British and Irish Lions downed by Auckland Blues: LWOR player ratings

Blues v British & Irish Lions
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The British and Irish Lions performance tonight was perhaps marginally better than the tour opener, but they succumbed to their first loss of the tour.

Ihaia West’s phenomenal late try gave the Auckland Blues a thoroughly deserved 22-16 success at Eden Park. On the ground where the British and Irish Lions will play the first real-test, they were handed a serious test and failed. CJ Stander crossed for the men in red midway through the first 40, but Rieko Ioane and Sonny Bill Williams’ tries had the Blues leading at half-time. 

Warren Gatland and the British and Irish Lions did little to dash the negativity surrounding them after their narrow win on Saturday. Gatland named an entirely fresh 15 for the Blues contest, but few will be emerging with much credit tonight.

Sam Meade takes a rule to each player, to gain a Lions score out of 150 points. If you agree, share your comments and feedback below.

BLUES  22  LIONS  16

Jack McGrath 7/10

Scrummaged well and always keen to take the ball on as first receiver. If you assume Tadhg Furlong wears three for the British and Irish Lions then McGrath is the perfect foil on the other side of the scrum. A reassuring presence and in pole position to start the Tests.

Ken Owens 7/10

Captain for the night delivered a solid performance in one of the most open positions in the squad. Barring his final throw before being replaced his lineout delivery was solid which puts him ahead of Rory Best in the pecking order.

Dan Cole 6/10

A quiet night in terms of carries and influence at the breakdown but performed his primary role well which is to scrummage. Faces a battle to start in the Tests, especially with Kyle Sinckler’s impact off the bench.

Maro Itoje 7/10

Even when he doesn’t play to his best he still produces moments that remind you how good he is. Excellent lineout operator and a constant nuisance around the breakdown. His passion is clear to see and one of the hardest players to leave out.

Courtney Lawes 7/10

Did exactly what he says on the tin and did it well. Covered enormous amounts of ground and one of only three British and Irish Lions to make double figure tackles. Seemed to form a quick partnership with Itoje and his ability to play in the back row puts him in serious contention for the Test team.

Justin Tipuric 8/10

The one major positive from the night for the British and Irish Lions was Tipuric’s performance. Always appeared to be in the right place at the right time. Carried well, made key tackles, a lineout option and, despite lacking the opportunity tonight, is excellent ball in hand.

James Haskell 6/10

Carried well throughout the contest but game looked, at times, a bit one dimensional and when he doesn’t carry his effect on the game does dry up. Still a solid performance by Billy Vunipola’s tour replacement and if he can rediscover form of 12 months ago remains a serious asset.

CJ Stander 7/10

Scored the only try for the British and Irish Lions in Auckland. Carried more than anyone else in red and had the confidence to take the ball of during the early phases which allowed a platform. Only criticism would be that his metres made doesn’t equate well to the amount of carries he had.

Rhys Webb 7/10

One of the Lions better players but won’t have done much to leapfrog Conor Murray for Test jersey. Best 20 minutes was the first 20 which reinforces the idea that he remains more of an impact player. Produced moments of excitement but they mellowed as game went on. His speed of delivery from the breakdown was positive however.

Dan Biggar 5/10

Had to be replaced during the first half with an injury which dampened his chances. Lining up next to his club and international team mate was clear to see as their wavelengths were in sync. Put his backs into some nice positions but wasn’t on the pitch long enough to make much of an impression.

Elliot Daly 5/10

The Wasps flyer was starved of the ball for much of the game. Switched to 13 during the second half but looked more dangerous on the wing. Nevertheless produced little moments that will have pleased Gatland and still looks a good bet for Test start despite quite game.

Robbie Henshaw 5/10

His game lacked much variety. Put in a couple of clever kicks as the game wore on but initially carried at every opportunity which became predictable. Didn’t trump Ben Te’o’s performance on Saturday as they battle for 12 shirt but marginally ahead of the Englishman based on form over last 12 months.

Jared Payne 5/10

Went off injured which will be of concern to Gatland. However was defensively sound throughout the contest but will have been disappointed not to finish try opportunity in first half.

Jack Nowell 4/10

Didn’t have a British and Irish Lions debut to remember. Caught out for Ioane’s try with his body position and his defence was not up to its usual standard. Went looking for the ball well but basic errors undermined the positives in his game.

Leigh Halfpenny 6/10

Did what you’d hope from a fullback but little else. Of course solid with the boot but with Owen Farrell expected to start the Tests that weapon is taken away from his arsenal. Missed the tackle on West when he scored the match winning try.

Lions Total 92/150

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Replacements

Jonny Sexton made an early appearance, after Biggar went off injured and atoned slightly for a poor performance on Saturday. Liam Williams came on for his British and Irish Lions debut but did little more than pick up a yellow card for repeated infringements.

Ireland hooker Best came on and again had questions over his throwing, including when he turned over the Lions final chance of winning the game. How will that indiscretion impact on his future selection? 

In total, every man who ran out this Wednesday, and last Saturday, will be subdued. None made an entirely satisfactory outing. If they wish to face the Crusaders on Saturday, or possibly the Maori game on June 17, then improvement must be made…..by all 41 players.

Follow the British and Irish Lions tour, with match the ‘Out Roar 17’ updates, match reports and more player ratings over the 10 match tour schedule.