that he seems to fit Gatland’s game plan so well, I cannot understand it

          I know what will happen this week though. Roberts will be picked instead and will offer some more penetration but not much more and will probably have to go off injured at some point leaving us with Farrell at 12 – who will at least pass the ball!

  4. All this talk about the composition of the backrow and bringing Croft back in for his superior lineout work. Not much use if the hookers cant hit the mark! 2 ball everytime doesnt open up many attacking opportunities. At least with Lydiate in the team, his tackling around the fringes frees up the other 2 to cause havoc in the breakdown. It was no coincidence that Warbs had such a great game when he wasnt trying to do 2 jobs!

    • No, your right. Sorry my eyes glazed over with you swinging handbags at everyone! Lol!

      However I agree with most of his other comments. I’ve stated most of them already in one guise or another.

    • Dewi. The points have already been made to cover this.

      Lineout. The lions were playing with two lineout specialists to the aussies 3. It’s going to put pressure on the thrower and jumper. TY looked fine last week with the odds even.

      Lydiate. The point has already been made that the Lions were indeed better at the breakdown because of Lydiate and Warburton looked better with him there. However the team looked worse. We won a battle and lost a war. The lions poured extra resources into the breakdown and suffered as a consequence in the lineout and the ball carrying department. We looked much better in test one where the breakdown was pretty even, and we had less turnovers but we made much more use of our ball. Helping out Warburton ultimately made us less competitive in other areas.

  5. Harsh on Parling I think. When Lydiate supposedly had a stormer making 13 tackles and missing 2 and it’s all he’s brought in for, how is it that Parling had a sub-par game when he makes more tackles and doesn’t miss any? The lineout issues were largely to do with the fact that England needed the extra quality jumper to relieve some pressure. Poor game plan.

    In terms of backrow, what’s important is carrying ball. You have to not miss your tackles, but you really are the go forward in the forwards. The Aus stats show you. Hooper carried 30m, Palu 34m and Mowen 14m. The Lions backrow carried 21m combined. The closest of them to an Australian stat was Heaslip with 12m. Those carries, the gainline crosses are what puts the opposition on the back foot and keeps them there and there’s not enough from Lydiate or Warburton to make a mark. What Croft, O’Brien and Tipuric bring to the mix is that ball carrying ability. I personally thought Tipuric was a better option than Warburton going into the tests and was disappointed he didn’t get to show it. On Saturday we had Lydiate and Warburton tackling, slow ball on the attack and no support from the forwards in the backline. For me that is where the game is lost. The Australian backrow had the Lions’ backrow on toast and the Lions fans quote the number of tackles made as a sign that they were winning the encounter. The previous week, Lions carried 40m in the backrow to Australia’s 28m and, to be fair, the Lions looked the more credible threat to the try line.

    My other concern is that generally the team making the most tackles is the one under the kosh and the one going to lose. Lions made twice as many tackles (140 to Aus 71) on Saturday and lost. The previous week, Aus made 125 to 121 for the Lions, a much more even contest.

    I think the clear point is that the Lions need to carry more and need to attack more to trouble the defence. The gameplan which involved tightening up and defending just meant the Australians had more opportunity to pound the defensive line and it’s going to break eventually.

  6. I would bring in Tipuric and Faletau at 7/8. Roberts or Tuilagi at 12. Either one should break the game line and free up the others.

    • Yup, Tipuric at 7, SOB at 6 and Faletau at 8 – an all action, carrying back row.

      Palu and Mowen are big guys. Spread the ball, get them running from ruck to ruck (with our ruck support coming from this relatively fresh back row) and you’ll catch them out of place in the defensive line at some point – perfect for Bowe or North to take advantage of any mis-match

      • Also, tie up Mowen by ensuring that he’s needed to stop runs from SOB and Faletau, bury him at the bottom of the ruck and watch gaps appear for Youngs / Murray and Sexton

        He’s been far and away their best performer in the backrow and we need tactics to lessen his effect on the game

  7. Tipuric, O’Brien, Heaslip for me next week. The lions need to attack much more and get them on the back foot. Yes the defense was good and the number of turnovers high but as we saw, it’s unlikely that they will hold out the aussies for the whole match.. I don’t think its a coincidence that Wales have lost so many matches by less than three points to aus. My only concern is that tipuric hasn’t played in the last tests atall and the intensity may be a shock. Heaslip should play to bring some leadership, as Warb is out, although Faletau does deserve a chance . Also, i thought Heaslip took as many lineouts in the first test as Croft, so surely the lions also had three options this week with him, AWJ and Parling.

  8. It is time for Tuilagi – neither centre has shone in the tests (albeit with pretty poor ball). Jonathan Davies defence has been exposed, and BOD is simply not as good as he was.

    Roberts was average in all the warmups bar the Barbarians game (where he played v well).

    Tuilagi’s passes to BOD in perth and to Maitland in Melbourne were some of the best play seen on tour.

    HE MUST START. if Dan Carter says he’s the best, i’m with him.

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