Waratahs v Lions: Lions player ratings

15: Leigh Halfpenny: 9
Another superb outing from Halfpenny, who has put to bed any lingering debate about whether or where he will start the first test – this is his shirt. Another 100% kicking display, as well as two tries that showed his clinical side.

14. Sean Maitland: 6
Has failed to stamp his authority on a position that he could have made his own, given the injury issues in the backline. Missed a couple of important tackles and was reasonably anonymous in attack.

13. Jonathan Davies: 9.5
Was this the performance of the tour so far? Probably. Davies was sublime in everything he did, making an astonishing 141 metres with ball in hand, laying on three assists as well as scoring one himself. A performance to convince the doubters that he will be fine should he be called into action for the first test.

12. Jamie Roberts: 7.5
Outshone by his centre partner, not for the first time on this tour, but it was a more encouraging performance from the big centre who carried hard and didn’t miss a tackle. With injury likely to rule him out of the first test, the Lions will have to reorganise their midfield defence in his absence.

11. Simon Zebo: 8
Was a blade of grass away from scoring with almost his first touch in a Lions shirt, and continued to look a threat every time he got the ball, despite not crossing the line himself.

10. Johnny Sexton: 8
Further confirmation, as if it was needed, that Sexton is vital to the Lions’ game plan. Crossed for a try of his own, while also standing admirably flat and attacking the gainline despite the unwanted attentions of several of the Waratahs’ pack.

9. Mike Phillips: 7
The Phillips/Sexton axis is starting to gel quite nicely, and although this wasn’t the headline-grabbing performance the scrum-half put in earlier in the tour, it was still a good one.

1. Mako Vunipola: 7
Scrummaging issues in the form of early engagements reared their head at the wrong time as we head into the first test. Was as destructive with ball in hand as ever, but will be under pressure from Corbisiero, who provides more stability at scrum time.

2. Tom Youngs: 8.5
10 tackles and an almost perfect day at the line-out mean he is pushing Hibbard very close for the starting test spot at hooker. Line-out demons seem all but banished.

3. Adam Jones: 7
Solid stuff from the shaggy-haired Welshman. Made his tackles and was never troubled at the scrum.

4. Alun-Wyn Jones: 9.5
Joint MOTM with Davies. Made a series of superb carries and tackled anything that moved. Has played his way past Parling and Gray into the test team with one incredible performance.

5. Paul O’Connell: 8.5
With a tackle count of 12, he made more than anyone else in the team – no mean feat for such a giant man. Physicality was back to its peak, and his partnership with Jones is one that the Lions should take into the first test.

6. Tom Croft: 9
This was the Croft performance we have been waiting for. Skinned the quickest man in the Waratahs squad for a try that no other blindside (or the majority of wingers) could have scored. Was also superb at the line-out, but we’re used to that by now too. Confessed after the game that he likes to (and is quite possibly told to) ‘hang out on the wing’, but when he score tries like that, who cares?!

7. Sam Warburton: 8.5
A collective sigh of relief went up around Lions fans worldwide after Warburton’s performance, as the Welshman had one of his best outings for some time. Confirmed that his partnership with Croft can be successful. Snaffled ball at the breakdown and made all of his tackles. Great stuff from the captain.

8. Jamie Heaslip: 7
Made some strong carries, as we know he can, but also missed four tackles – not a good stat. Against a combative Australian back-row, will Gatland plump for the more reliable Faletau? Quite possibly.

The brightest spark from the bench was probably Ben Youngs, whose speed and acceleration around the fringes was at time too much for tired Waratahs’ legs. With this likely to be the set-up against the Aussies too, it was encouraging. Corbisiero shored up the scrum and looks set for test inclusion against all the odds, while Richard Hibbard did nothing calamitous to ease Gatland’s selection headache at hooker.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

19 thoughts on “Waratahs v Lions: Lions player ratings

  1. Completely agree with these ratings, spot on. I think after Davies was firstly classed as the outsider for the tests, with injury’s and some great performances from him, he has managed to work his way in to the test spot and would love to see him start the first test.

