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Player Ratings | Lions were much better, but come short in crucial test

The all-important final test between the British and Irish Lions and South Africa kicked off in C...

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

19:47 7 Aug 2021



The all-important final test between the British and Irish Lions and South Africa kicked off in Cape Town on Saturday, with bragging rights for the next 12 years on the line.

The Lions started the series with a narrow victory over the World Champions, before the Springboks levelled it in the second test, teeing up a crucial decider in the final test.

In spite of all of the distractions throughout the tour, from officiating criticism, to accusations of boring rugby, the final test was set up to be a truly tense affair.

British and Irish Lions Player Ratings

Wyn Jones 7/10

The Lions got more than parity in the scrum for most of the match, with South Africa only really gaining the ascendancy in that area after Tadhg Furlong and Wyn Jones went off. While he only managed 44 minutes, those minutes were when the Lions were in control of the game, and Jones was crucial in that.

Ken Owens 8/10

Scoring only the second try of the test series thus far, Ken Owens was a strong centre for the Lions' pack and played a major role in the tourists' first half lead.

Lions South Africa 3

Tadhg Furlong 8/10

Tadhg Furlong has been the best prop of the series, from either side, as he stood up to and even bossed one of the most infamous scrums in world rugby throughout the three matches. While he did not make the defensive contribution that he had made a week ago, Furlong can hold his head up high after a strong performance in a narrow encounter.

Maro Itoje 8/10

Maro Itjoe has been the standout player in the test series, with physicality and leadership being his biggest assets. While throughout the series Itoje was mainly used off the ball, his 29 metres in the third test and nine tackles were crucial in the Lions' much improved performance throughout the game.

Alun Wyn Jones 7/10

The Lions missed the leadership of their most experienced player in the final 20 minutes, however throughout his 60 minutes, Alun Wyn Jones made most of his impact in the leadership stakes. Although he never made the physical impact that he had in the second test, Jones' leadership was crucial in getting the Lions ahead for as long as they were.

Courtney Lawes 6.5/0

Courtney Lawes was arguably the most unlikely six of the series, with many looking for Tadhg Beirne to start in the tests. however, he was phenomenal throughout the three matches, with his worst performance actually coming in the final test, as he was unable to make the metres he would have wanted, and made far fewer tackles than he had in the previous weeks.

Lawes Lions Springboks

Tom Curry 6.5/10

Tom Curry looked more like his 2019/2020 self, jackalling over the ball, and making himself known at the breakdown. While he was lucky to get away with some turnovers, he looked far better than he did in the last two tests. His biggest impact was over the ball at ruck time, making no metres with his limited carries, and not being the tackler that he usually is.

Jack Conan 7/10

Jack Conan was the odds-on least favourite in the squad to start all three tests, and yet he was consistent throughout the series and earned his starting place. While he was not able to make a huge amount of metres, Conan was constantly in and around the ball, and will be happy to have proven his nay-sayers wrong.

Ali Price 7.5/10

Ali Price was key in the Lions' first half lead, getting the ball out quickly and distributing well to his outside backs. A charge down in the first half was not ideal for the Scotsman, but with no one blocking the line, there was not much he could have done about it.

Dan Biggar N/A

While he got off to a somewhat rocky start, unable to get much go-forward in the face of some staunch South African defence, Dan Biggar's early injury means he cannot get a fair rating off of just 11 minutes.

Duhan van der Merwe 7/10

Duhan van der Merwe looked a much improved player from the previous weeks, partially because he had better back up in the aerial battle with Josh Adams and Liam Williams taking the pressure off. On attack, he looked much more dangerous, forcing missed tackles from the world champions.

Aki Lions South Africa

Bundee Aki 8/10

It took until the most important test of the series for Warren Gatland to unfurl his strongest centre pairing, but it was clear from the start that Bundee Aki should have started from the get-go. he was powerful with ball in hand, but also managed to spread the ball wide throughout, as the Lions looked to play more rugby throughout.

Robbie Henshaw 8/10

Robbie Henshaw is arguably up there with one of the best test centres in world rugby, however he was unable to dominate two of the other pretenders to that title, Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende. While he carried well, made a number of strong inputs on defence and was one of the top players for the Lions throughout the series, ultimately he could not power his side into a series victory.

Josh Adams 7/10

Josh Adams looked much more dangerous on the wing that Anthony Watson had done in the previous weeks, making good meters and looking for work. He made the most metres for the tourists on the day, and was one of the most influential player throughout the series. It is a shame that he only got the one test.

Adams Lions South Africa

Liam Williams 7/10

Liam Williams was the solution to the Lions' aerial woes from the previous week, but he also cost the tourists a guaranteed seven points by not offloading to Josh Adams on the wing in the first half. In the second half, however, the Lions weren't able to get as much ball out to the wings, with the centres taking the majority of the carries.

Williams was also stood up on defence, allowing Cheslin Kolbe to score the try that would get the Springboks back in the match.

Notable Lions replacement: Finn Russell 9/10

Finn Russell brought a definite attacking flair to the Lions' backline that opened the game up. He put his teammates in gaps throughout the match, and was important to keep the scoreboard ticking over with his boot. He was lucky not to have been shown a yellow card for a high tackle in the second half.

Notable South African performers: Siya Kolisi 8/10, Morne Steyn 9/10

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Read more about

Ali Price Alun Wyn Jones British And Irish Lions Bundee Aki Courtney Lawes Dan Biggar Duhan Van Der Merwe Finn Russell Handre Pollard Jack Conan Jacques Nienaber Josh Adams Ken Owens Liam Williams Lions Lions 2021 Maro Itoje Morne Steyn Robbie Henshaw South Africa Springboks Tadhg Furlong Tom Curry Warren Gatland Wyn Jones

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