Player Ratings: Rattled in the Kraal
OPINION: The withdrawal of Finn Russell and Maro Itoje just 90 minutes before kick-off may have rattled the British and Irish Lions.
Despite the 71-31 win, Warren Gatland’s men indeed got off to a mediocre start in their Sharks replay.
Back-to-back matches tend to even the playing field and a much-changed Sharks were certainly game.
Ian Cameron rates the B&I Lions players
15. LIAM WILLIAMS – 6
After going behind after 15 minutes, the Lions needed cool heads and Williams was one. Returned most balls with interest and established aerial dominance. Targeted for some rough stuff but it’s water off a duck’s back.
14. ANTHONY WATSON – 7.5
His first start of the tour, the pressure was on Watson to put a claim after such outstanding performances from the back three club. Great decision-making with the quick lineout that led to Chris Harris’ try. Took his tries well, showing really killer instinct grab his second just before fulltime.
13. ELLIOT DALY – 6
Getting obliterated by Werner Kok wasn’t the ideal start and that was followed by an awkward fumble then led directly to the Sharks’ first try. Did his best to make up for the gaffs, his classy try going some way to correcting the ledger that was part of a second-half that was far, far more assured. Did a decent job moonlighting at scrumhalf too.
12. CHRIS HARRIS – 6
Took his try well and was maybe less to blame than his teammates for their error-strewn first 50 minutes. Some so-so defensive work in the first half flattered no one in the Lions’ backline.
11. DUHAN VAN DER MERWE – 8
Brilliant line and step to set up Harris for the Lions’ first try and didn’t have too much for his second try. He’s doing very little wrong in a Lions’ jersey.
10. DAN BIGGAR – 6
His normally super accurate kicking radar seemed scrambled and awful pass let Sharks just before halftime. Four missed tackles to his name will irk a normally solid defender. Against that there were some superb touches with ball in hand and some brighter moments. With Russell’s Achille’s issue ruling him out of the next three fixtures, selection at 10 continues to intrigue.
9. GARETH DAVIES – 5
Not a great day at the office for Davies, whose distribution was a mixed bag, showed poor discipline and threw an intercept. A game to forget for the Welshman who might now be Gatland’s third choice at nine.
1. RORY SUTHERLAND – 7
A decent showing from Sutherland, who carried well throughout and held his end up in the setpiece for the 56 minutes he spent on the pitch.
2. JAMIE GEORGE – 8
Took the game by the scruff as the neck, flopping over from a driving maul in the 21st minute and carried well throughout, before grabbing a second. This was vintage Jamie George.
3. TADHG FURLONG – 7
Not quite the fireworks you come to expect from Furlong but he carried effectively and gave his Sharks a torrid time in the scrums.
4. COURTNEY LAWES – 6.5
Replaced Itoje late in the day and but didn’t take long to start cutting down Sharks’ players.
5. JONNY HILL – 6
A solid outting for the big lock, who had a massive task on his hands dealing the likes of the 6’8, 138kg Le Roux Roets. Solid.
6. TADHG BEIRNE – 8
The Munster man found himself on the score sheet twice and was second only to Conan for post-contact carry metres. His involvement in the Tests is assured, it’s now down to whether it’s on the bench or as a starter.
7. HAMISH WATSON – 7
A less glamourous turn than last time out but no less effective. Gave the Lions some much needed go forward, albeit making more modest gains in traffic, pneumatically pumping his way through defenders.
8. JACK CONAN – 7
A little bit of a slow start from the Leinster No.8 but he grew into the game – as he is wont to do – and was good value for his try, having logged over 30 metres after contact from 14 carries. Pushing Faletau hard.
By Ian Cameron, Rugbypass