Gatland: I hope we didn't disappoint our critics

Solenn Plantier
Juin 19, 2017

The British and Irish Lions ignited their tour of New Zealand by ruthlessly ruining the Crusaders' ideal season with a potentially-priceless 12-3 victory. These Lions are no pussycats.

On the back of the weekend victory over the Crusaders, a buoyed Lions have changed their entire starting line-up. Defending their own tryline on occasions as if the Test series depended upon it.

Rory Best knows that the Lions must learn quickly to become ruthless or their tour will begin to unravel.

"We are creating opportunities we just need to finish off those chances", Gatland, the former All Blacks hooker, added.

But Farrell also gave Gatland cause for thought by the way he slotted in elsewhere in the backline when the Lions lost Wales centre Jonathan Davies to a head knock in the first half.

The contrasting styles of rugby on offer during the Lions tour has been a constant theme. And that's been challenging. We've gone hard with the lads in contact, fitness, taking a lot out of the legs and with the travel, etc that would have had an impact on the first couple of games, but we're ready to get battle-hardened for a Test match.

"If you look at the numbers elsewhere in terms of every other area of the game (against the Crusaders), I thought we dominated in every other area - lineout, territory, possession, carries, line breaks".

"It's a good night and a good performance and something we can build on".

On Saturday, the tourists prevented the Crusaders, Super Rugby's leading side, from scoring a try, despite the hosts recording an average of 37 points per game this season.

Gatland believes his side are gathering momentum towards the first Test, but expects a "massive" confrontation with the Highlanders.

The Lions have to find players capable of punishing the All Blacks if their aggressive defence can pressurise New Zealand into kicking errors.

"Guys will feel a little rushed to show their cards and all their best form, but guys must remember there are still two more Tests and a midweek game to prove yourself after that". Apart from one misfired pass which potentially cost Jonathan Davies a try, Farrell's running game was damaging.

"I picked up the injury about 15 minutes into the first game", said Warburton."I was thinking, "oh no, this can't be happening". "We haven't seen a lot of turnovers so far".

Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, George Kruis and Taulupe Faletau are four men nearly certain to begin the Test opener with the All Blacks.

"I don't think it's a pressure situation, it's a group that needs to keep on building and the message to the boys this morning about Tuesday is we're building our plan, the things that we do behind the scenes as well as what we do on the pitch". We really got off the line [defensively], no matter where we were on the field. "We had a great feeling out there".

The Lions face the Maori All Blacks on Saturday and the Chiefs three days later before the first Test against the world champions on 24 June.

Sadly it was another forgettable evening for Stuart Hogg who was injured by his own room-mate Murray in a freaky accident.

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