British and Irish Lions v Barbarians: Lions player ratings

15. Stuart Hogg – 7
Solid stuff from the Scot as he looked dangerous in attack and secure in defence, on the rare occasion he was tested. Offers something different to the Lions’ other options at fullback.

14. Alex Cuthbert – 8
Took his brace of tries very well, and generally looked dangerous with ball in hand. His powerful running is a real asset.

13. Jonathan Davies – 7
They always say play to whistle, and that is exactly what Davies did for his try after what looked like two knock-ons. Replays proved, however, that he was completely right to keep chasing the ball. Partnership with Roberts looked good.

12. Jamie Roberts – 8.5
A superb performance from Roberts proved that, since finishing his medical exams just before the England game, he is back to his best. Cut beautiful lines and backed it up with all his strength to crash over the gain line repeatedly. Over to you, Manu.

11. Sean Maitland – 7.5
Came as close as possible to scoring, but still looked mightily dangerous when given a bit of space. So much pace to burn, too.

10. Owen Farrell – 6.5
Looked rattled in the first half, but really Schalk Brits was completely out of line so he can be forgiven to a certain extent. Not the commanding performance he needed, though, and doesn’t look like challenging Sexton for the test jersey yet.

9. Mike Phillips – 9
Deservedly man of the match after a superb performance that combined power, pace and opportunism. Took advantage of very weak fringe defending to cross for a brace that puts him already in pole position for the scrum-half test berth.

1. Mako Vunipola – 7.5
Part of a front row that completely dominated their Barbarian counterparts, and there were also his usual deft touches around the park. His offloading ability is second to none in the prop world.

2. Richard Hibbard – 7
Humidity and heat made conditions uncomfortable in all facets of the game, line-out included – for that reason Hibbard deserves credit for keeping that platform solid.

3. Adam Jones – 8.5
Another of the Welshmen to really stand-out, Adam Jones had his compatriot Paul James on toast in the Barbarian scrum. Super stuff from the man who is undoubtedly no.1 choice in this position.

4. Paul O’Connell – 8
If O’Connell was a risky selection given his lack of game time this season, it does not show. Dealt with horrid conditions superbly, setting an example for the rest of the team. Even managed to cross for a rare try.

5. Richie Gray – 7
Solid if unspectacular from the big, shaggy-haired lock. Got his hands on the ball to good effect, but is still not reaching the heights of a season ago. More to come.

6. Dan Lydiate – 7
Tackled everything that moved, as is his wont, and was another unlikely try scorer among the Lions’ ranks. Huge work rate in horrible heat and humidity was impressive.

7. Justin Tipuric – 8
Snaffled some good ball at the breakdown as always, but was more impressive in his link play in the wide areas. On this evidence, will push Warburton and O’Brien all the way for the test spot.

8. Toby Faletau – 8
17 carries are evidence of his superb work rate in testing conditions. In a two way battle for the test shirt he laid down an early marker, and Heaslip will know he has to better this sort of performance if he is to usurp Faletau.

Tom Youngs’ line-out throwing held strong in difficult conditions, which will have enthused Gatland. Murray and Sexton looked like a strong half-back partnership when they came on, and upped the ante as the Barbarians faltered towards the end of the game. Some strong ball-carrying from Cian Healy was evidence of his ability, while Alun-Wyn Jones and George North both made admirable impacts.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

52 thoughts on “British and Irish Lions v Barbarians: Lions player ratings

  1. I’ve said it my last post but I just can’t believe you’re giving Adam Jones an 8.5. In the scrum he was so illegal. It wasn’t even well hidden, how Walsh didn’t see it I don’t know. For me, unless he sorts that out then Dan Cole offers more in every other facet of the game than Adam Jones. The only reason I would initially have had Jones down over Cole is that he has been a superb scrummager. But unless Saturday was a one off in that regard, I wouldn’t play him. He was lucky Walsh got almost every call wrong or he would have had about five penalties to his name.

