Jack Conan of British is tackled by Timothy Lafaele


The British and Irish Lions beat Japan 28-10 in the warm-up for their South Africa tour on Saturday but the match was overshadowed by a shoulder injury for captain Alun Wyn Jones which has cost him a place on the tour.

The veteran Welsh lock was forced off after eight minutes supporting his left arm, seemingly in some distress and helped by a doctor.

The better news for coach Warren Gatland was that the Lions found their attacking groove early, albeit against some soft defending by a Japan team playing their first Test since the World Cup quarter-final defeat by South Africa in 2019.

15. Liam Williams

Stuart Hogg’s involvement in the Premiership final meant this was a big opportunity for Williams. The Lions’ narrow front-line defence kept their full-back on his toes and Williams was generally solid, making a fine lasso tackle that downed Kotaro Matsushima just before half-time and scampering across the back-field 7

14. Josh Adams

An excellent start for the tireless wing. Even before his try, he had bundled Siosaia Fifita into touch and won back a Conor Murray box-kick. He eked out metres around the fringes with a pick-and-go prior to his own finish – a tactic straight from the Wales’ 2019 Grand Slam campaign. Did clatter Ryohei Yamanaka without the ball, but is a superb defender 8

13. Robbie Henshaw

There are justifiably big expectations of Henshaw this summer and his defensive intelligence will be vital if he gets a shot against the Springboks. He won turnovers with a choke-tackle and an interception before his close-range try. He also foiled a number of sweeping attacks in the second half, but did concede a penalty for a high tackle 8

Robbie Henshaw makes his move


12. Bundee Aki

It was Ireland’s victory over England in March, and Aki’s synergy with Henshaw, that persuaded Gatland to bring the Connacht centre. His incisive carry prior to Adams’ try reminded us of Aki’s worth as a gainline weapon in his own right. He then muscled a trio of turnovers either side of half-time 8

11. Duhan van der Merwe

His blend of opportunism and power is seriously potent and it is a mark of the Scotland wing’s appetite for work that his try, from a snipe down a vacant blindside of a ruck, came all the way over on the right flank. Importantly, he appeared assured in defence – outside of one uncertain moment late on – and in the air 8

10. Dan Biggar

A quietly neat opening gave way to a string of expansive passes in the build-up to Van der Merwe’s try. He also punished Japan’s infringements by pinging sweet touch-finders, distributed crisply, defended robustly and landed all four conversions 8

9. Conor Murray

It was not a wholly convincing start to Murray’s third Lions tour. He ran down a blind alley in the sixth minute and had a box-kick charged down at the base of a ruck by Japan hooker Atsushi Sakate. Later, Matsushima stepped past him from a scrum. A few of Murray’s passes also went astray, although his tackling in the front line is a real asset that will help the Lions keep width in defence 5

1. Rory Sutherland

After some early timing issues conceded a scrum free-kick, the Lions looked predictably strong in the set-piece exchanges. Sutherland surrendered an avoidable breakdown penalty but was assured thereafter, especially in defence 6

2. Ken Owens

The hooker, who assumed the Lions captaincy after Alun Wyn Jones left the field, produced a typically bustling and accurate performance. His throwing at the lineout was tidy. A candidate as stand-in skipper if Jones does not recover. 7

3. Tadhg Furlong

The top tighthead prop in 2017, Furlong was due to be on the bench for this opener. Zander Fagerson’s back spasms nudged him up into the starting line-up and he grew into this contest, trundling through a couple of tackles and thumping Japan carriers 7

4. Iain Henderson

The leadership of Henderson, both as a lineout caller and in a wider context, could be a feature of the 2021 Lions. He seems to be an understated character, but is an articulate and considered talker who exudes calm on the pitch – not that Henderson shirks the tough stuff. His tackle count hit double figures and he picked up plenty of touches in the tight 7

5. Alun Wyn Jones

Forced to make way with just seven minutes on the clock after seeming to injure his shoulder while competing for the ball at the breakdown N/A

Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones is led from the field by medics


6. Tadhg Beirne

Arguably the best forward over the 2021 Six Nations, Beirne has a special talent for defensive disruption. That was not required so much at Murrayfield, but a burst through midfield for the Lions’ fourth try caught the eye before a booming left-footed spiral kick to complement some deft passing, offloads and a trademark jackal turnover. A try-saving tackle on Kazuki Himeno also spared a potentially nervy finish for the Lions 8

7. Justin Tipuric

Hamish Watson’s concussion had opened the door for Tipuric, but the Wales openside only lasted the first quarter before heading down the tunnel N/A

8. Jack Conan

Settled in by forcing a remarkable four turnovers in his first 20 minutes as a Lion. While his side were in possession, Conan migrated to the wide channels and looked threatening in an intriguing hint of things to come on tour. Went off late on, though 8


16. Jamie George (on for Owens, 55)

Conceded the breakdown penalty from which Japan launched their try-scoring attack. Just a week after finishing Saracens’ season, he appeared slightly weary as Japan found fluency 5

17. Wyn Jones (on for Sutherland, 52)

A success story of Wales’ Six Nations, Jones conceded a scrum penalty as the game winded down into the final 10 minutes. His breakdown scavenging, which earned a penalty, could be a factor in the coming weeks 6

18. Kyle Sinckler (on for Furlong, 52)

Initially overlooked by Warren Gatland, Sinckler replaced the unfortunate Andrew Porter in the Lions party and looked energetic from the bench, leading the defensive line and throwing a couple of trademark passes as well 6

19. Courtney Lawes (on for Alun Wyn Jones, 8)

Became a go-to lineout jumper after his early arrival and also nabbed one of Sakate’s throws on the cusp of half-time, adding characteristically tough tackling too. Knocked on over the try-line in the second half, which was a shame 7

Courtney Lawes crosses for a try only for it to be over turned by TMO


20. Taulupe Faletau (on for Tipuric, 22)

Joined the fray far earlier than he might have expected and spilled the ball under a heavy tackle from Sakate. Perhaps more suited to holding width, the role Conan played, he stayed in the centre of the field during an unfussy display 6

21. Ali Price (on for Murray, 62)

Ignited an encouraging counter with a fizzing pass to Anthony Watson before being brushed off by lively Tevita Tatafu 6

22. Owen Farrell (on for 55)

Despite Gatland insisting that the England captain had been picked as a fly-half, Farrell’s introduction came at inside centre in place of Aki. With the visitors keeping possession, his involvement was restricted to a handful of tackles and a couple of passes 6

23. Anthony Watson (on for Williams, 65)

Stretched his legs and flipped offloaded to Lawes with an early touch. Decidedly less slick in the final moment of the match, throwing a pass that sailed into touch past Van der Merwe 6