The British and Irish Lions could have suffered their first defeat of the 2021 tour, however head coach Warren Gatland says his gamers are in “bullish” temper.
The New Zealander claims his crew is “assured that we are able to deal with no matter they throw at us going ahead”.
However is it a false confidence? Or can the Lions actually take some hope from defeat? Here’s a take a look at what we discovered from the Take a look at gown rehearsal.
South Africa are nonetheless world champions
A lot has been mentioned about the truth that South Africa have solely performed one Take a look at – towards Georgia on 2 July – since profitable the World Cup in November 2019.
There have been additionally questions over how the crew would cope after greater than 20 optimistic Covid-19 circumstances in camp, with captain Siya Kolisi nonetheless isolating, and the entire squad having not too long ago spent six days confined to their resort rooms.
However the so-called A crew – which included seven of the aspect that began the World Cup closing – had been precisely as any Springbok outfit is anticipated to be.
South Africa stifled the Lions with their physicality, crowding the guests with a fierce defence.
It took sheer brute drive from Wyn Jones to get the Lions over for his or her solely attempt – and the prop took a shoulder knock within the course of.
Lions captain Conor Murray felt they handled the problem in the long run, saying: “We knew the kind of defence the Boks had been going to convey tonight.
“It is one factor saying it but it surely’s totally different coping with it in stay conditions. We discovered on the run this night and we fastened it on the market.”
Watson and Curry are neck and neck within the Take a look at race
There may be now only one warm-up recreation left earlier than the primary Take a look at on 24 July and Tom Curry greater than took his alternative to assert the seven jersey.
He faces stiff competitors in Scotland’s Hamish Watson, who impressed within the opening video games.
Curry made a team-high 11 tackles towards South Africa A, in addition to eight carries and a turnover, leaving Gatland in a difficult place.
“Tom Curry was nice tonight however there isn’t any doubt Hamish Watson has had an ideal tour as nicely,” the pinnacle coach mentioned.
“That’s going to be a tricky choice name.”
Gatland went on to say there can be “so much” of adverse choice selections, naming the again three and entrance row as significantly aggressive areas.
He added that even returning captain Alun Wyn Jones’ place within the beginning XV was not a formality, some extent emphasised by Maro Itoje’s warrior-like efficiency within the second row.
Don’t kick to Kolbe
It’s a lesson many have already discovered, however Elliot Daly momentarily forgot.
The England again, who has impressed at centre on the tour thus far, despatched a kick Cheslin Kolbe’s method and the World Cup star gleefully took benefit.
The wing slipped via the tightest of gaps between Chris Harris and Louis Rees-Zammit and fed the ball to captain Lukhanyo Am for a attempt.
Gatland mentioned “on reflection” he would have most popular a box-kick, including: “There are some things we have to brush up on by way of inaccuracy”.
Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus mentioned South Africa will play one other warm-up match towards Bulls on Saturday. Hopefully the provincial aspect will study from the Lions’ errors.
The Lions’ bench brings the warmth
Though South Africa A had a formidable beginning line-up, the Lions had the higher hand on the bench the place Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola and Zander Fagerson shaped a entrance row that may make most Take a look at groups tremble.
Gatland started to make use of his substitute forwards after half-time and, though they might not shut the hole, the Lions managed to maintain the Springboks scoreless for the second 40.
“Within the recreation in the meanwhile having guys come off the bench and make a distinction is extremely vital,” Gatland mentioned.
“Gamers who can come off the bench and offer you vitality, expertise and the flexibility to have the ability to change a recreation.”
Gatland is not going to be a water boy
With Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber isolating, Erasmus took cost of the aspect dressed as a water boy on the touchline.
It was an strategy Gatland described as “a little bit bit attention-grabbing”, earlier than affirming that he wouldn’t be becoming a member of Erasmus within the thick of the motion.
“You will not see me doing that,” he mentioned.
“Totally different strokes for various people. It is a bit unusual the director of rugby of South Africa additionally being a waterboy.”
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