Player ratings: Counting the cost of a win
OPINION: It was a match that was dubbed as the hardest curtain-raiser in the history of the British and Irish Lions.
However, Japan’s performance in their 10-28 loss to the B&I Lions at Murrayfield didn’t match the hype.
It was the brutal injury toll that has created a huge headache for head coach Warren Gatland before a single boot has set foot on South African soil.
Ian Cameron rates the B&I Lions players!
15. LIAM WILLIAMS – 6
A busy afternoon at the back for the Scarlets man. Failed to gather a Van Der Merwe offload that would have seen him cross the whitewash, but that chemistry doesn’t come overnight. Took a belt in the plug at the start of the second half and was adjudged to have knocked on with the try line beckoning a few minutes later.
14. JOSH ADAMS – 8
Mr Strikerate didn’t take long to notch up a try on debut for the Lions. Adams was maybe the Lions’ most persistent threat and showed he’s equally happy smashing players in defence as well.
13. ROBBIE HENSHAW – 7.5
The rekindling of the Henshaw/Aki axis looked particularly promising, with both centres proving too much for the Japanese defence. But there’ll be stiffer challenges ahead.
12. BUNDEE AKI – 7.5
Brilliantly direct inside line in the lead-up to Josh Adam’s opening try. His turnover just before halftime was hardly crucial, but it summed up a positive shift.
11. DUHAN VAN DER MERWE – 8
Good vision to pick up the easiest try of his fledgling Test career, running uncontested to the try line thanks to an undefended blindside. Was a dangerous presence throughout and didn’t seem in the slightest bit overawed. Matsushima did cause him issues, though he held firm.
10. DAN BIGGAR – 8
Kicked well after a predictably scrappy start to the game. A bright start as he bids to prove he’s Warren’s man at 10 for the Tests. Stake claimed.
9. CONOR MURRAY – 7
Will have been annoyed to get pinged after getting isolated five metres out from the Japanese line and was caught flat-footed by an electric Matsushima break just before halftime. Minor blemishes aside, he looked sharp.
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1. RORY SUTHERLAND – 7
A job was done in front of his home crowd although he’ll want to better showcase the abilities to earn the hard yards that made him a standout in the Six Nations.
2. KEN OWENS – 6
A few rusty moments aside, Owens had a solid at the setpiece. No fancy stuff in the loose and looked a little blowie, which is no surprise given he hasn’t played in over a month.
3. TADHG FURLONG – 7.5
Shipped a knock early on, which he soldiered through. Carried like an enraged bull in the lead up to Lawes fumbled dot down. Leg drive for days and was a moveable brick wall in defence.
4. IAIN HENDERSON – 7
Carried hard and effectively and mitigated any leadership loss after Alun Wyn Jones’ early exit.
5. ALUN WYN JONES – NA
Disaster. Off after just seven minutes with what looked like a tour-ending injury to his arm. Looked relatively cheerful at the final, which will give fans some cause for optimism.
6.TADHG BEIRNE – 8
Proved his worth as a lineout option and contributed with ball-in-hand – not least his 20-metre sprint to the line to open up his Lions account, topping it off with a Superman try celebration.
7. JUSTIN TIPURIC – NA
Gatland’s Welsh injury nightmare was compounded in the 21st minute when Tipuric was removed from the action. You couldn’t see what was his particular malaise but his body language was not good as he made his way off the pitch.
8. JACK CONAN – 7
A relatively quiet first half for the Leinsterman, whose handling skills let him down on occasion. Unlucky not to be awarded poachers try when it wasn’t absolutely clear that Liam Williams had knocked on. Grew impressively into the game.
19. COURTNEY LAWES – 7
Contributed plenty after coming on for Jones. His second test try will have to wait after he fumbled the ball over the line. The Saints’ lock unfortunately is to tries what Hans Blix was to weapons of mass destruction.
20. TAULUPE FALETAU – 6
Sprung from the bench after Tipuric trudged off injured. Uncharacteristically conceded a couple of turnovers.