The British and Irish Lions started their much-anticipated three-match test series against the world champion Springboks on Saturday, looking to shake off the ghosts of 2009 with a victory.
The Lions were hit with some last minute injury concerns to prop Wyn Jones, ruling him out of the test, taking away one of the players that was dominant against the Springbok front row in the SA 'A' match.
After a first half which saw the Springboks playing in a lot of the right areas, and putting scoreboard pressure on the tourists, the Lions were unable to get their kicking off the tee going.
However, it was the Lions that won the second half as the Springboks' lack of game time and training proved to get the better of them.
British and Irish Lions Player Ratings
Rory Sutherland 6.5/10
The Lions' scrum was under immense pressure in the first half, with Rory Sutherland being pinged on a number of occasions at the scrum. While he did not make much of an impact with ball in hand, his defence was strong and he grew into the scrums, ultimately getting the ascendency.
Luke Cowan-Dickie 7/10
Luke Cowan-Dickie scored the decisive try that brought the tourists back into the match in the beginning of the second half, and made a number of tackles off the ball, helping the Lions to secure the victory.
Tadhg Furlong 7/10
While he was on the back foot for much of the first half, Tadhg Furlong worked his way back into the match along with the rest of his side, making a good number of tackles and taking control at the scrum.
Maro Itoje 8.5/10
Maro Itoje was the only one in good stead for the Lions at half time, as he was brilliant throughout the match at the ruck, causing issues for the Springboks. While he was not a big ball carrier, defensively Itoje made a huge amount of tackles, and was a deserved player of the match.
Alun Wyn Jones 7/10
Alun Wyn Jones took a while to get into the game, as did the rest of his team, however it was defensively that the Lions captain made the most of his minutes. You would not have said he had a dislocated shoulder a few weeks ago with the number of tackles he made, and his soft hands in the second half made gave the Lions some impetus on attack.
Courtney Lawes 7.5/10
Courtney Lawes came out firing in the second half, making a number of big hits and winning turnovers, but it was with ball in hand that he began to get the ascendancy. With 33 metres in just eight carries, and tied with Jones and Itoje for the most tackles on the day.
Tom Curry 6/10
Tom Curry was overshadowed by the two other loose forwards in red against South Africa, as he made zero metres despite having seven carries, while not racking up his usual high tackle numbers or turnovers.
Jack Conan 7.75/10
Jack Conan showed why Warren Gatland had the faith in him to start him ahead of Taulupe Faletau, making a huge amount of metres with ball in hand, while subsequently doing well to stem the Springbok attack.
Ali Price 6.5/10
Ali Price repaid the trust Gatland placed in him to put up a solid performance without too much to write home about. When the Springboks were dominating the collisions in the first half, Price could not get too much good ball, however as they tired, the Lions began to win the collisions and Price, and later Conor Murray, were able to get quick ball out to their backline.
Dan Biggar 6.5/10
The Welsh flyhalf missed a fairly simple kick by his standards in the first half, giving the hosts the early confidence, however he built his way back into the game early in the second half. It is telling, though, that the Lions looked much better with Murray and Owen Farrell on the park.
Duhan van der Merwe 7.25/10
Duhan van der Merwe looked hungry for work early but was not able to make much impact for most of the first half. While he did not beat Cheslin Kolbe often for pace or on the ball, he stood his ground well under the high ball and did well to front up against a player that is widely considered one of the best players in the world.
Robbie Henshaw 6.75/10
Robbie Henshaw was not hugely involved in the first half, but his first real possession was a strong breakthrough run that ended in a knock-on, which spoilt what looked like a certain try. He ultimately made a good number of metres with ball in hand, making a good number of tackles too, but it was not his best day.
Elliot Daly 5.5/10
Elliot Daly looked stunned by the Springboks' physicality in the first half, and was not able to make a contribution to the scoreboard with the boot when it was needed. Daly made no real impact with ball in hand, and was a liability defensively, giving away a number of penalties.
Anthony Watson 6.75/10
Anthony Watson was not asked to do too much at all, as the majority of the match was made up of kicking plays and play inside the centres. However, he still managed to beat seven defenders and made 26 metres to make a decent account of himself.
Stuart Hogg 7/10
Stuart Hogg was solid in the back field after he was asked to make a number of covering catches after the Springboks often put boot to ball. He looked good with ball in hand and will be happy to finally get a test cap for the Lions in his third tour.
Marius Jonker 5/10
The TMO missed a clear yellow card on Hamish Watson, and made a number of poor decisions against both sides. He will need to be better in the remainder of the tests.
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