South Africa v Lions - How they rated
June 27, 2009
JP Pietersen was sharp in scoring the Boks' opener © Getty Images
Bakkies Botha Heinrich Brussow Jean de Villiers Bismarck du Plessis Fourie du Preez Bryan Habana Adrian Jacobs Adam Jones Alun Wyn Jones Rob Kearney Victor Matfield Tendai Mtawarira Ruan Pienaar JP Pietersen Simon Shaw John Smit Phil Vickery
The Springboks have defeated the Lions in the Test series after a classic encounter in Pretoria, here's out verdict on the players that came together to create a tumultuous clash.
Francois Steyn: had a solid game at the back for the Springboks and was a constant threat with the distance of his line kicking. Always looked to run the ball back if there was space available and his mere presence kept the Lions' kicking game honest. 7/10
JP Pietersen: Took his try beautifully after coming off his wing to glide over under the posts. Defensively sound and when the game opened up in the second half found a bit of space in which to work. Good overall performance. 7
Adi Jacobs: Much-maligned last week for being defensively frail, this week Jacobs fronted better and was reasonably solid in that department. Carried the ball nicely once or twice and provided one neat switch to Bryan Habana. 6
Jean de Villiers: As a centre-pairing with Jacobs they looked a lot better and in general had a handle on the lethal Roberts-O'Driscoll axis. Didn't offer too much on attack though but did manipulate space through which Habana and Pietersen scored on his inside. 6
Bryan Habana: He spoke mid-week about improving his contribution to the team. Always hungry on defence and attack, nearly snaffling a trademark intercept, and took his try wonderfully well in the second half. 8
Ruan Pienaar: Last week he didn't put a foot wrong but this week he struggled to get control of the game as the Lions put him under enormous pressure. He missed two penalties and a conversion and those missed points nearly saw the Lions take the series to a decider. 5
Fourie du Preez: The scrum-half as always was the fulcrum of the Bok side. Varied his game well and when his forwards gained the ascendancy in the second half provided the runners with quick ball with which to attack. Clever work from him around the set-piece resulted in two of the Springbok tries. 8
Tendai Mtawarira: Adam Jones proved a much more difficult prospect this week than Phil Vickery did in Durban. His power was nullified though when the scrums became 'uncontested' due to injuries in the Lions front row. Was a presence in the loose. 7
Bismarck Du Plessis: Tackled hard and ran well with the ball. Put himself about well and was threw excellently into the lineout. Solid. 7
John Smit: The Boks' new regular tighthead has now won it all as Springbok captain. He gathered his troops and guided his side home albeit dramatically and is now firmly entrenched as one of the greatest Springbok captains of all time. That's a World Cup, Tri-Nations title and a Lions Series win. 9
Bakkies Botha: His usual belligerent self and on his home track he wasn't going to be bossed around by anybody in a red shirt. He hit the rucks hard and and tried to create as much clean ball as possible for his team. His battle with Simon Shaw was intriguing before he was substituted for Andries Bekker. 7
Victor Matfield: Still the undisputed 'lineout king' as he ruled the air in this game. His presence also seemed to affect the Lions hooker Matthew Rees who didn't throw-in well. His presence in the side along with John Smit helped see the Boks through in the end. One memorable dust-up with Brian O'Driscoll early on which shows just how much this series meant to the players. 8
Schalk Burger: His 50th test for the Boks but not his best by a long way. Did good work in and around the breakdown and made his usual return at the tackle count. Blighted though by what can only be described as 'madness' in the opening minute of the game as he appeared to make contact with the eye area of Luke Fitzgerald which saw him sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes. Lucky not to receive a red. 4
Juan Smith: The Boks' hard man was an ever present at the breakdown and carried well. Provided an excellent outlet at the back of the lineout creating holes in dogged Lions defence. 7
Pierre Spies: Has not had the impact on this series that some had predicted but showed in a number of surges and with his powerful hand-off that he committs defenders which opens up space for the rest of his team-mates. Loved playing at home and will relish the third test in which to leave his mark. 7
Morne Steyn: Kicked the winning penalty and was coolness personfied in a hugely pressured situation. In front of his home fans he stroked over ball as the siren sounded from within his own half to write himself into the annals of Springbok rugby folklore. 8
Jaque Fourie: Scored a crucial try in the Springboks' victory. Heinrich Brussow fed the Bok utility back who was on for Jean de Villiers and he crashed over in the corner for a superbly taken try. 7
Gethin Jenkins was one of several injuries for the Lions © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions
Rob Kearney: He had a fantastic game going forward and in defence. He took his chance brilliantly to score the Lions try. 8/10.
Tommy Bowe: Had a quiet game and was not helped by the pace of his opposing man Bryan Habana. 6.
Brian O'Driscoll: Was commanding in midfield and had an excellent game defensively putting in some crunching tackles. Had to go off after a collison with Danie Rossouw and has now played in three consecutive Lions series defeats despite a lionheart effort again today. 7.
Jamie Roberts: Had a quieter game after last week's sterling performance, was forced from the field by an injury late on. 6.
Luke Fitzgerald: Was allegedly eye-gouged in the first minute by Schalk Burger but kept his composure well after that to provide a decent outlet on the wing. 6.
Stephen Jones: Had an immense game kicking 20 points and conducted the game well. He set up the Lions' try with a brilliant quick pass and held his nerve as well to kick a late Lions equalsing penalty. 9.
Mike Phillips: Did not distribute the ball as quickly as he would have liked, but was a constant physical presence during the Lions' strong opening salvo. 7.
Gethin Jenkins: Went off twice for blood injuries and could not return after his clash with Bryan Habana. 6.
Matthew Rees: Was part of a much improved Lions scrum but lost three lineouts on his own throw. 6.
Adam Jones: Had a fantastic game in the scrum and made the 'Beast' look far less intimidating than last week. He went off with an arm injury and that cost the Lions. 8.
Simon Shaw: The veteran lock was a man mountain and collected the Man-of-the-Match award to cap his Test debut for the Lions. 9.
Paul O'Connell: Had his best game since arriving in South Africa but will be remembered for the next four years as a losing Lions captain. 7.
Tom Croft: Was less effective than in Durban but was involved in a few altercations with the Springboks which seemed to rattle them. 6.
David Wallace: Enjoyed the physical exchanges with the Springboks' pack and was part of an aggressive effort by the Lions at the breakdown. 7.
Jamie Heaslip: Tireless work rate which was critical in the Lions all round performance, still failed to live up to expectation with his carrying however. 7.
Andrew Sheridan: He looked powerful after replacing Jenkins. 7.
Alun-Wyn Jones: Came on for Adam Jones after the scrums went uncontested. 6.
Shane Williams: Replaced O'Driscoll but is still searching for the form he had last year. 6
Ronan O'Gara: Conceded the last-gasp penalty after a misguided up-and-under and it effectively cost the Lions the series. Will wish he had kicked the ball downfield. 4.
Martyn Williams: Had little time to affect the game.