    My Test 15 would be –
    15. Leigh Halfpenny
    14. Simon Zebo
    13. Brian O’Driscoll
    12. Jonathan Davies
    11. George North (If Fit)
    10. Jonathan Sexton
    9. Mike Phillips
    1. Mako Vunipola
    2. Richard Hibbard
    3. Adam Jones
    4. Alun Wyn-Jones
    5. Paul O’Connell
    6. Tom Croft
    7. Sam Warburton (c)
    8. Jamie Heaslip

  2. Take about 1 point off all those scores (2 points off in Adam Jones’ case) and it’d be better.

  3. Agree. Backline with the exception of Halfpenny and JD should all be one less. Bit high for the back row in my opinion. Front five were good. Heaslip nearly played himself out of a starting job.

  4. On the Adam Jones point, I’m not usually a supporter of his, but the scrum was it’s usual solid self and he actually made quite a few tackles round the fringes. He’s never going to be an open running ball handling prop, but what he did, I thought he did fairly well. He’s sort of won me over on this tour. Am actually a bit worried by Cole’s scrummaging. Hopefully will be proved wrong.

    1. Adam Jones is like Marmite, or even like Tom Croft. Once you see what he does you realise he is indispensable, as Wales have done. A cornerstone on which to build a team and a performance. Any thought of him not being the starting tight is madness. Madness.

      1. agree with Brighty.

        another thing i feel about Adam Jones is that the worst you will ever see him play is “average/solid”.

        he may not always dominate the scrum, but he never goes back either. he makes tackles, hits rucks and scrums.

        an on form Cole could push him for a test spot, but it would always be tight. Cole has some good and some bad game. His scrummaging has gone downhill also, and that is not pleasing. for that reason alone he has consigned himself to the bench behind Adam.

  5. A lot of pundits gave 1/2p a 10. He is looking supernaturally brilliant.

    How exciting was it to watch JD like that? However much you think it was, it’s 100s times that for a Welshman. What a young man we have to come back to us.

    So then on to Tom Croft, to kick the vipers nest once more – you either like him or you don’t I think. If you want free roaming back rowers able to score tries like wings then yes, 9.

    My problem is that I disagree with the assertion that a lot of wings would have had trouble scoring that. He had a wing outside him who could have scored it. I’d rather have seen him defensively tight for the Wah’s score under the posts. I’d rather see him up there in the tackle counts. This is a preference – he made a jest about hanging out on the wing but “many a true word..”. It’s not disparaging to say he hangs out on the wing, it’s a fact he acknowledges (yes, I know he doesn’t do it the whole game) – it’s his game style. It would be like criticizing JW for hitting rucks when other 10s wouldn’t touch them. It’s what these players do and you either think that fits with what you think the team needs to do or you don’t. So hopefully I’ve explained fully why for me he gets a 7 for Saturday – this isn’t saying he’s rubbish it’s just that for me the stuff I would want my 6 to do, and hence enable my 7, 8 and 10 to play, isn’t what Croft does and I see problems with that e.g. the tight defence. He’s still my choice to start at 6 on Saturday as I don’t see the other options competing with him now.

    Fantastic try, well taken but we’ve got the backs with the size and pace to score those on the park already. It looks amazing when a forward does it. If Adam Jones did that but was only passable in the scrum then I’d want him out of the team.

    1. Damn it. I pretty much agree with with everything Brighty says here (and in the Adam Jones comment above). Its getting worrying.

      I’d have Lydiate or SOB on the blind-side. As Brighty says, we have enough big men on the wing. ‘Tho perhaps if North is crocked, we could actually play Croft on the wing…

      (Do, however, disagree with Brighty that a lot of wingers
      could have scored that try. The vast majority wouldn’t have the strength or arms long enough for the hand-off – obviously excepting wingers the size of North and Cuthbert. Think that both Maitland and ebo would have been caught by the tackle)

    2. The reason Croft is getting praised for this tour is that he is suddenly doing A LOT MORE than score great tries/win lineout.