    1. I think it’s important to play the ref as much as the rules. Do you think the Aussies won’t do the same should they get the chance?

      1. I understand that, and absolutely. But he was continually breaking every scrummaging rule. It certainly was not impressive scrummaging. If he can continue to get away with it then fine, but I would hate for it to be picked up on by a referee and see a load of penalties go against us in one of the tests.

        1. Point being you play to the ref’s calls, and the ref wasn’t calling it. Jones is experienced enough to adapt to the ref, and it wasn’t an issue on the day.

    2. It wasn’t luck that Walsh didn’t penalise him. Walsh is by far and away the most inept IRB ref when it comes to scrum time. Jones could scrummage however he liked because as long as the Baa Baas were going backwards, the Lions would get the penalty.
      Whether or not Jones continues to srummage illegally even under another ref is a different matter though.
      Funnily enough, Walsh actually did have words with a prop, but did so with Vunipola; whose scrummaging was largely legal. Must have been because he’s English…

      Back to tighthead, I would also choose Cole. Jones’ scrummaging advantage is less of an advantage against Australia because they play such a back oriented game.
      They frequently get dominated by forwards but continue to win games. Dan Cole has shown that he is capable of out scrummaging Australia, he was the cornerstone of securing 2 penalty tries in Perth 2010 yet Australia still won the game. Australia have a remarkable ability of detaching the pressure of the scrum from the the rest of the game.
      For that reason, Jones’ superior scrummaging is not worth Cole’s better workrate everywhere else. Against NZ, or SA, it would be. But against Australia it has to be Healy/Hibbard/Cole.
      Jones would be best used off the bench with 20 minutes to go, when the Australian backs are tired and less of threat. That’s when the pressure of the scrum gets to Australia and that’s when Halfpenny would close the game out with penalties.
      It’s not a game plan everybody would agree with (notably Gatland) but I think it is an option that uses the right strengths of the right players and at the right time.

      1. I completely agree with all of this. I think people think that because Jones is the better scrummager and Cole is good in the loose, that Cole can not scrummage. He is actually an excellent scrummager, and the same can not be said about Jones in the loose.

        1. Not everyone though agrees that Cole is better in the loose than Jones. It’s an opinion but not a universally accepted truth.

          This is getting awfully close to rehashing that 6N game now with suggestions that Walsh was “over refereeing” the English props…

          1. Not at all Brighty, drawing back to the 6N game is not something that any Englishmen wants to do. Lets remember that it was Jones who dominated Marler that lead to that particular days downfall for the English scrum.

            I understand that the Cole over Jones in the loose is an opinion, as is the opinion that Jones is stronger in the scrum than Cole. But lets be honest, most people agree with those statements.

          2. Jacob, I agree that opinions on the merits differ but I do think that “He is actually an excellent scrummager, and the same can not be said about Jones in the loose” is going too far. I think that Jones is excellent in the loose, he’d be too expensive for any team he played in if he wasn’t. Now whether or not he is better than Cole is where the opinions differ (and they do, not everyone agrees that Cole is better), but that’s the sort of small margins we are talking about when selecting Lions test starters.

          3. That is fair reading over my comments they do come across stronger than I wanted. I have stated below where I would like to see more from Jones. And as you said, it is deciding on Lions starters so they are both class. IMO, the difference between Jones and Cole in the loose is much larger than their difference at scrum time. Also, when selecting it may come down to how much importance you value on the scrum. Either way, TH is not a position I will worry about as long as these two players stay fit; they are both class.

          4. Not a universally accepted truth, no. But widely accepted? Yeah that seems about right.
            If I were to rate the two props in question on their abilities in the scrum and the loose; Jones would have a 9/10 in the scrum and a 5/10 in the loose.
            I’d give Cole a 7/10 in the scrum and a 9/10 in the loose (mainly breakdown work though).
            And against Australia, a team that is quite accustomed to having a retreating pack, I believe Cole’s 9 is more valuable than Jones’ 9. Simple as that.

