Player ratings: Men against boys
OPINION: COVID-19 chaos meant that the British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland was forced into eight late changes to the 23 he named for the Sharks on Monday – including a remarkable 7-1 split on the bench.
Yet, they were in control from the outset and dominated the South African team to record a 54-7 win.
It was like men against boys.
Ian Cameron rates the B&I Lions players!
15. JOSH ADAMS – 8.5
Can’t stop scoring. A one-handed pick-up opening his account and his second was pure wanton try greed. Scoring a third bordered on bad manners.
14. LOUIS REES-ZAMMIT – 7.5
Great offload for Adams’ opening try for the Lions but snatched at a gettable crossfield. Had half a sniff in the 61st minute and turned it into a try. Sickeningly fast.
13. ELLIOT DALY – 8
His siege gun boot got the Lions out of trouble more than once and his first-half gallop up the pitch was a sight to behold. Again, numerous value-added moments in the midfield caught the eye, not least his flick on for on DVDM’s third try.
12. BUNDEE AKI – 7.5
Showed explosive acceleration to bust his way over for his first Lions’ try before halftime. Quietly going about the business of making himself a selection problem for management.
11. DUHAN VAN DER MERWE – 8
Big Dewie didn’t take it easy on his fellow South Africans, trundling over his first victim within six minutes. Showcased his genuine pace and skill for his second try which needed plenty of finishing, while his third was a gimme. Gatland and co have got a major headache on the wings.
10. OWEN FARRELL – 7
A late call-up amid the chaos Wednesday afternoon, his first contribution was a cool as you like offload in the lead to Adams try and followed that with a perfectly weighted 9-iron into space for VDM’s second. There’s a section of Lions’ supporters who delight in any perceived error on Farrell’s part, but he gave them little fodder here.
9. ALI PRICE – 7.5
Price’s third game in a row and maybe it showed a little in the opening exchanges, and with Gareth Davies and Conor Murray isolated, he was the lone nine in the 23, so no respite here. Some huge plays over the ball bailed the Lions out, but a couple of fluffed lines in attack blotted his copybook.
1. MAKO VUNIPOLA – 4
Seemed to struggle with the surface and was repeatedly pinged by Peyper for collapsing. A dreadful first half of rugby by his incredibly high standards and you suspect he may have damaged his Test chances. Passed well in the second half mind, but that’s not what he’s there for.
2. LUKE COWAN-DICKIE – 8
Was at the centre of a concussion controversy early in the week but no obvious ill effects here. Did well to snaffle a ruck ball with the Sharks on the line, and was unlucky not to score a try on debut after a 20th-minute fumble. His super-low tackling technique could yet end in tears, but his carrying in traffic more than impressed.
3. ZANDER FAGERSON – 6
Started well, winning an early penalty against the Sharks scrum, but the 50 – 50 calls started to go the way of the home side. Most of the issues came on the loosehead side but he wasn’t completely blameless here.
4. IAIN HENDERSON – 7
A tremendously efficient ball carrier and defender but it’s his work off the ball that separates him from the average Test lock. No highlight-reel additions here but a solid outing.
5. ADAM BEARD – 6
Did a job in the lineout but didn’t do enough here to dispel the critics of his call-up.
6. JOSH NAVIDI – 8
A really bright start to Navidi’s tour. Dogged in attack and tireless in defence, a fine Lions debut for the flanker.
7. TOM CURRY – 6
A couple of classy contributions here and there but never really opened up. Bungled a try with line beckoning, which will have stung. Advantage Watson.
8. SAM SIMMONDS – 7
A smart, selfless pass to put Van Der Merwe away. Finally got to see the Chief open up with a 30-metre break up the pitch but suspect and hope there’s more in the tank.