Lions 'not getting carried away'

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 12:29
Large warren gatland lions smiling hand shake 800

LIONS TOUR REACTION: The British and Irish Lions tempered celebrations after they snatched a late 24-21 victory over the All Blacks on Saturday, saying the shock dismissal of Sonny Bill Williams had a significant bearing on the game.

After the All Blacks took the first Test 30-15, the Lions' win in Wellington ensured the series will go down to what their captain Sam Warburton called "an epic finale" in the third and final Test in Auckland next weekend.

The historic victory inflicted the first home loss on the All Blacks in 48 games dating back eight years, and gave the Lions a chance to win a series in New Zealand for only the second time in more than 100 years of trying. 

Although the Lions took a lot of confidence from the win, coach Warren Gatland saw plenty to work on and believed the All Blacks suffered after Williams was sent off after only 25 minutes for a shoulder charge on Anthony Watson.

"It's a win for us, it keeps the series live, but obviously Sonny Bill Williams' red card and the significant number of penalties we gave away, I'm not getting too carried away with it," Gatland said.

The Lions scored the only two tries of the match to Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray, with the remainder of their points coming from a conversion and four penalties by Owen Farrell - including the match-winning kick with only three minutes remaining. 

The All Blacks' points came from seven penalties by flyhalf Beauden Barrett, who also missed another three shots at goal.

"We know we're going to be in for a mighty battle in Eden Park next week but we'll come out of tonight with some belief and some confidence we kept the All Blacks tryless.

"We took a huge amount of confidence in terms of how we stepped up physically - which was a challenge, scored a couple of nice tries and obviously the red card was significant to the All Blacks," he added.

Gatland also said the loss of Williams also allowed the experimental partnership of Johnny Sexton and Farrell to develop at flyhalf and inside centre, although he was disappointed with some of the tactical kicking on a wet and windy night. 

The Lions now head to the New Zealand adventure capital of Queenstown for four days to recover but Warburton insisted the focus will remain on the final Test. 

"It will be nice to have a few days to recover but I'm really looking forward [to arriving in Auckland] Wednesday. I just want to get the job done. The one thing I'm really pleased about is the mental strength of the boys.

"I'll be honest, nobody gave us a chance. Nobody gave us a chance, and as long as the mental capacity of the lads within our group, players, management, staff, we all rub off on each other positively and believe we can beat these boys and we genuinely do," Warburton said.

Agence France-Presse

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