17 Jun 2017

Lions beat Māori All Blacks 32-10: Who rated the best

10:46 pm on 17 June 2017

By Matt Richens* @MattRichens

The Lions have dominated their match against the Māori All Blacks in Rotorua, winning 32-10, but how did the individual players do? Matt Richens rates them all.

British and Irish Lions v Māori All Blacks, Rotorua Stadium, Rotorua

Tour Match 5

LIONS 32 (Penalty try, Maro Itoje try, Leigh Halfpenny, conv, 6 pens)

MAORI ALL BLACKS 10 (Liam Messam try, Damian McKenzie conv, pen)

HT: 12-10


3 Conor Murray

2 Sean O'Brien

1 Jonathan Sexton/Maro Itoje

No caption

Photo: PhotoSport



Easily their best game of the tour and made clear the blueprint of how they will play in the tests. It wasn't 10-man rugby, but they completely starved the Māori of ball and territory.

Their loosies were dominant and they did the basics better than their hosts. It started in threes, but once their pack got dominance they took off.

Lots to like and while the All Blacks are another big step up, the Lions showed how they want to play and frustration might be a key word of test number one.


Were suffocated out of the game. They did well to keep with the Lions in the first spell, but poor discipline - which cost them 12 first half points - led to more in the second half.

Lacked the ability to stop a pretty easy to read Lions' plan and were unable to use their weapons or play their usual free-flowing game.


1 - MAKO VUNIPOLA - 7/10

Looked to make an impact with the ball in hand. Got over the ball to win a good turnover penalty from Proctor. Tackled well. The Lions have struggled to get dominance in the tight and Vunipola helped them do it tonight.

2 - JAMIE GEORGE - 7/10

A strong game in all facets and will give Gatland something else to think about. Won all seven lineouts and he popped up plenty around the field.

3 - TADHG FURLONG - 7/10

Got a serve from Vunipola for not listening to referee Piper and giving away a silly late first-half penalty. Scrummed well especially playing his part in the penalty try. Not sure he'll start in the tests.

4 - MARO ITOJE - 8/10

Used as a battering ram early. Great penalty turnover against Ngatai on the stroke of halftime as the New Zealand Māori were starting to look dangerous. Did plenty of work and impressed with what he did - made 25m in the tight and made seven tackles - but questions remain over how dominant he'll be against the All Blacks. Should start in first test on form though.

5 - GEORGE KRUIS - 7/10

Was an easy target in the lineout and will be tough to pinch off if he plays in the tests. Tackled well and won four lineouts in a strong 59-minutes.

6 - PETER O'MAHONY (C)- 7/10

Stamped his mark as skipper going for the try when Kerr-Barlow was in the sin-bin. Didn't score from the lineout but did with a penalty try from a scrum soon after. Part of a loose forward trio that completely dominated their Māori counterparts. The ABs loosies will be a step-up.

7 - SEAN O'BRIEN - 8/10

Impressed and got involved at the breakdown. Got his hands on the ball plenty of times and putting a heap of pressure on tour captain Warburton for the test seven jersey, though the Māori lacked a fetching loosie and it showed.


Strong performance, especially with ball in hand. Made 34 metres and backed that up with six tackles. Had a busy game close to the ruck, but is one of the few Lions who has the skills to be more expansive when needed.

9 - CONOR MURRAY - 8/10

Kicked a lot, but kicked well and again was one of the best Lions on the park. Controlled the game for the Lions and will be one of the players they will look to if they are to beat the All Blacks.


Tried to make a physical impression early, got involved in a ruck and blowing through and making good tackles. Taking the ball to the line more. Still kicked well, but not as one-dimensional as the Lions can be at 10 and the fact he mixed it up caused the Māori to stand off and Sexton flourished.

11 - GEORGE NORTH - 6/10

Really poor going back to collect a kick through from Milner-Skudder, fumbled the ball leading to Messam's try. Was much better the second time and sneaked out of an awkward spot in his corner well.

12 - BEN TE'O - 8/10

Quiet first half. Put the Lions on the front foot running over McKenzie that almost led to a try for the Lions. Made some good offloads in the tackle. Carried the ball well in the second half including one great break. Had plenty to say during final minutes melee.

Jonathan Davies makes a break for the Lions.

Jonathan Davies makes a break for the Lions. Photo: PhotoSport


Made a clean break but tucked the ball under his arm and went alone with support around him leaving a possible try begging. Supported and worked with Johnny Sexton well. A couple of good attacking kicks. Forged a strong midfield with Te'o.

14 - ANTHONY WATSON - 5/10

Ball didn't come his way, so he had no opportunities to shine or make mistakes. On the wing to chase kicks. Made a whopping four metres on attack, but unsure if Te'o and Davies knew Watson was outside them.


Kicked well and kept his 100 percent record on tour up. Did basics well, but had very little defending to do, but added a bit on attack a couple of times.


16 - KEN OWENS - 6/10

Busy in his 16 minutes on the field. Backed up what George had started with.

17 - JACK MCGRATH - 6/10

Got on for the final 21 minutes. Wasn't as strong as Vunipolo, but did nothing wrong either.

18 - KYLE SINCKLER - 6/10

Carried on with what the rest of the forwards had done before taking the field. Would have no doubt liked more time to prove himself, but should be on the bench in the test.

