Western Force v British and Irish Lions: Lions player ratings

15. Leigh Halfpenny: 8.5
No more needs be said about his kicking – 100% from all corners of the pitch speaks for itself. Will never have the explosiveness that Hogg does, but did show some lovely touches in attack when joining the line.

14. Tommy Bowe: 7.5
Grabbed a try and looked menacing every time he got the ball. Great to see him threatening again like that, given his lack of game time over the past year.

13: Brian O’Driscoll: 8
Can anyone still claiming he is past his best stop now please? Scored two tries, the first involving a beautiful exchange of hands with George North and the second needing intelligent and well-timed support play to follow Tuilagi through a hole.

12. Manu Tuilagi: 7.5
Was kept reasonably quiet, but look how much space that opened up for the men around him. His partnership with O’Driscoll, if given time to gel, could become one of the most devastating ever seen. Beautifully soft hands after a typically barnstorming break sent the captain over for his try – this is a combo everyone wants to see more of.

11. George North: 8
Really relishes playing under Gatland, who loves to get him into the game as much as possible. And why not? He may not have scored a try but a series of crashing carries and outrageous offloads proved what a weapon he can be. Slowly inking his name onto the test team sheet.

10. Johnny Sexton: 7.5
Got the back line into the game well and waltzed through a huge gap for his try. Has a propensity to go for the crossfield kicks a bit too often, but it was nice to see him working some wrap-arounds with Tuilagi, who looked comfortable outside him. Still ahead of Farrell for the test jersey.

9. Conor Murray: 6
Solid but unspectacular. Ben Youngs looked much nippier, but it must be said he was running at tired legs. Murray needs to add more strings to his bow if he is to avoid the label of a poor man’s Mike Phillips.

1. Cian Healy: 5
Desperately unfortunate to be stretchered off early with an ankle injury. Did concede a couple of scrum penalties before that, however, but there wasn’t long enough for a proper judgment to be made.

2. Rory Best: 5
Line-out creaked at times, and he certainly didn’t convince the naysayers that he has rectified this area of his game since the Six Nations. Still looking like third choice hooker.

3. Dan Cole: 6
Another to go solidly without heaping pressure on the man in front of him for the test shirt. Didn’t dominate the scrum as he would have liked.

4. Alun-Wyn Jones: 6.5
Got through his usual mountain of work with 11 tackles, but was not as successful with ball in hand as he would have liked. Will need another big performance before test selection comes around in what is a fiercely competitive area.

5. Ian Evans: 6
Similar to Jones in that he wasn’t as conspicuous with ball in hand has he could have been. Did everything else relatively well, but nothing special.

6. Tom Croft: 7
Stumbled over the line for an easy try and was pleasantly combative in the tight. Didn’t get the chance to stretch his legs as we all know he can.

7. Sean O’Brien: 8
Warburton must be looking on increasingly nervously as O’Brien, just like Tipuric before him, put in a titanic shift on the open-side. Consistently got himself over the gain-line and also showed some lovely hands in the link-man role – a strategy that is looking like a good one. Some strong turnovers early on, as well.

8. Jamie Heaslip: 9
Where was this player in the Six Nations? Heaslip seems to shift up a gear in a Lions shirt, and perhaps unburdened by the captaincy he can concentrate solely on his game. Carried with purpose and presence, and thoroughly deserved his try after making the initial break. Made 118 metres from 16 carries and put in 12 tackles. Comfortably MOTM for us.


Mako Vunipola made another huge contribution, ploughing consistently over the gain-line and throwing offloads most centres would be proud of. Tom Youngs is a great impact player, Geoff Parling took his try well and Toby Faletau was another who showed some nice hands. Ben Youngs was very nippy when on the pitch and looks a good shout to come off the bench and run at tired legs, while it was impressive to see Owen Farrell bounce back with a well-taken try.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

20 thoughts on “Western Force v British and Irish Lions: Lions player ratings

    1. Didn’t see the game, but the front 5 were clearly well below par based on these ratings.

    2. i agree totally with Steve. 6 is very generous for Evans.

      AWJ didnt have his best game, but he warranted more than a 6.5 if Evans is rated as 6.

      in my eyes evan went into the tour being one of the most questionable selections, and he has to go a long way to prove it wrong.

  1. Were you watching every Ruck, Steve? I doubt you were. Evans did his shift, no more no less. Without him on the pitch though things would have been different.

  2. I have to agree with Steve. Both 2nd rows were very anonymous. PoC and Gray are still ahead followed by Parling.

    Not sure that Manu deserved as high as 7.5. He looks knackered and disinterested until the English halfbacks came on. Granted that set up for BoD was great, but that was all he did all game. Bit like the Premiership Final

    1. He played 12 brilliantly, close to the level that Roberts had shown. Unlike Roberts though Tuilagi didn’t have any of his countrymen to accompany him in the backs. At one point he even acted as scrum half.

  3. Strange opinion which you’re entitled to, Rampant. AWJ put in a huge shift and hit just about every ruck and defended very well. People forget what a second row’s primary role is…..ruck, ruck, ruck.

  4. I haven’t seen the game, although I did follow it through Twitter – which gave an interesting and very varied perspective.

    Based on the above comments I would say that “knackered” and “disinterested” were not words I noticed in association with Tuilagi from any obvious corner of Twitter. In fact the general Twitter consensus suggested a mark higher than 7.

    I will watch with interest later on.

