Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Gatland hails Lions spirit

22nd June 2013 15:34


Warren Gatland June 2013

Onwards: Warren Gatland

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland credited the spirit within his squad after their narrow 23-21 win over Australia.

Tries from George North and Alex Cuthbert sent the Lions 1-0 up in the Test series, with Leigh Halfpenny converting five from six kicks as Kurtley Beale's late missed penalties for Australia cost them the match.

Gatland was critical of his team's game management and the way their scrum dropped off in the second half, but was understandably happy with the victory ahead of the second Test in Melbourne next weekend.

"It was a tough game. The first half we scrummaged well and our line-out went well but I'm a bit disappointed in the game management," said Gatland.

"We've got in front and then given a couple of soft three-pointers to let them back in the game.

"It just shows how close this series is going to be. We saw some great tries out there tonight. We're pretty happy. It could have gone either way but we'll take that and we think we deserved to win. We'll work on our performance but what matters is the result.

"In terms of key moments, I thought the goal-kicking of Leigh Halfpenny. The George North try, obviously - and a fantastic one from Alex Cuthbert. The scrum was a bit disappointing in the second half compared to the first half.

"We probably played a bit too much rugby in our own half in the first half. It was better in the second. It wasn't the greatest Test in the world but we've won the first Test and we're really happy with the result.

"There's a great team spirit at the moment. The guys are working hard and selection has been tough. We're also getting back a few key players next week and that will strengthen our squad.

"They (Australia) are a dangerous team and they keep fighting all the way to the end. I think it's going to be a close series."