19 - IAIN HENDERSON - 6/10

Made some metres in his 21 minutes and has probably done enough to make Gatland think of him as part of the 23 for next Saturday.

20 - SAM WARBURTON - 6/10

Test starting spot under pressure, did nothing wrong but O'Brien and O'Mahony impressed and he looked desperate to get on to prove himself. He did step up as a leader during a scuffle but plenty of the squad could do that role and he shouldn't get picked on leadership over the in-form loosies.

21 - GREIG LAIDLAW - 5/10

Needs to show a bit more, Murray clearly number one but may struggle to make the bench especially as a fourth halfback has been added to the squad.

22 - DAN BIGGAR - 5/10

Didn't get a chance to prove he's anything but the the Lions' third 10, though did nothing wrong either.

23 - ELLIOT DALY - 5/10

Replaced North and got 17 minutes. The Lions kept it tight so no opportunities to show what he can do.


1- KANE HAMES - 5/10

Held his own at scrum time apart from the penalty try. Not noticed around the field but busy doing his core role.

2- ASH DIXON (C) - 5/10

Usually an inspirational leader, but couldn't do enough to fire up his side who looked to have few answers for the Lions' improved second half. Shouldn't be blamed for his side's ill-discipline, but most of his time featuring on the coverage was when referee Piper was telling his side off.

3 - BEN MAY - 6/10

Helped earn a penalty off Itoje with superbly strong tackle. Made plenty more tackles but not able to impose himself in a beaten forward pack.

4 - JOE WHEELER - 6/10

Hardly touched the ball in the first half, but was frantic on defence making a game high 11 tackles in the first 40. Continued on in the second half, but tackling seldom wins matches.

5 - TOM FRANKLIN - 5/10

Conceded the ball a couple of times but, like most of the Māori, had plenty of tackles to make and did that well.

6 - AKIRA IOANE - 7/10

Strong as always with ball in hand, dragging defenders with him in an early chance, but didn't see a lot of ball. Made a bundle of tackles and was one of the few Maori to play well.

7 - ELLIOT DIXON - 5/10

Wasn't seen a lot around the field. Made his tackles and worked hard. Showed that he is better suited at 6 than 7.

Liam Messam scores a try.

Liam Messam scores a try. Photo: PhotoSport

8 - LIAM MESSAM - 7/10

Clever kick after George North's 12th minute error and finished the try well. Made plenty of tackles, but a lack of ball stopped him showing his full array of skills.


Dumb penalty to give away three points at the start of the second half. Then was perhaps lucky to be only shown a yellow for a no-arms, high tackle. His absence helped the Lions score two tries. Showed he's still a long way from being in the same class as Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara.


Didn't look out of place at first-five, but was outplayed by Sexton. Worth remembering he hasn't played a lot of 10 lately. Made mistakes too, though it wasn't the type of game that suited.

11 - RIEKO IOANE - 4/10

Dropped ball in ninth minute which led to offside and Halfpenny's second penalty. His team's lack of ball meant he had no opportunities to repeat his performance for the Blues earlier in the tour.

12 - CHARLIE NGATAI - 5/10

Found space with one raking kick. Few opportunities on attack. One important turnover on the goal-line. Just good to see him back on the field.

13 - MATT PROCTOR - 3/10

Had a very quiet game and never had a chance to do anything on attack. Went off with what looked like a serious shoulder injury with half an hour to go.


Not a great kick in the first quarter, but George North's awful handling led to Messam's try. Very few opportunities to show his skills and when he touched the ball with 10 to go it was a reminder he was even on the park.

15 - JAMES LOWE - 3/10

Early mistake kicking out on the full. Another early in the second half dropping a regulation bomb. Lacked opportunities on attack and when he did have them he looked a very different player from the Super Rugby version. Not a great performance.


16 - HIKA ELLIOT - 5/10

Had the chance to chat with Lions forwards but little else.

17 - CHRIS EVES - 5/10

Came on once the Lions forwards had complete dominance and that was never going to change late.

18 - MARCEL RENATA - 6/10

Replaced May with 11 to go and made five tackles in the tight.

19 - LEIGHTON PRICE - 5/10

Made one tackle in his 11 minutes. The game was well and truly over by then.

20 - KARA PRYOR - 5/10

Nine minutes once the game was gone replacing Dixon. It was a tough game for a replacement to come and by the time Pryor came, there was little that could be done.

21 - BRYN HALL - 5/10

Didn't get as long as perhaps he should have as Kerr-Barlow wasn't up to much. Did nothing wrong, but is now 0 from 2 against the Lions.

22 - IHAIA WEST - 5/10

Had a quiet 15 minutes and no chance to be a hero like 10 days ago.

23 - ROB THOMPSON - 5/10

Replaced Proctor, but like him hardly touched the ball. A tough game to be a ball-playing back when you have no ball or possession.

Previous ratings

Tour Match 4 Ratings here HIGHLANDERS 23 Lions 22

Tour Match 2 Ratings here BLUES 22 Lions 16

Tour Match 1 Ratings here LIONS 13 NZ Provincial Barbarians 7

* Matt Richens has been a sports journalist for more than a decade, is such a one-eyed Cantab that he eats "Canterbury Toast - Marmite on one side and raspberry jam on the other - and was helped out doing these ratings by his mate Nick Bates.

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