Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Escape to Victory ; Lucky Lions Must Learn from Their First Test Success to Clinch Series Win over the Aussies

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Escape to Victory ; Lucky Lions Must Learn from Their First Test Success to Clinch Series Win over the Aussies

Article excerpt

FORGET all the diplomatic language. Look beyond the smoke and mirrors. For today, with the dust settled on what was truly one of the great Test matches, British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will know that his side didn't just dodge one bullet in clawing their way to a nerveshredding 23-21 win in Saturday's first Test against Australia - they dodged a whole magazine.

Sure, in rugby as in every sport, the result is all that matters, but the burly Kiwi is too wise an operator to allow the scoreline to cloud his judgment.

Against a bruised and battered Wallabies, who in the course of a Brisbane classic lost three key personnel, the Lions should have mauled the hosts to death.

Instead, it took a cruel slip by inspired replacement Kurtley Beale as he took a decisive last minute penalty, to secure the narrowest of wins.

Now, with just five days to go until this weekend's defining second Test in Melbourne, Gatland and his coaching coterie must truly earn their corn if they are to oversee another win - and with it, the Lions first series triumph in 16 long years.

Here M.E.N. Sport delves inside Gatland's mind and examine five key areas that the Lions must address if they are carve their names into history.

PLAY THE REF AS WELL AS THE GAME Gatland could barely disguise his irritation at the schizophrenic display of Kiwi referee Chris Pollock.

His frustration was shared by his players with both skipper Sam Warburton and old stager Brian O'Driscoll, who engaged in plenty of chit-chat with Pollock over his interpretation of the breakdown, the scrum, the maul and, no doubt, the Brisbane weather. Having been pinged at will, the Lions were fortunate that the Wallabies kicking radar was so askew.

Things won't be any easier this weekend with South African Craig Joubert calling the shots, but if they are to prosper the Lions need to play smart and not incur the wrath of Joubert. In short, don't get mad, get even.

BEEF UP THE BENCH Rugby isn't just a 15-man game any more.

Its as much about your strength in reserve as the infantry and in replacement Beale, Australia arguably had the man of the match on Saturday - even though he only came on for the second half. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.