Best: 'We were beaten up'
Rory Best admits the B&I Lions let themselves down, after their unbeaten 2013 tour record slipped against the Brumbies on Tuesday.
Rory Best admits the British and Irish Lions let themselves down, after their unbeaten 2013 tour record slipped against the Brumbies on Tuesday.
Warren Gatland's men went into the Canberra clash on the back of five convincing victories, but they were caught cold against the Super Rugby pace-setters, who held on for a 14-12 win
Best was bitterly disappointed by the performance, but he insists the Lions cannot dwell on the defeat and must quickly refocus on Saturday's first Test against Australia.
"We got physically beaten at the breakdown and set pieces and the Brumbies were hungrier than us," the Lions captain, Best, said.
"We went in fresh, had a good team run and felt very confident, but we knew it would be tough.
"We just didn't turn up right from the off, they wanted it more and took their chances.
"We let our standards drop and it's up to the 15 and 23 picked on Saturday to reassert that.
"We didn't want to lose momentum, but we did that. We now have to face the heat, dust ourselves down and see where we are."
The Lions handed debuts to three emergency recruits in Billy Twelvetrees, Brad Barritt and Christian Wade, while Welsh legend Shane Williams made a one-off start after answering another injury SOS.
But Best is adamant that the unfamiliarity and in some cases a lack of preparation was not an excuse. And he cited the breakdown and malfunctioning set-piece as the cause of the defeat.
"We won't look for excuses, we brought in quality players, we had a quality team and just got beaten up at the breakdown.
"We definitely got nervy and simple little units miss-fired. At this level if you can't secure ball you will always be under pressure.
"As forwards we will stand up and take a lot of the heat, and deservedly so.
"But credit to the Brumbies they were hungrier than us right across the board."
Coach Warren Gatland blamed a below-par first-half performance for the B&I Lions' first defeat.
"It's disappointing, but in fairness to the Brumbies they played well and put us under pressure at the breakdown," said Gatland.
"We came here on the right track, momentum was good but we have taken a step back after a really good performance last Saturday.
"The first-half performance was not good enough and we got what we deserved.
"The breakdown was disappointing and there was inaccuracy at securing ball at the line-out.
"We had that debate whether to let them work their way through it or make changes and we had to think about Saturday as well.
"We made some changes and gave them a rocket at half-time and I thought we were much better.
"We talked about being smarter and playing a bit more territory. It was a tight game, there was a lot of kicking and not a lot of opportunities.
"It was a tough decision to make but the guys on the bench got us back in the game and gave us a chance.
"The intensity in the first was disappointing and it was better in the second-half but it just wasn't enough."
The line-out was a cause for concern in the first half at Canberra Stadium with Brumbies pinching numerous line-outs and several being overthrown or not straight.
But Gatland is adamant the inaccuracy at the set-piece can be put right as the Lions target a first Test series victory since 1997.
"It's one of those things. Sometimes that happens but it put us under pressure with some not straight and a couple of overthrows," said the Lions head coach.
"It' something we have to work on in the next few days."
And he insists Sam Warburton's Pride of Lions must pick themselves up and turn their attention to the first Test against Australia at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
"We have to take it on the chin and start to focus on Saturday," added Gatland.
"We had a few new guys in and unfortunately it was a disappointing performance but the focus has to move to Saturday."
With thanks to lionsrugby.com