Coaching staff not resting on their laurels after first up series win.
Coach Warren Gatland says he is mindful of what happened to the British and Irish Lions in their last series in Australia and he will be pressing to wrap up the series against the Wallabies in next weekend’s second Test in Melbourne.
The Lions are on the verge of completing their first series triumph in 16 years after surviving some late heart flutters in downing the Wallabies 23-21 in the first Test in Brisbane on Saturday.
Victory in Melbourne on Saturday will clinch the three-Test series ahead of the final game in Sydney on July 6.
But Gatland was reminded after Saturday’s win that the Lions won the corresponding first Test 29-13 on the 2001 tour only to lose the remaining two Tests and the series to John Eales’s Australians.
Kiwi Gatland believes his Lions team will be much improved for their first Test outing against the Wallabies and he expects to clinch the series in Melbourne.
“Each Lions team or series is different in its own right. We’re well aware of what happened in 2001,” Gatland said after the match.
“We could have lost tonight but it means no matter what happens you go to the last day you’re still in the series. And we’ve got an opportunity to wrap it up next week.
“We’ll be a lot better for that hit-out. Players will have a look at that in terms of trust in the systems.
“The line breaks that they’ve (Wallabies) made — one from a quick tap and a couple of guys just made a couple of errors.”
Gatland conceded that the Wallabies were quicker to the breakdown than his team and is confident with South African referee Craig Joubert in charge of the Melbourne Test that his side will get quality ball.
“It’s something we work on every day at training. They probably got a little bit quicker ball than us, but we felt that it’s because there was a few penalties against us. Players get a little bit edgy in terms of competing so hard at the breakdown when it gets like that,” he said.
Gatland cited experienced centre Brian O’Driscoll’s concern at contesting the breakdown after he was quickly penalised twice by New Zealand referee Chris Pollock in the first half.
“I’m sure we’ll have an opportunity next week with Joubert in charge to be able to get some ball on the front foot, some quality ball. And just being able to clear some of the defenders around the back of the ruck that are causing a bit of a nuisance,” he said.
Lions defence coach Andy Farrell said once the players trusted their defensive patterns in the second half they handled the Wallabies well.
“They only made three line breaks and they scored a couple of tries and we made seven line breaks, that shows the game in its entirety really. That’s one of the reasons why we won the game,” Farrell said.
“I thought the second half we defended pretty well when we trusted the systems, but you know that this Australian team is going to be a threat for the full 80 minutes, you can’t switch off for a second, two breakaway tries and a break from a kick chase.”
Hooker Tom Youngs admitted that the Lions has been “naive” at the breakdown and didn’t adjust to the referee’s interpretations.
“I think maybe we were a little bit naive at the breakdown time and we didn’t quite adjust to the referee’s decisions, how he was reffing it at times, but I thought ‘just get the Test match won’,” Youngs said.
“I’ll have to look at the video a bit more and work out why we were getting pinged.
“The decisions may have been a bit harsh here and there, but that’s just the way of the game. Referees all ref it differently and you just have to adjust on the hoof and get it right.”