Keo.co.za brings you the Lions’ player ratings from their third tour match against the Cheetahs.
15 Lee Byrne (5/10) – Uncharacteristically mistimed a few kicks and dropped an up-and-under in the second last movement. This could have and should have afforded the Cheetahs the opportunity to sink a penalty, but referee Wayne Barnes didn’t award it. It was overall a very poor showing by Byrne after his great game last Saturday.
14 Leigh Halfpenny (5/10) – Arrived in South Africa on Tuesday and didn’t see much action. Was ineffectual on attack and Danwel Demas fended him off with ease at times.
13 Keith Earls (6/10) – Would have been wanting to put the nightmare of last Saturday behind him. Trying to go solo, he isolated himself the first time he touched the ball. However, he showed a good swerve to finish well for the team’s second try.
12 Luke Fitzgerald (4/10) – His first match for the Lions after suffering from an injury during the early stages of tour. Was conspicuous by his absence and hardly featured.
11 Shane Williams (5/10) – His defensive frailties were highlighted when he got handed off by JW Jonker, while the hosts also attempted to take advantage of his lack of height by putting the ball in behind him. With ball in hand, he was more involved than the previous couple of games and his stepping may evade tacklers, but he rarely gets over the advantage line. This was highlighted when he threw the intercept pass for Corne Uys’s try.
10 James Hook (6/10) - The Welshman slotted six from six and this was the difference between the sides. He put in a neatly-weighted chip for Earls’s try, but his tactical kicking wasn’t great, which allowed the Cheetahs to counter from the back with ease. His defence was also not up to Test standard.
9 Harry Ellis (6/10) – Hasn’t played much rugby in the past two months but adds much energy to the side, which could win him a spot on the bench behind Mike Phillips. It would not have pleased him, however, as his opposite number Tewis de Bruyn ghosted around the fringes on a couple of occasions. His use of the boot was also lacking.
8 Andy Powell (6/10) – First start for Lions and he was used well as the ball-carrier off the lineout, appearing in the close and wide channels. He also combined well in his interplay with Ferris especially.
7 Joe Worsley (5/10) – Worsley was a late replacement for the injured Martyn Williams. In his battle with Heinrich Brüssow he was nowhere to be seen in the first half and he’ll certainly know a lot more more about the pilferer after this weekend. His defence is his greatest asset and his true value will be realised come Test time.
6 Stephen Ferris (7/10) – His first start for the Lions and he showed good pace for such a big man as he capitalised on De Bruyn’s mistake at a ruck to sprint in from 40m. He did well to make a covering tackle but his cynical infringement where he didn’t roll away – typifying the Lions’ spoiling tactics – earned him 10 minutes in the bin. That cost his side 14 points in the opening half. He was one of only a few players to stay industrious throughout.
5 Paul O’Connell (6/10) – His second game in charge and he would have been wanting to prove his leadership abilities. It will be worrying both of those games have been typified by lacklustre performances by his team-mates. Personally he was solid at the kick-offs and was also strong in the lineouts.
4 Donncha O’Callaghan (6/10) – His opening outing on the tour and nerves efected him as he dropped a first pass. However he put the hosts’ lineout under pressure and stole a couple in the first half.
3 Euan Murray (6/10) – After destroying the Bok front-row last year at Murrayfield, much was expected from the Scot. He didn’t disappoint as he dominated at the set-piece and his aggression was evident as his scuffle with Wian du Preez sparked off the handbags in the first half.
2 Ross Ford (6/10) – A couple of skew throws marred his night but being the heaviest hooker in the squad he could come into the reckoning for the Test 22.
1 Andrew Sheridan (8/10) – In his battle with Kobus Calldo the Englishman won three penalties from referee Barnes, and then a fourth when WP Nel was on. In total he won nine points with his destruction of the scrum, but in gauging this performance it must remembered this Cheetahs’ front-row got punished by the ridiculed Stormers’ front-row in the final game of the Super 14.
16 Matthew Rees – Not enough time to be judged
17 Adam Jones – As above.
18 Simon Shaw – As above.
19 Nathan Hines – As above.
20 Mike Blair – As above.
21 Ronan O’Gara – As above.
22 Gordon D’Arcy (6/10) – Added spark to the backs and he could be an option for the Test team.
By Grant Ball, at Vodacom Park