Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
# everyone's a winner
Player ratings after the Lions take draw from epic series against the All Blacks
The 2005 shambles can be laid to rest now.

THE LIONS CLAIMED an improbable 15 – 15 draw against the world champions in Auckland this morning. You can find the match report here, but below we’ve applied a rating to each player’s efforts.

Liam Williams: 6

Such a star of the first Test, his handling errors became as common as his line breaks as the tour wore one. Still a potent attacking weapon and his footwork makes him a tough man to put down and his 66 metres were the most of any Lion.

Anthony Watson: 7

A solid outing from the England wing who inadvertently swung the series by suffering that horror hit from Sonny Bill. Always a danger and looked potent the 10 times he took the ball into contact. Struggles at times to keep his feet when attempts to change direction at full tilt, which is a frustration.

Jonathan Davies: 9

One of the men of the series. Davies put in another heroic effort from outside centre, with dogged determination at the breakdown, powerful carrying lines and consistently hard hits – none more memorable than smashing Jordie Barrett and forcing the young star to blast the ball out on the full from his own 22 line.

Owen Farrell: 7

Kept composure to land a crucial late penalty late on to ratchet his rating back up. Started off with some extremely poor decisions and actions in the first half that the All Blacks will rue not capitalising on.

Romain Poite blows the final whistle James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Elliott Daly: 7

Should be remembered in this match for a monstrous penalty from halfway that kept the Lions biting at All Black heels. Again though, this was a game where the Lions back three were forced to be peripheral figures and Daly was not without error when the hosts turned him and kicked over his head.

Jonathan Sexton: 8

Picked up a few of his obligatory Test match limps and looked absolutely furious when called off for a HIA, but he battles to keep himself fit, up and running.

Once he’s at that point, his attacking intent is always amped up to critical levels and his running game caused real problems for the Kiwi defence. Without the ball, his efforts were just as ferocious and his confrontation with Jerome Kaino in the second half was typical of his excellent defensive technique.

Conor Murray: 8

Precious little possession to work off early meant he had to be patient to find his rhythm in the game, but never but a foot wrong with his distribution and his box-kicking was on the money. Felt strange to see him called ashore in a tight game.

Mako Vunipola: 7

After some high profile moments in the second Test, he’ll be happy to have stayed under the radar this time around. Was solid without the ball and his carrying workload (10) was only matched in the pack by Maro Itoje.

Jamie George: 6

Another fine shift around the park, particularly in defence, but he and Lions fans will find it difficult to forget two line-out malfunctions at crucial times in the second half.

Tadhg Furlong with Sam Whitelock and Joe Moody James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Tadhg Furlong: 8

Another monstrous effort from the Wexford man with a handful of powerful yard-making carries and an excellent shift at scrum time. Coaches are in the habit of automatically replacing their front rows well before the end, but Warren Gatland may have been well served sticking with his first choice for one last, late push for victory.

Maro Itoje: 9

Was simply immense when the Lions looked to be hanging on in the first 20 minutes, leading the way in carries and physicality. Made the decision not to play him in Test one look mystifying.

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Alun Wyn Jones: 7

Acted as the dog in the engine room to good effect and worked tirelessly in the maul and tackle zone. Looked more than a bit dazed after taking Jerome Kaino’s forearm to the face and it was a surprise to see him sent on when Sam Warburton was called for a HIA.

CJ Stander: 7

Entered the game at half-time to replace Sean O’Brien who was struggling with a shoulder knock late in the first half. The Munster man added his weight to a good defensive maul and, as ever, put his body to work with thankless carrying work giving him five metres gained on five carries.

Sam Warburton: 8

Another justified Warren Gatland decision, the Welshman was a pest at the All Black breakdown when they craved just a fraction of a second longer to capitalise on all their early pressure. His most important role though, was keeping in Romain Poite’s ear after the award of a penalty that looked certain to give New Zealand victory. Eventually, the TMO was put to use and  the penalty shot was downgraded to a scrum which the Lions pack powered into like their careers depended on it.

Kieran Read and Sam Warburton lift the DHL NZ cup after the series finished a draw James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Taulupe Faletau: 7

Arguably his quietest shift across the three Tests, but his baseline still includes a massive amount of work and he ended the game level with Alun Wyn Jones as his team’s top tackler (nine). Set the tone at the breakdown too as the Lions displayed brilliant clear-outs in attack to free up ball for Sexton and Murray to work off.

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