Player Ratings: Heartbreaking
OPINION: It was a game that the Lions could and should have won, but crucially Warren Gatland’s men didn’t land a knockout blow and didn’t have an answer for the Springboks’ gutsy never-say-die resolve.
Ian Cameron rates the B&I Lions players:
15. LIAM WILLIAMS – 5
Huge pressure on Williams to perform given the context of the aerial contest. Lost the ball in contact in a huge, bloody collision with Franco Mostert, which cut him open. Was initially convincing in the air but his failure to put Josh Adams away in the 28th minute was a sour note, as was getting done by Kolbe, even if defending the tyro is maybe rugby union’s most thankless task.
14. JOSH ADAMS – 5.5
Fumbled the ball more than once and – and other than a few darts – never really got to showcase his attacking game.
13. ROBBIE HENSHAW – 7
Winning a turnover by holding De Allende up in the tackle was the highlight of a relatively quiet first half. Shutdown more Springboks attacks than maybe anyone else on the pitch and was the only Lion to beat defenders.
12. BUNDEE AKI – 6
Brought the midfield go-forward the Lions so badly craved in the first two Tests but he also brought with him mediocre discipline.
11. DUHAN VAN DER MERWE – 6
Recovered well from his horror show last weekend, even if he might have been guilty of dialing it back a little too far. Started to open up in the second half.
10. DAN BIGGAR – NA
Missing three points wasn’t the best start to proceedings for Biggar and it got worse when he was forced off after just 10 minutes.
9. ALI PRICE – 5.5
Brought huge energy to the proceeding but there were too many blemishes. Boks disrupted his service at times. The Scot brought more tempo than Murray had in the second Test, but that’s not saying a great deal. In truth, it was a problem position for the Lions all tour.
1. WYN JONES – 7
Was it a coincidence that the Lions got the better of the scrum battle with Wyn Jone starting? It was the same mess as before thanks to the dire surface but Jones got the better of Frans Malherbe. Hurt before half-time and the Boks went for him. He never recovered and was replaced by Mako Vunipola just three minutes in the second half.
2. KEN OWENS – 7.5
Knocked back hard on his first carry but wasn’t be cowed. Scored off a lineout maul to turn the tide back for the men in red. Grizzled, unrelenting, and up for the fight.
3. TADHG FURLONG – 6
Another solid outing from Furlong, even if the Irishman hasn’t quite lived up to his enormous billing. Broke even at the scrums, which had again descended into a lottery.
4. MARO ITOJE – 6
Busy throughout on both sides of the ball but his performances lacked the game-changing plays that have characterized his biggest performances on this tour.
5. ALUN WYN JONES – 5.5
Bungled a line-out that cost the Lions the chance of landing a damaging five-point blow before half-time. On such mistakes do Lions series hinge.
6. COURTNEY LAWES – 6
At the coalface all day but the Lions’ lacked a breakdown threat in this three-match series that Lawes wasn’t providing, cementing the suspicion that Beirne deserved a shot at the blindside.
7. TOM CURRY – 4
A first-half blunder maybe cost the Lions seven points and the opportunity for Gatland’s men to rattle the Boks further. Too many penalties. Too inaccurate.
8. JACK CONAN – 6
Didn’t quite bring the carrying game we had seen in the previous two Tests. He’s capable of massive plays that make star players stand out. We didn’t see them here.
16. LUKE COWAN-DICKIE – 6
Brought dynamism but will be left rueing his missed tackle on Kolbe.
17. MAKO VUNIPOLA – 6
Not an improvement on Jones at scrum time but he maintained the status quo and brought some carrying.
18. KYLE SINCKLER – 5.5
Didn’t get the rub of the green from Mathieu Raynal but his knee was on the ground for their crucial 70th-minute scrum.
22. FINN RUSSELL – 8.5
Being thrown into the maelstrom after just 11 minutes, having not played for five weeks was a huge ask. He immediately rose to the occasion, with the Lions coming alive as the Racing 92 maverick started to pull the strings. He couldn’t have done any more.
Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass