Rugby

Player Ratings As The Lions Beat The Chiefs To Finally Win A Midweek Game

Player Ratings As The Lions Beat The Chiefs To Finally Win A Midweek Game

The Lions have their first midweek victory of the 2017 tour, sauntering to a 34-6 victory over the Waikato Chiefs. The Chiefs were without their All Blacks, and other notable players including Liam Messam were playing four days after turning out for the Maori, but were comprehensively defeated here. The Lions set-pieces ran smoothly; the Chief's malfunctioned badly: their line-out was a disaster, and their scrum was soundly beaten.

For the Lions, they finally exploited some space, with this the best performance by the back three on the tour thus far. It's time for the serious business now, but the midweek side have held up their end of the bargain.

Here are your Lions player ratings.

Lions Player Ratings 

Liam Williams - 7.5 

Williams' best performance of the tour thus far. He made a lot of the space he found in front of him, and it was his break that set-up Jared Payne's try. He dovetailed well with his wingers throughout, even sparking life into Jack Nowell. Defensively, he covered the space behind him well, and wasn't tested in the air.

Jack Nowell - 8 

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Having endured a nightmare tour thus far, this was somewhat of a resurrection for Nowell: scoring two tries to join, er, Mr Try, Penalty as the Lions' top try-scorer on this tour. Both finishes were exceptional. Dovetailed very well with Liam Williams, in particular.

Jared Payne - 7 

Payne's versatility was one of the reasons for his inclusion in the sqaud, although not even he would have expected to be packing down for a scrum. Critical in support of the third try, and finished the fourth. A fine performance, albeit against the poorest Super Rugby side we've seen thus far.

Robbie Henshaw - 6 

Failed to find space in an absurdly claustrophobic midfield before the third try loosened proceedings up. Defensively, he was strong, twice turning the ball over on Chiefs' attacks early in the second half. But this has been a highly frustrating tour for Henshaw, tinged with a horrible feeling that he hasn't truly been afforded a platform to show what he can do.

Elliot Daly - 7.5

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Daly occasionally offered a threat when ghosting inside off Biggar's left shoulder, and performed well when tested in the air. In the second-half, he may have fastened his position as number 23 in the Test match: his exquisite break and pass to set up the third try was his final act before making way for Tommy Seymour. His versatility, and the range he adds for his kicking tee, means he might just make the Test squad.

Dan Biggar - 7

Biggar is the perfect mid-week fly-half, trusted to lead in games like these while also teasing performances which wouldn't look out of the Test games. His tackling was ferocious and Biggar was at the vanguard of the Lions' exceptional defensive line speed. He once again attacked the line as well, as good Sexton and Farrell have on this tour thus far, although his passing was occasionally amiss. Goal-kicking flawless.

Greg Laidlaw - 6

His passing lacks the snap of Webb and Murray, while his box-kicking is not in Murray's vaunted league. Ah, he was grand.

Joe Marler - 6 

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Untroubled in the scrum but sloppy in the loose, with his performance mar(ler)red by this moronic collision with Nepo Laulala, ending with his first sin-binning of the tour.

Rory Best - 7 

Solid performance from the captain. Threw one errant dart, as per, but otherwise it was spot-on, adapting to throw to Tipuric under Wyn-Jones' instruction in the second-half. His work in the loose was tireless, making 8 tackles.

Dan Cole - 8

Cole endured a nightmare against the Highlanders last week, but this brought some sweet relief, as he was part of an utterly dominant scrum. His work in the loose was hugely impressive, restoring a reputation that took a bit of a battering a week ago. Made a turnover in the 80th minute: it was that kind of performance.

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Iain Henderson - 7.5

Another fine performance by Henderson, once again gobbling up yards with every carry, adding to that brusque physicality some delightful, velvet hands. With 11 tackles tonight, Henderson is having a fine tour.

Courtney Lawes - 8 

Lawes was once again fantastic: line-out work immaculate, and ensured some quick Lions ball in the first-half with some superb clearing out. Like the previous week against the Highlanders, he underwent a HIA, but this time returned to pick up where he left off. It is a sign of the depth the Lions have at second-row that Lawes will likely miss out on the Test squad.

James Haskell - 7 

Haskell's best Lions performance to date, garlanded by some superb clear-outs to maintain go-forward ball, the most notable ending with the Lions' best try of the competition so far, Nowell's second. Joint-top tackler, with 14.

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Justin Tipuric - 7.5

Offered a Peter O'Mahony-style option at the lineout, plucking the ball from Rory Best to begin the drive over for the second try.Made an impressive 14 tackles, although was pinged once for brainlessly going off his feet at the end of the first-half.

CJ Stander - 6.5

Once again, Stander carried the ball frequently, if not very far, making 40 metres in 14 carries. He was targeted to varied Chiefs' success in the first-half, but secured a couple of outstanding turnovers in that first-half.

Replacements - 8 

Allan Dell made a brief appearance to win the Payne-aided scrum; Alun-Wyn Jones made an equally brief cameo during Lawes' HIA, and showed why he may be called upon against New Zealand: his instructing Best to throw to Tipuric in the line-out prefacing a penalty try; Tommy Seymour made one fantastic break, only to render it useless by butchering a certain try by tossing the ball at Payne's feet.

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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