15. Rob Kearney: 7
It was a solid but unspectacular day out for the Irish fullback who managed to make 90 metres but never really threatened too much. Swept up at the back and always looked solid but is in the desperately unlucky situation of having a certain Leigh Halfpenny ahead of him.
14. Sean Maitland: 7
A mixed bag from Maitland who showed his blistering pace at times but was also a little loose. Super support work saw him feature in the build-up to his own try, which he finished well. With Bowe and Tuilagi returning from injury his place in the test squad will be fiercely under threat.
13. Manu Tuilagi: 7.5
Strong surge and deft offload in the build-up to Maitland’s try was one of the highlights of the match but he was well marshalled other than that. Made 11 carries and, more tellingly for Tuilagi, five passes – not a huge number by any means, but enough to be conspicuous for a player who has been accused of just putting his head down at times.
12. Brad Barritt: 6.5
Much better than last week from Barritt, who at least showed some endeavour with ball in hand. Never going to set a back-line alight, but there was one nice moment when he grubbered the ball through in a very O’Driscoll-like manner. Eight tackles point to his usual work rate in defence.
11. Simon Zebo: 8
Chants of ‘Zeeeebooooooo’ went up around AAMI Park, and rightly so as it was a fantastic performance from the Munster winger. He was so busy, always looking to get his hands on the ball and while he often found himself with little room to work with the Quade Cooper-esque pass/offload towards the end of the game was a joy to behold.
10. Owen Farrell: 9
Where has this Farrell been hiding? Said after the game he had been asked to play flatter and wider, and the coaches could not have asked for more. Attacked the gain-line, made half-breaks and looked for the offload, and even took two quick-tap penalties. Oh, and continued his flawless kicking. Lions fans can rest easily knowing all is not lost should injury befall Sexton.
9. Conor Murray: 7.5
Another excellent performance from Murray who has had a quietly impressive tour. Unlikely to usurp Youngs or Phillips in the test squad, but gave his all for the midweek team once again. Opportunistic try, featuring a perfectly poised pirouette, capped a good day for the Irishman.
1. Ryan Grant: 8
Thrust himself right into test contention with a busy and powerful performance. The scrums dominated, as was expected, but it was his work rate in the loose that impressed the most – five carries and seven tackles are a strong return for a prop. With concerns over Vunipola’s scrummaging far from allayed, could he be an unlikely test starter?
2. Richard Hibbard: 7
The most encouraging aspect of Hibbard’s performance was his line-out throwing, as after a couple of wayward darts to begin with he regained his composure and from then on it was largely smooth sailing. He is hard to miss with his shock of blond hair and got through a lot of work – the only blemish came in the form of four missed tackles.
3. Dan Cole: 6.5
The scrum looked infinitely more assured than it did on Saturday when Cole came on, and both coaches and Cole alike will be happy with that. Outside of the set-piece, however, there was little to shout about for the Leicester-man who knocked-on in a promising position and was fairly anonymous elsewhere.
4. Richie Gray: 7.5
Hands down Gray’s best performance of the tour. He made several promising runs and totalled 11 tackles, no mean feat for a man with plenty of other responsibilities. Probably just nosed ahead of Evans in the battle for the test bench spot.
5. Ian Evans: 7.5
Like Gray, this was probably his best performance of the tour and it was certainly encouraging to see them, along with Hibbard, clicking at line-out time after last week’s utter failure. Like Gray he put in a huge shift in defence, and was also the chief disrupter of Rebels ball at the line-out. Gatland has a very tough decision on his hands – as if he needed another one.
6. Dan Lydiate: 8
Super stuff from the skipper. Tackled his heart out as always, topping the stats with 15, and once again made these tackles count, stopping men dead behind the gain-line. There was also a gorgeous bit of handling to put O’Brien over for his try. Pushing Croft all the way for a starting spot on Saturday.
7. Sean O’Brien: 8
Another stirling outing for the Irish loose-forward. Offloads, tackles, turnovers, carries and even a try – there was very little missing from O’Brien’s performance. Desperately unlucky to be competing for places in an area with such an array of talent.
8. Toby Faletau: 9
Should start instead of Heaslip on Saturday. Faletau was absolutely everywhere to offer himself in both attack and defence – the man simply never stops running. 16 carries, 60 metres made, six defenders beaten, 13 tackles – sometimes stats don’t tell you everything, but in this case they at least highlight just how hard Faletau worked, and some of the change he got for that effort.
Ben Youngs was the big winner here, coming off the bench to show just how snappy he can be with a well-taken try showcasing all of his pace and awareness. Elsewhere Tipuric worked well at the breakdown, Rory Best seemed to banish his line-out demons from a week ago and Billy Twelvetrees and Stuart Hogg had a much happier time of things than they did in Canberra.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images