            It’s quite odd that you bring up the Wales/England game up, and nationalism with it. This isn’t the 6 nations, these players aren’t playing for England, or Wales. Their Lions, period.
            I’ve written a lengthy paragraph in my previous comment on why I’d choose Cole over Jones, and every damn reason was a valid one based around a game plan. Apart from my sly dig at Walsh, I didn’t use the words English or Welsh once in my reasoning. There is absolutely no room for nationalism on a Lions tour. I couldn’t give a shit if you’re an Asiatic Lion or West African Lion, you’re a Lion.

          5. Walsh can’t referee to save his life! He is a disaster, no wonder the New Zealanders sent him packing to Oz. He is good at……………looking to see if he is pretty on screen!!!

          6. Tom, a direct quote from you:

            “Funnily enough, Walsh actually did have words with a prop, but did so with Vunipola; whose scrummaging was largely legal. Must have been because he’s English…”

            So you did mention English. You were the first to bring it up so I was merely responding to that, it was a clear reference to previous English games under Steve Walsh. You don’t get to mention it “once” then say that once wasn’t important and that nobody else should be mentioning countries.

            I disagree with your scores for Jones in the loose but we are not going to change each others mind about that.

  2. I think many of the criticisms of Farrell for reacting to Britz are harsh. His response was only a push and palm to the face. Had it been O’Connell he’d most likely come back with a big right-left combo and we’d have called him a hero!

    I know Farrell has been an idiot in the past and I’m not his biggest fan, but how he reacted was entirely justified. Hence yellow for Britz and penalty for Lions.

    1. it’s not the reaction to go for Brits so much as the whole incident was very much asking for it. That said, he was lucky to not get a yellow and penalty reversal himself for his reaction, particularly had he connected with his attempts to punch (I’ve seen it before). End of the day, if you’re going to get up to those sorts of shennanigans, you’ve got to not react badly when someone hits you. He seemed surprised to get punched. His applauding a yellow card was also deplorable.

      It wasn’t just that incident that made me worry about Farrell though, he just generally seemed rattled, like he did against France. Too easy to wind up and simply not good enough in attack, I’m just not impressed.

    2. Most people are going to react to a big left hook attempting to connect with their jaw. Can’t vilify him for his reaction, but WTF is a fly half doing holding a front row forward into a ruck? It’s just another example of him getting involved in cheap shots rather than concentrating on his own game.

      1. He didn’t attempt to punch Brits, his hand was open at all times and there was hardly any force behind it. He pushed him away and Brits fell over – given Brits could easily have broken his jaw and sent him home after the first game, I think his reaction was pretty damn mild.

        As for the ‘shennanigens’, he was only holding Brits into a ruck, something that happens a number of times per game by a number of different players. It was illegal, but incredibly mild as illegal play goes.

        Brits utterly over-reacted and could have seriously hurt Farrell. His applauding the card was poor but I can’t blame him too much given it should have been a straight red.

        I’m no fan of Farrell’s play normally but I think he was better in difficult conditions than he has been given credit for. The little chip that almost resulted in a try was brilliant.

        1. It was a great chip, the one off the outside of the boot that went straight to Payne (I think) was a shocker though. Would you want to see that down the throat of Falau?

          I don’t think he had an awful game, just on balance slightly sub par.

        2. To draw a line under it, I’m not condoning Brits’ response, but if you’re going to do something like Farrell did, you expect to get punched. If you’re prepared for it, you don’t react back. The nature of the offence and the spirit of the game just made Farrell look worse and he was at every risk that the referee might call his swings a punch, open handed or not. You’ll see usually the guy holding on gets whacked a few times and it’s up to him not to respond if he’s going to play like that.

