ibusinesslines.com June 27, 2017

Attack comes next for Lions: Gatland

20 June 2017, 09:44 | Charlene Valdez

Taulupe Faletau claims a high ball for the Lions

Taulupe Faletau claims a high ball for the Lions

More than once, they combined to carve open their hosts and their tactical kicking was spot on.

A 12-3 scoreline may look like a scrappy escape for a warm-up match, but taken on its merits it's a win which will give huge confidence to Warren Gatland's side. Conor Murray was outstanding.

The better team won and did so convincingly.

"We can be pleased with our defence but we probably have to be a bit more clinical with some of those line breaks, particularly when we get in the 22", he said.

What there isn't in the group though is a defensive leader.

Owen Farrell capped an inside-back masterclass with all the tourists' points as the Lions announced their true arrival in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The Glasgow star collided with Murray as the Ireland scrum-half attempted to move out of Hogg's way - and head coach Warren Gatland admitted the full-back will now be sent to a specialist to determine the extent of the damage to his cheek.

After Saturday night, the scrum will be an area of great contention for the rest of the tour with the set piece a core staple of the Lions' game.

Henry defended the Lions' performances so far, saying that their lack of game time together is a major factor. "The Crusaders went to the corner and the driving lineout for three of them".

"We worked hard on our defense, on getting off the line and putting them under some pressure", he said.

That penalty count helped the Lions dominate possession and territory and left the Crusaders without a reliable platform.

"At this stage of the tour everyone has had a start and as coaches we are happy that all the players have had a chance to put their hand up and perform in the Lions jersey", Gatland told reporters after announcing his squad on Sunday.

The Europeans play a different game than we do down here.

Both players were forced off in the first half and failed their head injury assessments meaning they will not be considered for Tuesday's game against the Highlanders at least. That is what Eddie Jones has done with England, recognised the natural strengths of the game there and brought them to bear.

Nowell will be looking to improve on what was a disappointing display against the Blues and he has shown how unsafe he can be for the Chiefs, and if Joseph and Henshaw can find space in the middle of the park - perhaps running off Stander's shoulder - they should test the Highlanders in defence too. That's why I find it so fascinating.

What a difference a win makes.

We are creating opportunities we just need to finish off those chances. I thought the most pleasing thing was keeping them down to three points, our discipline was better, but the main thing for us was that we got stronger throughout the game. Farrell would have been one of them with an assured showing. So Super Rugby sides tend to scrummage illegally, if that's the case. We enjoyed Saturday and the feeling I get at this moment in time, and what I would feel if I was playing or sat in the stand watching, is one of excitement that I want to get out there and build on it.

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