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Player Ratings As The Lions Blow A Lead To Draw With The Hurricanes

Player Ratings As The Lions Blow A Lead To Draw With The Hurricanes
By Gavin Cooney Updated

In the opening few minutes of the final midweek game, this game kicked off with a bit of a scrap, to which the stadium PA responded with The Beatles' All You Need is Love. And ultimately, for all of the Lions' abrasiveness, the Hurricanes' players found a response too , clawing back a 14-point deficit to secure a dramatic, 31-31 draw.

The Lions were more clinical: scoring two tries with just 34% territory in the first half, and taking the 'Canes for ten points while they had a man in the bin. The loss of Iain Henderson proved equally costly to the Lions: the Hurricanes levelled the scores while the Ulster man was watching on.

The biggest talking point from this game is the fact that the Lions front row played the full game, with Gatland's mid-tour call-ups sat on the bench for the full time.

Here are the Lions player ratings.

Lions Player Ratings

Jack Nowell - 7

Like North, the injury to Henshaw scuppered Nowell's chances of impressing at full-back, and was outshone by Seymour when he reverted to the wing.

Tommy Seymour - 7.5

Two tries here made Seymour the Lions' top try-scorer on tour nudging hi ahead of Nowell, Jack and Try, Penalty. The first was a try for all of Scotland: a score that had its origins in the mind of the Irish defensive coach. Seymour shot up to tackle the Hurricanes' receiver and rapidly appeared off his shoulder to finish the try. Caught too far infield on the Gossen try, and lost the ball in the Lions' final attack as they sought to snatch victory.

Jonathan Joseph - 6

Failed to make an impact going forward, making this another game bereft of his twinkle-toes. While he didn't bounce off as many tackles as he did against the Highlander, the Lions defence usually looks a bit more secure without him. Miles off a Test place.

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Robbie Henshaw - N/A

His match, and probably tour, was ended after 18 minutes here, as he went off clutching his shoulder. A premature end to a disappointing tour for Henshaw.

George North - 6.5

North had presumably spied this game as an opportunity to snaffle back a place on the wing, but for circumstances to conspire against him: Henshaw's injury saw North slot in at inside-centre. He was diced to pieces by the Hurricanes' movement on the Laumape try, although was alert to take his first try, and denied a second as his right foot strayed into touch. given how secure Ben Te'o's position is at inside-centre, and the cover Owen Farrell offers in that position, North would surely have preferred to stay on the wing.

Dan Biggar - 7.5

Lost eight minutes to his third HIA of the tour, having been lamped by Laumape on the 'Canes second try. His kicking was mixed along clearly delineated lines: from the tee he was impeccable, but out of hand was occasionally errant, twice failing to find touch from first-half penalties. Otherwise, a very fine performance by Biggar, who has proved to be the ideal midweek fly-half - although he missed a late drop-goal for victory.

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Greig Laidlaw - 6.5

Decent performance by Laidlaw, the intercept that led to the first try the highlight. The lowlight was being blown somewhere into next week by Calum Gibbons.

CJ Stander - 6

The Lions' top ball-carrier as per, but again failed to do a whole lot with it: making just 28 metres in 15 carries. Probably hasn't done enough to force his way onto the bench on Saturday, at the end of an exhausting season.

Justin Tipuric - 8.5

Tipuric should be involved in the Test squad. He was superb again today: he made a remarkable 20 tackles, his passing was inch-perfect, and contested virtually every single breakdown. He and Henderson were the Lions' top performers, and he is surely to the front of Gatland's mind regarding Saturday's selection.

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James Haskell - 6 

Perfectly passable from Haskell: he made 14 tackles without ever really providing much of a spark.

Courtney Lawes - 8

Another fine performance by Lawes: powerful in the air, and ferociously competitive in the line-out and virtually everywhere else. He was replaced by George Kruis after 55  minutes, meaning we will likely see him against the All Blacks on Saturday.

Iain Henderson - 8.5

Another phenomenal performance from Henderson: his ball-carrying was superb, forcing a couple of turnovers in the first-half through sheer ballast. He almost single-handedly changed the momentum of the second-half with a block-down at a box-kick, a phase which ended with three Lions point and a yellow for Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi. He then changed it back the other way with a reckless tip-tackle on Jordie Barrett: the Lions' conceded two tries and blew the lead with the Ulster second-row looking on.

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For all of his abrasiveness, he showed a pair of velvet hands to set up George North's try in the first-half.

In spite of that, he should surely make the Test squad this weekend.

Dan Cole - 6

There is no greater indictment of Warren Gatland's late call-ups to the squad than the fact that Cole, a 30-year-old tighthead prop, played a full eighty minutes in this game He battled gamely, failing to make an impact in the loose, but was involved in a scrum that never wobbled under Laidlaw's put-in.

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Rory Best (capt) - 7

Impressive performance by Best. His darts were accurate, while his work at the breakdown was eye-catching, making 12 tackles and winning a couple of turnovers, consistently slowing down the Hurricanes' ball. That's the reason Sam Warburton is being tipped to replace Peter O'Mahony in the second Test, so Best might just make the bench on Saturday.

Joe Marler - 7

Phenomenal work-rate around the field by Marler, making seven tackles, setting the tone for the Lions' fine first-half position.

Replacements 

Leigh Halfpenny made little impact as Henshaw's early replacement, with Biggar left on goal-kicking duty. George Kruis replaced Courtney Lawes, presumably emblematic of how much pressure he is under to hold onto his Test place, while Finn Russel at least got a game. That's more than can be said for the rest of the bench: the fact that they did not play is an indictment of Gatland's mid-tour call-ups.

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