warburton says lions’ job is only half-done
warburton says lions’
job is only half-done
Gatland happy to play role of clown after Lions level series
Lions clinch dramatic late victory after All Blacks’ Sonny Boy Williams is sent off to square series and set up tantalising decider at Eden Park on Saturday
Captain Sam Warburton said the British & Irish Lions’ victory over New Zealand in Wellington yesterday will count for nothing unless they win the Test series decider next week.
Owen Farrell’s 78th-minute penalty proved decisive as the Lions took advantage of Sonny Bill Williams’s first-half red card – the first All Black player to be sent off since 1967 – to claim a 24-21 victory in the second Test.
The tourists condemned New Zealand to their first home defeat since 2009, but Warburton downplayed their victory and immediately turned attention to the game at Eden Park next Saturday. “It is only half the job done,” the Welshman told Sky Sports.
“I will be happy next week when we bring the Test series home. It is one apiece now so effectively we have only played two halves.
“We have got to win the Test series. It is great that we got it to 1-1 and take it to Eden Park.
“There is still plenty to work on, we gave away way too many penalties in the second half.
“We are delighted to get a win, but we have got to remember it was against 14 men.
“We have got to up it next week to bring the Test series home.
Warburton was recalled to the starting line-up having been named among the replacements for last week’s 30-15 first Test defeat at Eden Park.
The Welsh flanker said the Lions will need to summon another huge collective effort when they return to Auckland on Saturday for the series decider.
“Credit to New Zealand, to play for so long with 14 men, they did extremely well,” he said.
“We just got to remember next week, we’re more likely to be playing 15. It’s going to be a big step up next week.”
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen refused to be drawn into whether Williams deserved a red card for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson in the 25th minute. “I’m not stunned. I have always said they are a very good side and we didn’t help ourselves by losing a player,” Hansen said.
“Whilst I am very proud of our team of how we hung in there with 14 men, you have got to take your hat off and say ‘well done’ to the Lions.
Hansen said the referee “made the call so whether he got it right or wrong is irrelevant.
“I have always said you have got to go with what he decides.
“Don’t make the issue about the tackle. The Lions deserved the win.
“I am happy for them but we are
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disappointed. I am very proud of our guys.”
New Zealand captain Kieran Read acknowledged his side failed to take their chances after letting a 19-12 lead slip in the final 20 minutes.
“The Lions were probably the better side,” he said.
“What an atmosphere. We had our chances. The fact that we got in front and couldn’t keep that lead probably showed that we let them off the hook.”
Lions coach Warren Gatland, who was mocked as a clown in the New Zealand media earlier this week, was delighted to see his team level the series.
“I am a happy clown this week,” Gatland joked.
“It is great to tie the series up and we go to Auckland with everything to play for.
“Even with the red card, we were the better team, deserved to win and played some good rugby.”
Gatland knows the Lions have plenty to work on to test the All Blacks again next week, especially after seeing them concede 13 penalties.
Beauden Barrett kicked seven of them, contributing all 21 of New Zealand’s points, but second-half tries from Toby Faletau and Conor Murray proved crucial for the Lions.
“We gave away some soft penalties which is disappointing and something we need to fix for next week,” Gatland added.
“It is a strange game, isn’t it? Normally with those sort of stats the All Blacks win by 20 or 30 points, so for us to be in the game ...
“I thought we scored a couple of lovely tries, which was nice, and some of the decision-making on the ball was excellent.
“Some of our kicking wasn’t the best tonight and gives us a lot to work on next week.”
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Updated: December 19, 2017 01:59 AM