3 Jun 2017

Lions notch up win over Barbarians, but who rated best?

10:46 pm on 3 June 2017

By Matt Richens* @MattRichens

In the wake of the Lions' tight 13-7 victory over the NZ Provincial Barbarians tonight, Matt Richens rates the good, the bad and the ugly from both sides.

Watch video highlights from the game here:


Lions v NZ Provincial Barbarians, Toll Stadium, Whangarei.

Tour Match 1

Lions 13 (Anthony Watson try, Owen Farrell conv, Jonny Sexton, Greig Laidlaw pens)

Provincial Barbarians 7 (Sam Anderson-Heather try, Bryn Gatland conv),

HT: 3-7

Read the full match report here, and see how it all went down with Jamie Wall's live blog here.


3 Taulupe Faletau

2 Ross Moriaty

1 Bryn Gatland

Sam Anderson-Heather scores a try for the Barbarians as his team mates celebrate.

Sam Anderson-Heather scores a try for the Barbarians as his team mates celebrate. Photo: PhotoSport



Not a great first half. Couldn't dominate and looked well short of a gallop and, strangely, of ideas. Better in the second half, but never did enough to shake the Barbars. Ominous signs for the tour and will need to be a lot more dominant against the Super teams, Maori and All Blacks.

Will blame a lack of time together, but EVERYONE expected more from a team made up of four test nations against a side featuring few players even at Super level.


The TAB had them as 36.5 point underdogs, but played with guts and fire. Despite never playing together, they looked slicker than the Lions at times. Most predicted the set-piece to struggle, but the Baabaas' scrum had parity throughout and the entire side punched a long way above their weight and for a lot longer than expected.


1 - Joe Marler - 5/10

Didn't manage to assert dominance at scrum time. Made a few tackles, but not an overly memorable game.

2 - Rory Best - 7/10

Does what he does acting as an extra loose forward. Did his core roles well and was solid without being outstanding. Lots of tackles.

3 - Kyle Sinckler - 7/10

Handled the ball plenty and had a high work rate, but like Marler and Best, struggled to dominate as they were expected to. Took a quick tap from penalty which led to turn-over in handy position while still down by one. Subbed soon after his dumb decision.

4 - Alun Wyn Jones - 7/10

Played a lot of minutes and was solid at line-out and physical throughout. Was on the receiving end of a couple of big Barbar hits, but looked classy and helped plenty at ruck time.

5 - Iain Henderson - 5/10

Another Lion who failed to make a real impact and will need to do more to play the big games. He made a few tackles but had a largely quiet game before being pulled early in the second half.

6 - Ross Moriaty - 8/10

Solid in defence, but strong with ball in hand, possibly showing the way Gatland wants to use his loosies. One of the best for Lions, good run that led to their only try and did plenty of work. One of the few Lions to be proud of his Game One performance.

7 - Sam Warbuton (c) - 5 /10

Took his time to get involved in the game. Looked pedestrian at times. Used as line-out option. Made seven tackles and hardly carried. Good for a run returning from injury, but didn't impose himself at all and strangely turned down penalty attempt just before halftime.

British and Irish Lions' Taulupe Faletau looks to break a tackle.

British and Irish Lions' Taulupe Faletau looks to break a tackle. Photo: AFP

8 - Taulupe Faletau - 8/10

Another impressive Lion. Saved a try through brute strength. Was tough to bring down on attack and often tested the Barbar's defence. Was the player of the first 40 and showed plenty to like throughout.

9 - Greig Laidlaw - 5/10

Under pressure, not a lot of clean ball early. Reluctant to pass off the deck and will need to be quicker against better opposition. Busy game, but more needed from him and little chance of playing tests on that form.

10 - Johnny Sexton - 6/10

Kicked at 100 perecent in Six Nations, but missed his first kick tonight. Kicked out on the full from a cross kick. Was another where more was expected and didn't further his case for the 10 jersey in the tests. Didn't enjoy great service from Laidlaw.

11 - Tommy Seymour - 5/10

Had a quiet first half. Got plenty of ball but only ran for 44m despite getting space at the back. Was busy, but far from perfect.

12 - Ben Te'o - 8/10

The Lions best back. Easily. Wasn't just the battering ram we expected. Looked dangerous and popped up outside centre Jonathan Joseph a couple of times. Ran and passed well. Will be a handful throughout the tour.

13 - Jonathan Joseph - 5/10

Was outplayed by Te'o. Held up over the line just before the break. Pretty quiet and easy to forget performance.

14 - Anthony Watson - 5/10

Didn't realise he was on the field until he scored and was another who failed to shine in a game where he should have. Did a bit of work, but not enough and needed to go and find more.

15 - Stuart Hogg - 3/10

Was poor. Made a basic mistake early and never really got going. Was run over by the Baabaas and his poor pass cost Watson a try in the first half. Will want to forget quickly.


16 - Jamie George - 5/10

Came on with 30 minutes to go. Didn't make a huge impact once on, made a couple of good tackles.