          End of the day, if you wind someone up so much that they hit you, you have to be mature enough to accept that you deserved it and get on with the game. not leap over petulantly and try and get him while his back’s turned. Referees miss discrete punches, they don’t miss people running forward and trying to get someone.

      2. Matt your comments are harsh on Farrell. Holding someone into a ruck happens 100 times a game, and never does someone react the way Brits did. I am no fan of Farrell, and to be honest I can’t believe a 10 with such a limited skill set is a Lion. BUT, he was in no way wrong in this incident.

        My friends and I are pretty convinced that Brits has wanted to whack Farrell for years, and just took his chance!

        1. Agree a sly arm keeping a player in is part of the game, but standing there having a conversation with Brits about it wasn’t sly/subtle. Nor was applauding Brits off the field. These are not the actions of someone who comes across as more interested in putting himself about than concentrating on his own game.

  3. Thought Jon Davies deserved an 8, his link play was usual high standard with one sublime offload in very difficult conditions.most scores are about right although Maitland didn’t quite deserve 7.5

  4. Phillips played a blinder, but his unwillingness to offload still worries me. I know he had a bit to prove in this game, and he deserved both his tries and MoM, but at times he does look like he thinks like he can take on the entire opposition defence himself.

    All this Welsh guff about “playing the ref” is nonsense. Walsh had obviously been told to let the game flow, but after the Six Nations, refs are going to be all over that once the games get serious. If we let the Aussies drag us down to that level we are just going to end up exchanging tit-for-tat penalties and free kicks after endless scrum breakdowns – and no-one wants to see that. The Lions have enough quality and muscle in the front row to beat the Aussies legally, and I bloody hope that’s what Rowntree is coaching them to do.

    You’re right that Farrell didn’t do much to challenge for the 10 jersey, but Sexton’s kicking was a bit of a worry, he missed a sitter at the end. I think Gatland will have come away from that with more questions than answers (O’Connell, Lydiate, Maitland all put their hands up).

    1. I’m English.. I know there’s normally a few strong Welsh biases within the comments, but that wasn’t one of them. Playing the ref is part of any sport. Richie McCaw, Neil Back etc built their entire careers on it.

  5. Sexton over Farrell any day of the week. Sexton doesn’t need to kick if Halfpenny’s on the pitch – lovely Leigh’s got that covered :)

  6. I agree with Tess, if Halpfenny plays he should be the goal kicker, Sexton offers so much more than Farrell in every other facet of the game, im disappointed that is treated o’brien as a 7 meaning he’ll have to compete with tipuric and warburton but at 6 i feel he offers as much as croft and lydiate.

      1. Yes – mystified as to why O’Brien is competing for 7. I do hear though that Gatland rates Lydiate as an essential player so it could be that it’s the only way to possible shoehorn O’Brien’s runs in?

        1. If that’s true, it concerns me.

          Yes Lydiate WAS brilliant. Is he his old self after his long lay-off? We don’t know yet. Seems self-defeating to regard him as essential before we know whether he can reach his previous heights

  7. Wasn’t sold on Lydiate, but then it wasn’t really the kind of match in which he’d shine. At least he looks almost back to fitness

    Hopefully Philips can vary his game. His direct running was all very well against a poorly organised Baa-Baas defence, but if he tries that vs Aus he may well get isolated and turned by the Aussie back-row. His passing was laboured and inaccurate, so I hope he can pick that side of his game up.

    Also hope that Gatland plays Youngs on the bench as Conor Murray is just a ersatz version of Phillips and if one isn’t working, the other won’t. Youngs would offer a different option.

    Good to see Jamie Roberts looking almost back to his destructive best. And North looked a handful when he came on

    Vunipola showed a little of what he can offer with some well-timed off-loads.

