South Africa 26-21 British & Irish Lions, Kings Park
South Africa v Lions - How they rated
June 20, 2009

The Lions fell just short in the first Test at Kings Park, but there were notable contributions from both sides. Here's our verdict on the individuals that came together to create a pulsating encounter in Durban.

British & Irish Lions

Lee Byrne Missed the warm-up and looked out of sorts before going off after 38 minutes. 5/10.

Tommy Bowe Had a try disallowed but did not let that deter him as he was a constant threat in midfield throughout. 7

Brain O'Driscoll: O'Driscoll was a threat to the Springboks for the whole match and linked brilliantly with Jamie Roberts. Their partnership lived up to the pre-test hype. Took a head knock late on but wild horses couldn't drag the Irishman off. 8

Jamie Roberts The Lions most creative attacking weapon. An impressive performance in every sense. The O'Driscoll/Roberts link was a definite positive for the Lions to take to Pretoria. 8

Ugo Monye: Unlucky not to score in the first-half when Jean de Villiers got his arm under the ball and then denied a score by Morne Steyn's superb tackle. 6

Stephen Jones Missed a couple of early kicks which could have made the difference, and was indecisive for much of the contest. Ronan O'Gara could replace him next week. 6

Mike Phillips The Welshman was aggressive and a thorn in the Springboks' side. He scored one try and he was talismanic in the final quarter. 8

Gethin Jenkins Coped with Springboks' skipper John Smit in the scrums, and strong around the field. 7

Lee Mears Lacks the physical presence of some hookers in world rugby, but still has a tireless work-rate. His lineouts were poor though, which meant Matfield won the ball with ease and his first lineout loss eventually led to the Springboks' first try. 5

Phil Vickery: The former England captain was destroyed by Tendai Mtawarira at the scrum and was substituted after 45 minutes. He may have played his last Lions Test after his replacement Adam Jones looked considerably more competitive. 4

Alun-Wyn Jones Competed well with Bakkies Botha in the lineouts, and a consistent contributor elsewhere. 7

Paul O'Connell: The Lions skipper was quiet in the first hour and his body language around the field was not great. He then stepped up his performance towards the end and was key in the Lions late surge. 6

Tom Croft: Scored two tries on his Lions Test debut. He performed well on the big stage and took both his chances well. 7

David Wallace: Had his moments at the critical breakdown which has been an area of concern for the Lions all tour. But he struggled in the scrum. 6

Jamie Heaslip Finished the game strongly, but was not there in the key moments for the Lions in the first half. 6

South Africa

South Africa's Ruan Pienaar takes a penalty at Kings Park in Durban, South Africa v British & Irish Lions, first Test, June 20, 2009
Ruan Pienaar's kicking kept the Lions at bay © Getty Images

Francois Steyn - The Springbok fullback had been noted by some as a weak link but his siege-gun boot and physicality gave the hosts a solid foundation . 7

JP Pietersen - A quiet afternoon for the Sharks man, who didn't see a great deal of ball as his forwards dominated their gameplan. 6

Adi Jacobs - A quiet presence in midfield, Jacobs struggled to impose himself and looked out of place when shifted to No.12 in the second-half. 5

Jean de Villiers - A looming, dangerous presence de Villiers saved a try with a superb intervention and looked alive as ever on the intercept. 7

Bryan Habana - The Bulls man will be looking for more service in front of his home fans at Loftus Versfeld next weekend, his game memorable only for a couple of feisty exchanges with Matthew Rees and Tommy Bowe . 6

Ruan Pienaar - Another supposed "weak link", Pienaar slotted straight back in to action after an injury layoff and was a nerveless, tactically astute presence all afternoon, with his accurate boot punishing the Lions. 8

Fourie du Preez - The best in the business at the moment, with his quick delivery and tactical awareness frustrating the Lions. Quick work for the Springboks' opening try. 8

Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira - Will be popping up in Phil Vickery's nightmares all week, as dominant a performance as you'll see from the Sharks prop. 9

Bismarck du Plessis - An aggressive, nasty presence, du Plessis looked strong throughout. The lineout functioned well and he put in some meaningful hits in the loose. 7

John Smit - Scored the opening try and held up well in the set piece. His leadership was missed in the closing stages and there was no surprise when he re-appeared following an injury to Deon Carstens. 7

Bakkies Botha - His usual destructive self, he worked well in the lineout and relished the newly returned maul. 7

Victor Matfield - Imperious in the lineout, he must have looked 20 feet tall to Lee Mears as the Lions hooker struggled with his throwing. 8

Heinrich Brussow - Compact and highly dangerous, the openside scored the second try and the Springboks looked infinitely less dangerous after he was removed. 7

Juan Smith - Tireless as always at ruck time, but the Springboks will be looking for more from him as a ball carrier next weekend. 6

Pierre Spies - A functional performance from the Springbok superman, who has little chance to showcase his speed in broken play. 6

© Scrum

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