1 Jul 2017

Lions win second Test 24-21: Who rated the best

10:30 pm on 1 July 2017

By Matt Richens* @MattRichens

The Lions have won the second Test of their 2017 tour, beating the All Blacks 24-21 in Wellington. Matt Richens rates all the players.

Watch match highlights here:

British and Irish Lions v All Blacks, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Second Test

LIONS 24 (Taulupe Faletau, Conor Murray tries, Owen Farrell 3 pens)

ALL BLACKS 21 (Beauden Barrett 7 pens)

HT: 12-9

Read the full match report here, and see how it all went down with Jamie Wall's live blog here.

MVP

3 - Conor Murray

2 - Maro Itoje

1 - Sam Warburton

Waisake Naholo makes a break for the All Blacks.

Waisake Naholo makes a break for the All Blacks. Photo: PhotoSport

TEAM RATINGS

ALL BLACKS - 5/10

SBW's old-school league shoulder to Anthony Watson's head and the resulting red card left them with plenty to do. Had to change plans with 14. Had chances, but weren't good enough.

A lot of aimless kicking and while the conditions made it tough to play, this team is meant to be able to play the ball in all conditions. As Read said post-match; simply not accurate enough.

BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS - 8/10

Played ball early, but looked as fluent as your average Kiwi speaking Swahili. Gained a level of confidence when Sonny Bill Williams went off.

Discipline wasn't great, but neither was the All Blacks. Were more aggressive in the tight stuff. Some would argue they should have broken down a 14-man ABs earlier, but did it well eventually to score the game's only tries. Weren't outstanding, but were much better and not missing a tackle in the first spell was a big tick.

A cynic would point out it took rubbish conditions, a poor refereeing performance and the ABs being a man short for an hour for them to win, but Gatland, Warburton and co couldn't care less. They deserved their win.

REFEREE JEROME GARCES - 3/10

Typical over-zealous start from a whistle-happy French referee. Didn't necessarily favour either side and certainly didn't cost the All Blacks the match, but was just poor and looked like he had an issue with rugby and wanted to ruin it.

Made the right call on Williams, but was inconsistent by missing Codie's Taylor's late hit, but then calling Mako Vunipola late on Barrett. He then made what looked to be a make-up call for his bizarre yellow on Vunipola in the 55th minute.

Taulupe Faletau scores the first try for the Lions.

Taulupe Faletau scores the first try for the Lions. Photo: PhotoSport

PLAYER RATINGS - ALL BLACKS

1 - JOE MOODY - 7/10

As dominant as ever in the scrums and plugged away with great tenacity for the 54 minutes he was on. Head down, bum up in the tight - never took a backwards step on defence.

2 - CODIE TAYLOR - 5

Under early line-out pressure but didn't take long to come right. Lucky to get away with a no arms late charge on Owen Farrell.

3 - OWEN FRANKS - 6

Got more dominant in the scrums as the the second half progressed. Had to work hard in a seven-man scrum and didn't disgrace himself.

4 - BRODIE RETALLICK - 6

Ran strong and hard again, often taking a few Lion defenders with him. Didn't get a chance to show off his ball-playing skills as much at the first test, but did his basics well enough.

5 - SAM WHITELOCK - 5

Typical tradesman like performance, seemed to thrive in the tight in these conditions, but his numbers didn't impress like normal.

6 - JEROME KAINO - 5

Unlucky player to be pulled from the field early to make way for Laumape. Sacrificial lamb.

7 - SAM CANE - 7

Fetched well early, securing an early penalty. Looked strong on defence and with ball in hand. Did well again and has had a good series. Had been outplayed by Matt Todd in Super footy, but repaid selector's faith again.

8 - KIERAN READ (C) - 6

Quiet first half, played the tight game well in testing conditions. Didn't stamp his authority on the game like he did last week, but still got his big mitts on the ball plenty of times. Didn't play poorly, but was shut down much better by the Lions.

9 - AARON SMITH - 6

Did well with some messy ball, but box kicked poorly and lacked depth and accuracy. Needed to snipe more around the fringes to challenge the defence and keep them guessing. Would have benefited having eight forwards in front of him.

10 - BEAUDEN BARRETT - 5

Missed a simple chance from out front to get the first points of the night, but made no mistake with his second crack. Went on to have a mixed night with the boot, fair to say conditions didn't suit his running game. Seven from 10 isn't good enough and the sodden conditions doesn't suit his slick style. Wasn't poor, but was below his usual ridiculously high standards.

11 - RIEKO IOANE - 4

Tricky night for a wing to really prosper, but didn't really go looking for work, in what was a disappointing second showing.

Sonny Bill Williams goes off the field after receiving a red card.

Sonny Bill Williams goes off the field after receiving a red card. Photo: AFP

12 - SONNY BILL WILLIAMS - 0

Had little chance to contribute before receiving a red card for no-arms tackle in the 24th minute. Some will argue it should have been yellow, but it was direct into Watson's face and Jérôme Garcès had no choice. Dumb to risk it at all, nowadays they need to be far more careful. The haters will no-doubt be frothing on Social Media. Made the history books; first All Black red card in 50 years.

13 - ANTON LIENERT-BROWN - 7

Didn't see a lot of action early but popped up a lot more in the second half and showed why big raps have been placed on him. Had to do a job on the side of the scrum at times. While some didn't, he went looking for work. One of the hosts' bests.

14 - WAISAKE NAHOLO - 4

Looked good with ball in hand, but confirmed everyone's fears with fragility under the high ball. A couple of carries at first receiver, but limited chances out wide.

15 - ISRAEL DAGG - 5

Trademark punt was on show, early aerial attack put him under pressure. Missed tackle on Faletau when the big No 8 ran over him to score in the corner. Made some handy metres but didn't show usual swag and didn't do enough to fill Bender's boots. Did make the match's most metres.

