South Africa 19 Lions 16 - How the Lions players rated

John O’Sullivan hands out the marks after the series decider

15 Liam Williams

One brilliant high-ball take but the fact that he failed to convert a basic two-on-one and give Josh Adams a try-scoring pass will be a source of massive regret given the final score. Rating: 5

14 Josh Adams

He was solid in most things he did – one or two high balls aside – including a couple of promising runs but didn't get the type of ball in attack that would maximise his impact potential. Rating: 6

13 Robbie Henshaw

For me, across the three Tests, he's been the outstanding Lions player in the series, his work ethic in attack and defence, ability to read the game, to beat players and give his team front-foot ball is exceptional. Rating: 8

12 Bundee Aki

He had some excellent moments, particularly in the first half when he ensured several positive gainlines for his team, while his influence was less conspicuous after the interval; conceded three penalties according to the official stats. Rating: 6


11 Duhan van der Merwe

He showed in one or two glimpses of what he is capable of when he received some ball, even in very little space, when he forced his way through or past several tacklers. Rating: 6

10 Dan Biggar

He missed an early penalty and was forced off after 11 minutes in making a try saving tackle but his replacement gave the Lions a different dimension in attack. Rating: 4

9 Ali Price

He brought pace and tempo to the Lions' patterns when the team played its best rugby in the first half and his box-kicking was pretty accurate too: one highball knock-on just before being replaced and a couple of handling errors but a lively contribution. Rating: 6

1 Wyn Jones

He conceded a couple of scrum penalties but was injured at the time of the second one and replaced shortly afterwards. It was a pity because he carried well and rocked up in defence. Rating: 5

2 Ken Owens

The Lions' try scorer, he brought his typical work-rate and the set piece, lineout (seven out of eight) and scrum, functioned well while he also won an important turnover penalty. Rating: 6

3 Tadhg Furlong

He squeezed a couple of scrum penalties and was busy without having the same impact that he did in the first two Tests. Rating: 6

4 Maro Itoje

A couple of eye-catching bursts took him through the Springbok defence before getting isolated and that was responsible for two of the three penalties he conceded. Typically industrious, he carried, forced a turnover and worked hard for his team. Rating: 7

5 Alun Wyn Jones (capt)

A couple of offloads led to linebreaks and while he applied himself diligently there were a few errors and he'll reflect on decisions to go to the corner and not take three points in a game ultimately decided by that margin. Rating: 6

6 Courtney Lawes

He worked hard, carrying more than any other forward and was also used as a distributor without ever reaching the levels he broached in the first Test. He was pinged for the match-winning penalty after being trapped in a ruck. Rating: 6

7 Tom Curry

He gave away a couple of penalties but was another who worked hard on both sides of the ball. The Boks were better at the breakdown for much of the series, managing to slow down Lions ball. Rating: 6

8 Jack Conan

Nine carries, six tackles, two defenders beaten, two linebreaks, one offload, one turnover won, one conceded and a handling error. The ledger has been overwhelmingly positive across the series and he's deserved his starting place. Rating: 6


Finn Russell was brilliant and a breath of fresh air in the manner in which he brought his vision, passing and place-kicking to bear on the contest. When the Lions were good he was invariably at the epicentre. Conor Murray doubled down on the strategy to kick to the corner that Jones had pushed when the scrumhalf took over the captaincy. Sam Simmonds gave the team energy when he came on. Rating: based on Russell alone: 8


Warren Gatland will be hugely disappointed not with the effort or the application of his players but losing the series 2-1. It was a case of fine margins and the very nature of sport is parsed through the results. If he had his time back he might have made one or two different choices and perhaps not been so conservative and kicking orientated in terms of the game plan. Two maul tries in three Test matches. Rating: 6