Belfast Telegraph

'We shot ourselves in the foot' says Lions coach Warren Gatland

Lions coach and captain react to the second defeat of the Tour to New Zealand

By Gareth Hanna

The British and Irish Lions players are 'learning' according to coach Warren Gatland after their single point defeat to Highlanders.

Saturday's 12-3 success over Crusaders had put the pressure on a changed line-up to perform as the battle for test starts heats up.

Although Ulsterman Iain Henderson put in a big performance in Dunedin, his team couldn't get over the line, despite leading by nine points with just over 20 minutes remaining.

"The thing you learn about playing New Zealand teams is they play for 80 minutes," Gatland told Talksport after the 23-22 loss.

"It was a step backwards from all the good stuff that was done on Saturday. We've shot ourselves in the foot a bit.

"The penalty count was a bit heavy and we need to address that. We spoke about staying alive and nailing big moments. There are one or two moments we need to improve on because that's going to be the difference between winning and losing a Test match."

A 74 minute penalty turned the scores in the Highlanders' favour but there was still time for Elliot Daly to come within inches of snatching the win with a 55 metre penalty.

"The players are learning that it is about playing for 80 minutes and being in the moment. We always said that coming to New Zealand was going to be tough against the Super Rugby sides. They are the best rugby nation in the world," Gatland told Sky Sports.

Meanwhile, skipper Sam Warburton, who is under pressure for his space in the Test line-up from Irishman Sean O'Brien, was already casting his eyes towards this weekend's game.

"We scored a couple of tries, we looked good when we were direct. We are looking forward to the challenge of the New Zealand Maori on Saturday," he said on Sky Sports.

 "For one reason or another the penalties got up into double figures. It was a game where it was going to be thrown around a bit more, but our first and second arrivals on the breakdown were a little late."

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