      We all know he is a rock in the lineout and a freak in atttack, but on sat he was over the ball, winning turnovers and slowing it down, and making more tackles (although he missed 1).

      1. Less than 50% of the tackles Lydiate made against the Reds and less than 50% of the carries that SOB made midweek. The choices are clear, you go Lydiate to chop down trees, SOB to bash down walls, Croft to win lineout ball and make busts out wide.

        There is no evidence that Croft’s work rate is anywhere near comparable to Lydiate or SOB though.

        1. Matt, i see the point you are trying to make, but i personally dont totally agree.

          Lydiate may have made a high number of tackles in the Reds game, but he also had 1m gained from 6 carries.

          SOB may carry 20 times against a bunch of semi-pros, but how many rucks is he hitting?

          As Scott Johnson said “stats are like a girl in a bikini, they show you a lot, but not everything”

          Croft would be quite easily argued as the most complete of the 3 6’s.
          Croft also offers world class support lines. often when a player scores, you will see croft is just behind them (very obvious in the Force game – right on BOD’s shoulder for most breaks)

    3. If they want Croft then Warburton (if it was ever in doubt) and Faletau become essential for physicality and workrate.

      With Fale & Warburton you’ve got similar styles of players to Salvi & Crane at Tigers and that balance works really well.

      I’m a little bit uncomfortable that Faletau is starting tomorrow, would have preferred to see SOB moved to 8, Lydiate 6 and Fale on the bench.

  6. Halfpenny corrected one of the issues that I’ve had with him in his Lions games. Regardless of stats on him not missing a tackle for Wales in x tests, I also hadn’t seen him make many. There was also an issue of his lack of coming into the line well for attack. What I’ve seen of him now, he’s doing both those things very well.

    I like Adam Jones, I watch him closely, I just don’t think he’s playing well enough, but Dan Cole hasn’t had the time in the “big games” to impress – he played at loosehead off the bench against the Reds which was hardly a brilliant opportunity.

    I think Tom Youngs has done enough to show how important he is. His lineout success so far on tour is 100%, his work in the loose is superb and he’s such a strong defender. Has to be starting over Hibbard who I think has only been alright.

    Jon Davies looked great. I’d still rather see Manu and BOD, but Manu and JD or BOD and JD depending on where the injuries are going would hardly be difficult to take.

    AWJ had a superb game which is just making the 2nd row selection more difficult. POC pretty much has to be there, but could you really leave Parling out?

    All in all, the game just showed that there are a lot of good options in the Lions squad. I still feel Tipuric should be the choice over Warburton and I doubt I’ll see that, but the game gave the Lions the opportunity to get a good performance out.

  7. The only caveat on Jonathan Davis, and I hate to say Stuart Barnes picked up on it, is that despite a great attacking performance when pressured he still messes up his defence. Actually happened a few times in the game.

    With Beale’s problems and Dagg’s lack of form, Halfpenny i’d say must be the best fullback in the world at this moment in time.

  8. Good ratings. Though, you say POC topped the tackle count with 12. He didn’t, Warburton topped it with 16.

  9. the only thing coft adds to the back row is his line out jumping. bod hits more rucks and makes more tackes than croft and he is 34. If i were the coach id go o brien / lydiate and heaslip at 8 giving the same line out option. cant stand tom croft a 6 he is like a lanky weed.

  10. Test Team 15 Halfpenny. 8 Faletau. 16 Youngs
    17 Cole 18 Vunipola 19 Gray

    14 Cuthbert. 7 Warburton C. 20 Tipuric. 21 Youngs 22 Zebo
    13 BOD. 6 Croft
    12 Johnny Fox. 5 AWJ. 23 Hogg
    11 North. 4 POC
    10 Sexton. 3 Jones
    9 Phillips. 2 Hibberd. 1 Corbisiero

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