17 - Mako Vunipola - 5/10

Another one to come on with 30 to go. Won a vital turnover late in the game.

18 - Tadhg Furlong - 5/10

Busy on defense, but, like so many others, didn't assert himself in his half an hour on the paddock.

19 - George Kruis - 6/10

Good lineout win off opposition throw, kept head down and played it tight.

20 - Justin Tipuric - 5/10

Noticeable when he came on, possibly because of his bright blue headgear. Did little wrong, but hardly shone either.

21 - Rhys Webb - 6/10

Kicked often and well. The Welshman offered more than Laidlaw and faster pass helped.

22 - Owen Farrell - 6/10

Attempted to take charge when he took the field. Snuck first kick of tour in and hit the post with second attempt. Was vocal and focussed. Benefitted from better ball than Sexton had.

23 - Elliot Daly - DNP


1 - Aidan Ross - 7/10

Competitive at scrum time and not outclassed. Good strip from a ruck turning defense into attack. Got around the field well especially in defense and didn't look out of his depth.

2 - Sam Anderson-Heather - 8/10

Inspirational. Was the Barbars' player of the first half, but injury ended his match after 40. Good at lineout time, solid in the scrum and impressive around the field and scored the first try, dragging players over the line with him. Wouldn't look out of place in a Super team week in and week out.

3 - Oliver Jager - 5/10

A couple of knock ons the second of which gave up a handy attacking position. Was the cornerstone of an impressive Barbar's scrum and didn't look out of place against what should have been a strong Lions' front row.

4 - Josh Goodhue - 6/10

Carried well when given a chance. Important late lineout win, one of his four in an 80 minute performance.

5 - Keepa Mewett - 6/10

Grassed the ball in midfield gifting Lions good position late in first half. Competitive at setpiece and strong defence in red zone. Was handy enough at setpiece.

6 - James Tucker - 6/10

Got stuck and made plenty of tackles. Didn't shirk the work in an enthusiastic effort.

7 - Lachlan Boshier - 6/10

Took a heavy knock early in first half but played through it and had a strong enough performance in his 45 minutes. Competed with Warbuton and co.

8 - Mitchell Dunshea - 7/10

Good line-out option, made a good run in the final 10 and tackled like a trooper.

9 - Jack Stratton - 7/10

Quick around the field. Crisp clearance contributed to first try. Had the wood over Laidlaw in a lively performance while also defended solidly in his 50 minutes, too.

10 - Bryn Gatland - 8/10

Promising early cross kick (the new black) and used his boot as an attacking option often, and to good effect. Brave performance taking the ball to line and tackled stoically. Was very busy and one of the Barbars' best.

11 - Sevu Reece - 7 /10

Got involved in the game early. Ran with purpose and pace. Good offloads and looked good in the little space he had.

12 - Dwayne Sweeney - 5/10

Had a couple of nice touches and linked well with outsides. Made a poor decision to kick early in second half to give possession away in a handy position.

13 - Inga Finau 6/10

Defended well early and did well to hit to snuff out one attacking movement. Showed promise in support play and was unlucky to be held up over the line early. Went off in before the 20 minute mark due to injury. Shame he got injured.

14 - Sam Vaka - 7/10

Made a big run early but went on to grass a goober. Showed good skill to tip-toe down the sideline and made an important try saving tackle before half time.

Luteru Laulala breaks away.

Luteru Laulala breaks away. Photo: PhotoSport

15 - Luteru Laulala - 8/10

Made a scintillating break early which should have led to the first try of the tour. Made impressive metres, a game high 133, and looked dangerous throughout. Didn't have a lot to do on defence, but did it well.


16 - Andrew Makalio - 6/10

Came on at halftime and made a big impression early with a huge hit on Wyn-Jones. Went on to make some handy metres and was solid at lineout time though did have a late one pinched.

17 - Tolu Fahamokioa - 5/10

Didn't seem to lose any parity at scrum time. Made some good tackles.

18 - Marcel Renata - 5/10

Not a stand-out. Made a few tackles in his 20 minutes.

19 - Matt Matich - 6/10

Made an impact early and was busy and visible. Should lose a point for his man-bun. Important lineout win in last few minutes.

20 - Peter Rowe - 5/10

Reasonably quiet outing in his 20 minutes, but still a great yarn and the only player without Mitre 10 Cup experience didn't look out of his depth.

21 - Richard Judd - 6/10

Looked busy and passed well. Ran a bit more than Stratton.

22 -Jonah Lowe - 6/10

Looked busy, made good metres after an early inclusion, but was never allowed to assert himself.

23 - Joe Webber - 5/10

Made a costly handling mistake in last five minutes. An otherwise quiet effort.

* Matt Richens has been a sports journalist for 11 years, is the new president of the Mitchell Hunt fan club and was helped doing the ratings by mates Nick and Phil.

Ben Te'o is tackled by New Zealand's Provincial Bararians Luteru Laulala

Ben Te'o is tackled by New Zealand's Provincial Bararians Luteru Laulala Photo: AFP

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