    Tipuric I thought was excellent. Good at the breakdown and superb at liking play. He seems to have that knack of being in the right place at the right time

  8. Ratings I slightly differ on:
    – Lydiate 6: Largely anonymous, made 6 tackles. Admittedly there wasn’t much to tackle but hoped to see more from him.
    – Maitland 6.5: Showed scorching pace, but didn’t finish (remember Ugo Moyne last tour?)
    – Farrell 5.5: A 6 is a ‘par’ game for me, although there were a few nice touches and goal kicking was excellent on balance the performance was just below par.
    – Vunipola 8: Scrummaged well against Castro, the left hand side of the scrum seemed to advance almost as often as the right hand side. He also got his hands on the ball 17 times in 54 mins, bar a couple of early bar of soap moments there were some great touches. This is the same number as Tipuric managed in 80, and second only to Faletau in the pack. He also topped the stats for numbers of offloads and is joint 3rd in the list of defenders beaten!

    Honourable mention to Richie Gray, to go for 80 mins in those conditions in your first game since the 6N was really encouraging. I’m optimistic he is going to find his best form.

    No issues with Adam Jones, if you get away with it you carry on doing it (Richie McCaw!) It’s only a problem if you get pinged and don’t adjust.

  9. Adam Jones. He must love it when he sees the name of Walsh as a referee. Of course, if you play to the ref, and succeed you are a hero, and of course part of the skill of any international player – particularly in the front-row, is to play to the ref’s interpretation of the laws. I have no issue with this at all, but it has to be viewed in the context of more than one game (or two if you count the Wal/Eng) game.

    What happens when another ref views it differently? I happen to think that Jones probably is a better scrummager than Cole, but I am not sure that he is that much better, and would suggest that Cole is far better than Jones away from the scrum. I won’t comment on Stevens. However, I do not believe that we are talking about either/or for the Tests here. We are talking about who starts, and who finishes each test, as I have absolutely no doubt that both Jones and Cole will play in every Test (if fit).

    Not entirely unrelated, did anyone see the England game yesterday (online at ESPN South America). Corbisiero replaced Marler at around 60 mins, got pinged at 3 successive scrums for collapsing, got a yellow, replaced by Marler who kept the next scrum up and moving forward (as had almost every scrum before Marler went off).

    Does this make Marler a better scrummager than Corbisiero? Or is the second-choice Uraguayan TH THAT good?

    1. Didn’t see the game Blub, but I do think Marler is far better than he has recently been credited for. During the 6N he admittedly got schooled by France and Wales, but he’s young and these are learning experiences.

      From the sound of it, he’s bounced right back.

      Corbisiero probably needs some game time after a long time off to get back to his competitive best

      1. Pablito, i think that the reality was that the first scrum – Corbissiero came straight on into a scrum – the TH drove him down and won the penalty, on the ref’s assumption that the new prop wasn’t up to pace.

        He did exactly the same on the second and third, winning two more penalties and then when the smaller Marler came on, didn’t (or couldn’t).

        My point was that I don’t think this was a reflection on either of the props, more a reflection of how the ref interpreted it.

    2. I wouldn’t worry about Adam. Yes, his last two internationals have been reffed by Walsh (My opinion over how much this benefited him/us differs obviously) but his other games in this years 6N were also class and he was not reffed by Walsh. He was also the standout prop in 2009. I’d seriously not worry about Adam, he is going to be the top scrummaging prop.

        1. Does it show?

          He is the cornerstone player for Wales. When he’s out we usually play poorly, when he is in we tend to play well. All of our best form in the last five years has coincided with when he has been fit and well.

          There is undoubtedly bias on both sides (shock, horror, it’s not just the Welshies who are biased). Adam’s name seems a bit like mud in some parts as he is now viewed as a cheat who illegally helped Wales to a significant win, the inference being that the illegality was crucial to the win. I think he therefore gets a lot of grief and is still unfairly seen as a fat lump who is a bit hopeless in the loose.

