The British and Irish Lions continued their 100% winning record on their tour Down-Under with a hard-fought 22-12 victory over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane. With captain Sam Warburton making his first appearance for the Lions, and Australian fly-half Quade Cooper looking to force his way back in the national side, there was much to keep an eye on across the pitch.
But who impressed in a thrilling game that tested the Lions to their limits at times? We take a look at how each player got on...
British and Irish Lions
1. Mako Vunipola – 7 – Not as effective as his last two outings, but he was up against far more accomplished opposition. Questions remain over his scrimmaging, but he was solid in the area today in a dominant Lions scrum.
2. Tom Youngs – 7 – Hit his jumpers well – something that has hindered him in recent weeks. Didn’t see him make as many breaks as we have come accustomed to in the England shirt, but still kept his impressive work rate up.
3. Matt Stevens – 6 – Struggled with the physicality shown by the Reds defence, but he went well in the scrum which has been a problem for him towards the end of the season. His ability to play either side may see him sneak onto the test bench should the Lions front-row injuries continue.
4. Richie Gray – 6 – With Cian Healy ruled out, Warren Gatland will want his big runners like Gray and Paul O’Connell to front-up, and Gray didn’t have the impact today that would have been asked of him. Impressive from restarts, using his height to secure the ball with ease.
5. Geoff Parling – 7 – Dominated the line-out, a quality that has seen him emerge as a master of the set-piece with Leicester and England, but he will need to really impress to get near the test side.
6. Dan Lydiate – 8 – Tackled anything and everything in sight, chopping down the Queensland runners each time they looked to break. Does everything so well without taking the headlines, and he is improving with every game he plays in his comeback.
7. Sam Warburton – 7 – Should have scored after a scintillating break from George North, and ran hard all day, but was a lot quieter than rivals Justin Tipuric and Sean O’Brien in the first two games. The back-row debate will continue to rumble on until the team is announced for the first Test.
8. Toby Faletau – 7 – Ran from the base well as has come to be expected of him, but started to get sloppy towards the end with the conditions worsening, losing the ball a few times in contact. A close call between the Welshman and Jamie Heaslip for the starting spot.
9. Ben Youngs – 7 – Sniped well for his first-half try, and looked to attack regularly, but he doesn’t bring the physicality that Gatland is basing his game around. The open, attacking game today suited him.
10. Owen Farrell – 8 – Looked a little nervous early on, but settled after his first kick and landed all six of his kicks from the tee. Was his usual aggressive self but looked a little more composed than against the Barbarians, and he hit some brilliant lines to cut open the Reds defensive line. Would’ve had his second try of the tour had it not been for a brilliant tackle from Morahan.
11. Tommy Bowe – 8 – Seems to be hitting match fitness at the right time as he looks set to beat Alex Cuthbert to the Test jersey. Made some impressive breaks but it was his decisions when going the other way to prevent what looked like a certain Queensland try that may see him edge it. His withdrawal due to a hand injury will be a big concern for all.
12. Jonathan Davies – 7 – Had to switch to outside centre early, but did all the basics well and linked play for the wingers to attack. Gatland does like having the option of Davies in the centres, but O’Driscoll will be confident of starting the next time the Lions come to Brisbane.
13. Manu Tuilagi – 5 – Left the pitch early on with a shoulder injury and looked to be in considerable pain as he left for treatment. Struggled to cope with the tempo applied by the Reds attack, and Cooper simply passed around his blitz defence.
14. Alex Cuthbert – 6 – Really struggled for the first time on the tour, and Morahan exposed his questionable defence throughout the first half. Missed a crucial tackle for the Reds first try and was hit into touch when trying to score his own, but his finishing ability remains unhindered.
15. Stuart Hogg – 6 – Received far more of the ball than he would have expected early on, with the Reds aggressive attack meaning he had a lot of covering to do. Fumbled the ball in his own 22m to allow the Reds a scoring chance, but made a few impressive breaks when running the ball back.
Best off the bench: George North – 9 – The stand-out performer of the day. Like Vunipola mid-week, was called into action early due to injury and he excelled on the pitch. His power and pace tore-apart the Reds and he nearly put both Warburton and Farrell in for tries.
1. Ben Daley – 5 – Struggled to cope with the power of the Lions pack in the scrum, but contributed well to the Reds flare in attack. Left the field in the first half with injury.
2. James Hanson – 4 – Missed his jumpers at the line-out all day, making it easy pickings for Parling and Gray in the air. Ran hard, but largely ineffective.
3. Greg Holmes – 6 – The former Australian front-row provided a stronger challenge for Vunipola at the scrum, but Australian’s haven’t been known for their superior scrimmaging for a while.
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison – 5 – As mentioned, failed to give the Reds a platform to base their attack with minimal ball coming from the line-out.
5. Ed O’Donoghue – 5 – Tackled well, but struggled with the sheer power of the opposite pack.
6. Eddie Quirk – 6 – Was part of a Queensland back-row that tackled all game long, but his name was rarely heard throughout. Will have wanted more in such an impressive team performance.
7. Beau Robinson – 7 – Left the field in worrying scenes when he appeared to be knocked-out in a head clash with Vunipola, but thankfully returned to the sidelines to watch the end of the game. Tackled well and slowed down the Lions ball on more than one occasion.
8. Jake Schatz – 6 – Again, his tackling was the highlight of the game, but offered little else in a game that was dominated by the back-lines.
9. Nick Frisby – 7 – Brought the pace to the game along with Cooper that defined the game. Have rather large boots to fill in the absent Will Genia, but he looked more than capable and finished a good try late-on to keep the game alive.
10. Quade Cooper – 8 – There must be something wrong with his attitude, because on this performance, it’s hard to think of a more creative fly-half in Australia that Robbie Deans could pick. His passing was sublime; he looked to attack from all over the park with quick line-outs, tap penalties and short 22m drop-outs, and yet Deans hasn’t even named him in the squad. Why?
11. Luke Morahan – 8 – A delight to watch in the first half, and coped with the flurry of high kicks from Farrell with consummate ease, returning one for a breathtaking try to give the Reds the lead. The crowd were robbed of a similar second half performance when he left the field just four minutes after half-time.
12. Anthony Faingaa – 7 – Will have wanted to impress if he is to return to the Australian squad, and he played well throughout, but did nothing to imply he will unlock the Lions backline.
13. Ben Tapuai – 7 – Like Faingaa, did everything well, but with Cooper looking to bring in the wide players as soon as possible, he was given little to attack with.
14. Rod Davies – 6 – ‘Rocket Rod’ had a few chances to break, but he was outshone by both his teammate Morahan and his opposite man North.
15. Ben Lucas – 7 – Covered as well as he could considering how open the Reds left themselves to a quick counter-attack, and when faced with the giants of the Lions team, he coped as well as he could of without making too many errors.
Best off the bench: Radike Samo – The veteran was cheered by the home crowd as he entered the fray, and his experience brought a calmness to an erratic second-half display in the wet conditions, but he was the best of a bad bunch with the reserves failing to make a big impact on the game.Reuse content