British & Irish Lions 2013

Gatland: 'Relieved and happy'

Sat, 22 Jun 2013 15:07
Warren-gatland-lions-logo Aus-v-lions2 Warren-gatland-media-scrum Aus-v-lions3 Aus-v-lions
It shows how close this series is going to be
Quote-end

Warren Gatland was a "relieved and happy" man at the end of a breathtaking first Test between his British and Irish Lions side and the Wallabies in Brisbane.

The 'relief' came at seeing Kurtley Beale miss with his last gasp penalty that could have made it 24-23 to the Wallabies, rather than the final score of 23-21 to the Lions.

Having seen Wales fall four times in a row last year to the Wallabies in tight games, he thought it was going to happen again.

What made him 'happy' was the fact the Lions won the vital opening Test in the three-match series and set themselves on the road to becoming the first team since Martin Johnson's 1997 Lions to win a series.

"It just shows how close this series is going to be. We saw some great tries out there tonight. We're pretty happy, although it could have gone either way," said Gatland after the match.

"But we'll take that and I think we deserved to win. We'll work on our performance, but what matters is the result.

"In terms of key moments, I thought the goal-kicking of Leigh Halfpenny and, obviously, the George North try. And there was a fantastic one from Alex Cuthbert.

The scrum was a bit disappointing in the second half compared to the first half and we probably played a bit too much rugby in our own half in the first half. It was better in the second. It wasn't the greatest Test in the world but we've won the first Test and we're really happy with the result."

The team moves on to Melbourne on Monday to prepare for their final midweek fixture against the Rebels on Tuesday and then face the second Test at the same stadium at which they were beaten by a record 35-14 margin in the second Test 12 years ago.

Gatland knows that he is now one win away from emulating Carwyn James (1971), Syd Millar (1974 and Sir Ian McGeechan (1989, 1997) in becoming a series winning Lions coach and firmly believes both teams will get better by next week.

"There's a great team spirit at the moment. The guys are working hard and selection has been tough. We're also getting back a few key players next week and that will strengthen our squad," he added.

"Australia are a dangerous team and they keep fighting all the way to the end. I think it's going to be a close series."

With thanks to lionsrugby.com

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