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14th Jul 2021

Our full Lions ratings as South Africa ‘A’ end their unbeaten run

Patrick McCarry

Lions ratings


The Lions have lost the first game of their South Africa tour, but will be thankful they finally faced a test. Our Lions ratings see two England stars score well in a losing cause.

South Africa ‘A’ absolutely bossed the first 30 minutes of the game and were rewarded with a scoreline of 17-3 after tries from Sbu Nkosi and Lukhanyo Am, with Morné Steyn adding the extras and a penalty.

The Lions only had an Owen Farrell penalty on their side of the first half ledger, and were left ruing missed chances after the hosts had two yellow cards and yet successfully defended their line.

The second half saw Wyn Jones get a try that gave the Lions hope but the South Africa ‘A’ selection ran out the clock with attacking pressure.


Here’s how we rated Warren Gatland’s Lions:

Liam Williams N/A

Did not last long after coming in as a late replacement for Josh Adams. Received a huge hit from Eben Etzebeth and did not return after a Head Injury Assessment.

Louis Rees-Zammit – 6

His kicking out of hand was not up to scratch. Went on one meandering run across his backline and was planted by Pieter Steph Du Toit. Bundled Steyn out of play to win his side a lineout. Great kick-chase saw him scrag Kolbe on his own tryline. Almost got himself a try but was penalised for a double movement.

Chris Harris – 6

Not the first and won’t be the last to be shown up by the electric feet of Cheslin Kolbe, but will be fuming that his missed tackle led to a try. Had a measure of revenge when Kolbe bounced off him, later. Got turned over by Marx after getting isolated.

Bundee Aki – 6

Conceded an early penalty for offside and struggled to impose himself in attack or defence, in that first half.

Anthony Watson – 8

Made a try-saving tackle, early on, and made a couple of nice carries. Very good in the air and played on after jarring his ankle. The Lions’ best back and a top effort after a late switch from fullback to left wing.

Owen Farrell – 6

His lazy kick was charged down by Etzebeth then De Allende punked him with a blocking run for the Nkosi try.

Conor Murray – 5

His captaincy was bold, at times, as he went for tries instead of penalties. But made an error not opting for a quick tap  to go out wide – or a scrum when the hosts were down to 13 men. Box-kicking was solid enough, bar one that went out on the full.

Wyn Jones – 8

Scrummaging is strong and won his side one crucial penalty. Stuck all his tackles. Bulled over for a try, early in the first half.

Ken Owens – 7

One lineout was lost in the first half and he was turned over in one rolling maul attempt. Made 10 carries in his 52 minutes on the pitch – many into that brick wall Bok defence.

Kyle Sinckler – 7

Strong in the scrum, and enjoyed the contest. Played scrumhalf a couple of times and was more of a link-man than carrier on a few attacking forays.

Maro Itoje – 7

Had a time of it in the lineout but could not disrupt on the Boks’ throws. Had one stretch for the line but was six inches short. Big lineout steal, on 53 minutes. Etzebeth got the better of him in a couple of collisions. Fought his ass off all night, though.

Iain Henderson – 7

Won his side a big penalty, early in the second half, with some niggling play to disrupt a rolling maul attempt. Made five carries for not much change.

Josh Navidi – 6

Went close on a couple of close-in drives but was held up. Made no carries and was on a tackling brief. Game largely passed him by.

Tom Curry – 8

Had one nice carry up the pitch but could not get an offload away after being isolated. Slick hands in attack but fell off a couple of tackles. Pinged for a ruck penalty just as the Lions were getting back in the tie. Did well to charge down a De Klerk kick. Won his side a huge turnover inside the Lions 22, late in the game.

Taulupe Faletau – 6

42 metres made off five carries and stuck all of his five tackle attempts. Tidy but lacking real bite.


Elliot Daly (for Williams ’14) – 6

Slick hands on a couple of carries. Kicked straight to Kolbe, which caused chaos before Am’s try. Allowed himself to get tackled into touch when he had acres of room inside.

Mako Vunipola (for Jones ’45) – 7

Carried with real purpose and fair play for tackling Kolbe when they were one-on-one.

Sam Simmonds (for Faletau ’47) – 6

Won his side a big penalty inside the Boks 22.

Luke Cowan Dickie (for Owens ’52) – 5

Dad not do enough to press Test case.

Zander Fagerson (for Sinckler ’62) – 5

Lost the ball forward on the final carry of the game.

Adam Beard (for Henderson ’62) – 6

Disrupted the South Africa mauls well.

Tadhg Beirne (for Navidi ’68) – 5

Penalised for tackling De Klerk off the ball. Pinged again, late on.

Gareth Davies (for Murray ’76) N/A