Sparkling outside backs and more player ratings as the Lions churn through Chiefs

Liam Williams and Elliott Daly put their last audition to good use in Hamilton.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THE LIONS ARRESTED their losing run in midweek matches with a 6 – 34 win over the Waikato Chiefs in Hamilton. Here’s how we rated them.

Liam Williams: 8

Showed all the danger he threatens in this game after some disappointing earlier outings. Looked sharp positionally and with the ball in hand. Terrific side step to break the line and pave the way for the game’s opening try and again to provide Jared Payne with his score.

Jack Nowell: 7

Turned around and stepped by Pulu early, but has the excellent habit of working his way out of what threatens to be a rut. The Exeter Chief took his first try nicely by sneaking around the ruck on a quick release and almost had a swagger as he cut inside for his second off Williams’ scything line.

Jared Payne: 7

Showed terrific hands to help create the Lions’ try of the tour so far. Always a steady influence in midfield and his scrummaging wasn’t bad either.

Robbie Henshaw: 7

Not a perfect night for the Athlone man with some kick and pass choices sticking out as black marks, but never dropped his work-rate and showed excellent power to inject new energy into move that led to Nowell’s second try after Daly’s fine break.

Elliot Daly with Finlay Christie Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Elliot Daly: 8

Perhaps one of the most harshly overlooked talents on this tour so far as Gatland looks intent on playing an out-of-form George North. Daly again looked capable of providing the game with some electricity and his range of kicking keeps defenders guessing.

Dan Biggar: 6

Overall, a decent night for the Welshman despite the odd poor pass and lucky escape from the sin-bin for a high shot. Made his mark on Stephen Donald and kicked his goals with no fuss.

Greig Laidlaw: 5

Matches like this, where a massive fixture completely overshadows it, needs a scrum-half to provide a constant tempo. Laidlaw has had a poor tour and would have needed a complete armchair ride to look comfortable today, but it wasn’t until late on that the tourists were able to really assert dominance.

Joe Marler: 6

Was present for the early scrums that came under pressure and there looked to be a big improvement when Alan Dell arrived on the field to become a Lion while Marler was in the sin-bin for a very, very late armless hit.

Rory Best: 7

Not the scenario he would have wanted to be Lions skipper, but led the line well with a steady line-out and organising a powerful maul. He won’t be involved in this weekend’s Test, but Gatland will have to call on him at some point.

Rory Best arrives Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Dan Cole: 7

Put in a long shift for a tighthead and looked completely wrecked late on, but kept the set-piece solid throughout and took on his share of carrying and tackling in the loose.

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Iain Henderson: 7

A fine day’s work that was conspicuously low in terms of carries – the stats sheet made his barge over the try-line as his first. His focus was on clean-outs, maul structure and drawing defenders as he opted to pass before contact.

Courtney Lawes: 7

Took on all the carrying work for the engine room and his defensive power was needed to keep the back-up Chiefs on the back foot.

James Haskell: 6

A great clean-out helped grease the wheels for the superb coast-to-coast Nowell try. Threw his weight around to decent effect with carries and tackles in double figures.

Justin Tipuric: 7

An excellent natural openside, but as we’ve all come to expect, he won’t make a Warren Gatland starting Test line-up. Linked play nicely throughout and played his part in the line-out a well as the ruck and tackle count.

CJ Stander with Nepo Laulala Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

CJ Stander: 7

No fear of big CJ feeling marginalised as a midweek ‘dirt-tracker’, the Munster man set the tone early on, showing terrific maul defence to frustrate Chiefs. Followed up with some classic CJ stuff, carrying relentlessly and making big yards in the lead up to Nowell’s score.

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