Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# out of 10
Player ratings as the Lions secure historic Wellington win over All Blacks
The Tullow Tank, Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton played a big part in levelling up the series.

THE ALL BLACKS slipped to defeat in Wellington as the Lions levelled up the series. Here’s our match report from the Westpac and below we’ve graded the the Lions out of 10.

Liam Williams: 6

The star last week, but even the long-range weather forecast signaled this wasn’t going to be another big night for the back three, but Williams got through the fundamentals well and played a crucial role in Faletau’s try.

Anthony Watson: 6

At the centre of the game’s crucial moment, getting whacked by Sonny Bill, but also made some good yardage on limited carrying opportunities.

Sonny Bill Williams tackles Anthony Watson, leading to a red card Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Jonathan Davies: 6

Some moments of inspiration early on when the Lions were trying to force an opening and got through a solid night’s work on the deck.

Owen Farrell: 7

Held his nerve to kick the Lions to their first win over New Zealand since 1993 and justified Gatland’s decision to go with two 10s by showing off the value of an extra playmaker for that game-changing Faletau try.

Elliott Daly: 5

No fault of his own, but was the quietest of the back three. Did well when called upon in the air or to run the pill back.

Jonathan Sexton: 7

Back to his best in some phases of play today, beautiful distribution and loops to gradually tire out the 14 men. His partnership with Farrell, their first start together, was sublime.

Conor Murray scores their second try Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Conor Murray: 8

Aaron Smith will be livid. The All Blacks’ starting nine wasn’t going to forget Conor Murray’s Chicago snipe, but TJ Perenara clearly wasn’t haunted by the Limerick man’s stand-out try of last year as Smith. Bar a silly penalty for a high arm in a tackle, it was another chapter to an incredible career.

Mako Vunipola: 4

Topped the Lions penalty count with four against his name. Second best at scrum time and had clearly lost his cool by the time he earned his yellow card for a needless hit on the prone Beauden Barrett.

Jamie George: 5

Limited impact until his burst helped set up Conor Murray’s try, but his power was valuable in that moment to justify another start next week. Got through plenty of work around the park and kept his nose clean on the deck.

Tadhg Furlong: 6

Started off well with a big carry early on in the Kiwi 22, but didn’t get much chance to impact in the loose. Held up his side of a shaky scrum.

Maro Itoje: 8

Pinged for his share of penalties, but his big impact on the game was his brilliant efforts in attacking and defensive mauls. On top of that, he topped the tackle chart with 14 and carried nine times.

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Alun Wyn Jones:  6

Helped set the Lions’ early aggressive tone with a solid hit in the moments.  Got through plenty of carrying and tackle work, but seemed to typify a lack of dynamism about the Lions that left them unable to make yards against 14 men until deep into the second half.

Sam Warburton: 7

We mourned for the dropped O’Mahony, but the tour captain held up his side of the bargain for Warren Gatland with a ferocious effort all over the field. Effective at the breakdown and put in 10 tackles for good measure.

Sean O'Brien with Israel Dagg Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Sean O’Brien: 8

Got through a heap of defensive work and had a terrific battle with Sam Cane on the deck. Yet another reminder of how important a fit Tullow Tank is to Ireland.

Taulupe Faletau: 8

Capped off the first memorable move from the Lions in this match with a bull-dozing finish over Israel Dagg in the corner. Only Itoje put in more tackles than the brilliant Welsh eight.

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