RESERVES

16 - NATHAN HARRIS - 5

Got a token, and perhaps pointless, minute at the end

17 - WYATT CROCKETT - 4

Came on with a tick under 30 to go and didn't have many opportunities to impose himself on the match.

18 - CHARLIE FAUMUINA - 4

Didn't offer much, aside from giving away the match deciding penalty, as questionable as it was.

19 - SCOTT BARRETT - 5

Wasn't on long enough to make an impact, probably would have enjoyed these conditions if he had more time.

20 - ARDIE SAVEA - 6

Quiet until the closing minutes where he showed his power with ball in hand.

21 - TJ PERENARA - 5

Needs to learn to shut his mouth and not be so petulant. When referee Pepe Le Pew was in the mood he was in, it could have cost more. Wasn't bad, but didn't add anything once Smith went off.

22 - AARON CRUDEN - 4

Slotted in at 10 with 20 to go, but strange decision to kick the ball away with less than two minutes to go. One test to go in his career for the All Blacks and couldn't get much bigger.

23 - NGANI LAUMAPE - 6

Will have been surprised to make such an early debut and showed his strength in the closing minutes with some telling runs. The weather should have suited him, but the Lions defended him much better than the mid-week side did.

PLAYER RATINGS - BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS

1 - MAKO VUNIPOLA - 5/10

Hard man to take down, seemed to get early parity in the scrums but started to get dominated as the black pack found its form. Unlucky to get penalised trying to win turn-over when he appeared to be supporting his own weight. Lacked discipline and was yellow carded from a marginal Garces call. Yellow might have been crucial and much-talked about in a loss, but will be quickly forgiven by those in red since they won. Mouthy post 80-minutes too. Classy.

2 - JAMIE GEORGE - 7

Wasn't prominent in the first half, but did little wrong. Had plenty of gas left in the tank to set up the Lion's second try. Big ticker to get through 80 minutes. Not many line-outs but hit his targets.

3 - TADHG FURLONG - 6

Didn't have as much presence around the field as his propping partner, but put in a solid performance in the scrums against a de-powered All Black scrum.

4 - MARO ITOJE - 8

Was a menace in the lineouts, but grassed it in a handy position early in the game. Showed good strength and determination to force turnovers and will be battered and bruised. Deserved his starting spot and made the most tackles in the match, great from a lock.

5 - ALUN WYN JONES - 7

Strong defensive first half, but could have offered more with ball in hand. Looked to be up for this one more than last week and didn't battle with the pace like a week ago.

6 - SAM WARBURTON (C ) - 8

Combative at the breakdown where the Lions seemed to win the battle. A calm head on the field when plenty of others around him appeared to be losing theirs. Plenty of pressure on him to perform and he stood up. Was impressive as a six and a leader and did plenty around the field.

7 - SEAN O'BRIEN - 7

Busy first half on defence and was eager to get his hands on the ball and ran with great gusto, making plenty of metres and tackles. Worked well with Warburton at the breakdown.

8 - TAULUPE FALETAU - 7

Much improved from last week. Wasn't overly dominant in the first half, but made his make at key times, none more so than when he scored. Made some good metres on a night when there was a lot of kicking.

Conor Murray scores the second try for the Lions.

Conor Murray scores the second try for the Lions. Photo: PhotoSport

9 - CONOR MURRAY - 9

Crisp clearances proved his class. Box kicks once again on the mark, unlike his opposite. Seems to make a habit of scoring tries against the All Blacks in big games. Helped by his mate Jonathan Sexton standing on the All Blacks side of the ruck. Best on the park.

10 - JONATHAN SEXTON - 5

Failed to assert his dominance on the first half and conceded a number of turnovers. Didn't offer much more in the second half and was a bit out-shone by Farrell.

11 - ELLIOT DALY - 6

Quiet first half, turning the ball over a couple of times in tricky conditions. Didn't contribute hugely to a great Lions display, though it was a tough game for the outside backs.

12 - OWEN FARRELL - 8

Big penalty in the conditions. Kicked his goals to keep the Lions in touch. Lions hero kicking the penalty to give them the lead 24-21.

13 - JONATHAN DAVIES - 6

Won't be disappointed with his showing, but was perhaps outclassed by the man inside him. Did the basics well and made handy metres and a valuable offload.

14 - ANTHONY WATSON - 7

Will be remembered for getting his face in the way of Sonny Bill's shoulder. Left the field briefly but returned to make a real impact. Showed gas on the outside to give momentum leading to Faletau's try.

15 - LIAM WILLIAMS - 6

Looked good with ball in hand in the first half, despite grassing it a couple of times. Not a lot went his way, but he acquitted himself well.

RESERVES

16 - KEN OWENS - not used

17 - JACK MCGRATH - 5

Made a few tackles in the 15 odd minutes he had.

18 - KYLE SINCKLER - 7

Jumped into a tackle that ended up being the winning of the game. Made some useful tackles.

19 - COURTNEY LAWES - 8

Made an impact on defence and with ball in hand, might have pushed for a starting spot if it not for the win.

20 - CJ STANDER - not used

21 - RHYS WEBB - not used

22 - BEN TE'O - not used

23 - JACK NOWELL - 5

Not on for long enough to make an impact.

Previous ratings

LIONS 31 HURRICANES 31

ALL BLACKS 30 Lions 15

LIONS 34 Chiefs 6

LIONS 32 Maori All Blacks 10

HIGHLANDERS 23 Lions 22

BLUES 22 Lions 16

LIONS 13 NZ Provincial Barbarians 7

* Matt Richens has been a sports journalist for more than a decade and is happy as a pig in muck to be heading to the third test alongside mates who helped him with these ratings, Batesy and Phil.

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