    1. I think what a lot of people miss is how many defenders Tuilagi draws to him, leaving space elsewhere. So even when he doesn’t make the headline breaks, his influence is still vital. I can’t think of another player in world rugby that worries defences in the same way – just see Dan Carter’s comments on Twitter recently!

      1. Agreed here. I haven’t seen todays game either yet but from comments on Twitter it all sounded very positive. And based on your comments about his performance in the Prem Final I’m already guessing I know how he played. I thought he was excellent in the Prem Final- passed well, tacked well, offloads and then when it was on, showed his pace and power to score a decisive try.

        Surely a Tuilagi that does all his basics and then shows his power when it is really on is a far better option that the headline maker that just puts his head down? Wasn’t this the Tuilagi people were calling for?

        For me, he has to start the Tests.

    2. Manu was great dunno about some of the people on here with their negative feedback, I’ve never seen him play like that in an England shirt, he kept getting over the gainline, showed some great touches and was as quick as the 2nd rows clearing out, aswell as hitting everything that ran towards him.

  5. These are pretty much spot on, maybe a 5 is a little harsh on Healey (gave away one penalty I recall for ‘hinging’, but some positive contributions as well)

    Think Vunipola should have a rating for playing 55 mins …. worthy of an 8!

  6. I think Sexton was better than 7.5? just my opinion, he takes the ball so flat and he has some delightful touches, halfpenny’s kicking was immense, this once and for all decides he has to be test starter and take on the kicking duties so sexton can just worry about his attacking play, hope healys ok but i was encouraged by vunipola and its gonna be tough for Jenkins to match that, best was ok but a bit dodgy at the lineout, i was slightly disappointed as I thought he can join and get the test jersey but he’s definitely 3rd choice atm. Heaslip and O’Brien were both gigantic today and have really put their hands up for a test jersey and I was impressed with the backs bar Murray who was good at times but hes not the same caliber as Phillips.

  7. Just watched the highlights having watched the match earlier, seeing Manu playing first receiver quite willingly was a very exciting thing. Thought he played very very well, very mature performance

  8. Two fairly easy warm up matches down and I am going to take a punt on selecting the fist test team based solely on the individual performances in each of those matches. It would probably look like this:

    1. M. Vunipola
    2. R. Hibbard
    3. A. Jones
    4. P. O’Connell
    5. R. Gray
    6. S. O’Brien
    7. J. Tupiric
    8. J. Heaslip

    9. M. Phillips
    10. J. Sexton
    11. G. North
    12. M. Tuilagi
    13. B. O’Driscoll
    14. A. Cuthbert
    15. L. Halfpenny

    16. T. Youngs
    17. C. Healy (Jenkins as injury cover)
    18. D. Cole
    19. A. W. Jones
    20. T. Faletau
    21. B. Youngs
    22. O. Farrell
    23. T. Bowe

    1. Pretty close to my team, I like AWJ in the second row but remember what happened to the scrum in the first test in SA with him and POC, they are a bit light weight and that cost vickery. As it looks as if POC is a shoe in, I like grey for the extra push, plus he is very mobile and will only get better on the tour.

      Thank God Hisleap is back, not that Faletau isn’t great but I believe he need some competition, Faletau still edges it at the moment.

      Tuilagi has to play, did you the space he creates just by being there, with 2 smooth operators like sexton and BOD, he looks much better.

      He wouldn’t make the team at the moment but I would like to see the try Hogg on the wing, difficult as Carney is injured, AUS have the best kicking game in the world and playing with 2 fullbacks could be useful, plus he has X-factor.

      I would also like to expose AUs at the back of the linout, that means Croft, it would give Phillips lots of the type of ball he likes to work off, however on form O’Brain at 7 Warbutton not in, never happen.

      1. M. Vunipola
      2. R. Hibbard
      3. A. Jones
      4. P. O’Connell
      5. R. Gray
      6. . Croft
      7. S. O’Brien
      8. T. Faletau
      9. M. Phillips
      10. J. Sexton
      11. G. North
      12. M. Tuilagi
      13. B. O’Driscoll
      14. S. Hogg
      15. L. Halfpenny

    2. i like your team Paulo, although i think i would go with Bowe at 14. he didnt score 2 like cuthbert did, but his play was excellent. he was coming off his wing and making holes, taking inside balls off sexton. Bowe played like a 3rd centre (as did north) as well as doing the wing jobs, which caused so many problems.

      I would go for Bowe at 14, and Hogg at 23. just my opinion though. otherwise, i like the team. i see RonBraz’s point about croft at the tail of the line, but i think that both Tipuric and SOB can do a job there too, so it isnt as important. and both were too good to leave out.

      warburton needs a huge performance on saturday!

  9. Based on performances from the first two game, this is my test 23.

    1. Vunipola
    2. Hibbard
    3. Jones
    4. O’Connell
    5. Gray
    6. O’Brien
    7. Tipuric
    8. Heaslip
    9. Phillips
    10. Sexton
    11. North
    12. Tuilagi
    13. BOD
    14 Bowe
    15. Halfpenny

    16. T. Youngs
    17. Corbisiero (Jenkins if fit)
    18. Stevens
    19. AWJ
    20. Croft
    21. B. Youngs
    22. Farrell
    23. Hogg

    1. totally agree, although i think Cole over Stevens.

      I know Cole didnt set the world alight in his run on, but Stevens hasnt done much super either, plus we know his history as a penalty machine. do we really want matt stevens in the scrum in the dying stages of a closely fought test match?

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