Rugby-Gatland wants better start from Lions in second test

  • Rugby
  • Wednesday, 28 Jul 2021

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Tour match - Lions v British and Irish Lions - Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa - July 3, 2021 British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland before the match REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Coach Warren Gatland wants his British & Irish Lions team to start better in Saturday’s second test against South Africa, as he expects a desperate reaction from the home team after the tourists won last weekend’s first test

The Lions fought back from 12-3 down at half-time to win 22-17 in an attritional contest at the Cape Town Stadium, overcoming conceding four early penalties to go on and outplay their hosts.

“We gave away a number of penalties in that first half but in the second half we were much more disciplined. We were pleased with our control of the game,” Gatland told a news conference on Tuesday.

“We probably, at times, put ourselves under a bit of pressure by shifting the ball on occasions, getting caught behind the gain line and allowing them to get some breakdown turnovers. We’ve just got to be really smart in terms of game management but I thought we were outstanding in that second half.”

The Lions will make sure of success in the three-test series if they emerge victorious on Saturday, while South Africa will be looking to level matters.

“They are going to be desperate, aren’t they? I’ve spoken to the players about that," added Gatland.

"We’ve got to make sure we are mentally right. We must make the most of the opportunity we have created by winning the first test and hopefully settle a series victory on Saturday. They are going to be incredibly aggressive and it’s about staying in that arm wrestle,” he said about the expected Springbok approach.

It was better control of the opening stages, added Gatland, that informed the three changes he made with scrumhalf Conor Murray back, Mako Vunipola strengthening the scrum and Chris Harris adding a bit more bite in the midfield.

(Editing by Mark Potter)

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