          1. I don’t agree with how you are taking these opinions brighty. That isn’t meant as an insult, just that you are taking them slightly too far. Jones is not as good as Cole in the loose (IMO), but that is not to suggest he is a fat lump, in fact the only person I have heard suggest that is you (although obviously not seriously). Jones is not hopeless in the loose at all, but it would be nice if he looked more comfortable with the ball in hand, and also if he used his weight in defence a little more. It is not fair to start suggesting he should make the amount of turnovers that Cole gets, because that isn’t really fair to ask of a prop, but I think the other areas in the loose are things he could improve on.

            And about the bias, I do try not to be – but let’s be honest we can all fall victim to it! Mind you, that isn’t to say I’d have many more English players on that plane, if any in fact.

          2. It’s not just your preference for Cole though Jacob that I am responding to e.g.

            “Funnily enough, Walsh actually did have words with a prop, but did so with Vunipola; whose scrummaging was largely legal. Must have been because he’s English…”

            Another little dig at the Welsh result in the 6N. I’m not taking offence at any of it but it does start to paint a cumulative picture.

            And you are right, I used “fat lump” in jest to refer back to the time when one of our previous Kiwi coaches called him the same.

            We’re all agreed that in Cole and Jones we have the 2 best TH’s we could possibly have (well, at least I think we are all agreed…).

          3. Wales do look like a different team when Jones is fit and playing. He seems to be almost talismanic for them

            But then the Lions looked like a better team with him last tour and a worse team after Botha injured him, so maybe he has that effect on everyone he plays with.

            He does have a tendency to bind on the arm but he’s too good a player not to change up if it starts getting called. I really don’t think that’s all he’s got in his box of tricks.

            To have both him and Cole is great for the Lions

          4. We do agree Brighty – honestly – that Cole and Jones are the tow best TH’s.

            Hopefully you will not take this as a dig at Wales/the Welsh/Adam Jones/You, but reading Jones’s column on the BBC website, and a previous article a few weeks ago in the Sunday Times, I have rather warmed to him. He seems a really genuine guy.

          5. Blub, I have met him and he is a really nice guy. Very accommodating to young excited fans. I mean my son obviously.

  10. Like most of these ratings. Farrell at 6 is about right.

    Pleased Roberts is high, I thought he was MOM. I’ve been sceptical about his form of late (which I stand by) but I thought he was excellent on Sat, if he can perform to the same level against decent opposition the place is his. Interested to see how BOD/Tuilagi go on Wed now!

    Phillips played very well in nearly all areas, showing off his strengths, but I still think his passing was woeful. Obviously this can improve, but when defences are tighter and his passing is more important I worry.

    Jones was very good, I hear the criticisms of his scrumming technique but if he can get away with it so be it. I agree with the Springbok coach personally that Cole is an all round better player, but Jones showed lots of good stuff in the loose on sat, one delightful scoop off the ground-pass in particular. Position of strength.

    Lydiate too high though. 5 at best. Lots of people tackled a lot.

  11. @Brighty, that Vunipola/Walsh comment was not a dig at the Wales/England game. It was a dig at Walsh’s blatant bias against England. A bias that he has shown in more than one game you know. Do you really think THAT game was the only game Walsh has shown his disdain against England?
    I’ve always said that Walsh’s incompetence at the scrum merely affected the margin of the game, not the result. Wales were the better team. End of.

    You’re implying nationalistic undertones in pretty much every comment that criticises a Welsh player. I expected something like this when I suggested that Cole could start. But this cumulative picture? You’re creating that picture yourself with paints that don’t even exist pal.
    Like I’ve said, Asiatic or Barbary, you’re a Lion.

    1. You’re reading something that isn’t there “pal”, creating a picture yourself with paints that don’t exist. I suggest we just agree to disagree.

  12. Any front row the lions could field should scrummage better than any current aussie front row IMO. Seeing as Adam offers less around the park than the other props on tour I fail to see why he should be selected. (Also: he will definately get pinged for binding on the arm in a test match!)

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