The Lions coach is ready for Boks backlash in second Test
Warren Gatland: “Next week will be even tougher”
His British & Irish Lions beat the Springboks in the first Test in Cape Town, but he knows the world champions will come back stronger next Saturday.
The Boks were the better team in the first half but the Lions recovered from being 12-3 down at the break to win 22-17, repelling a final surge from the hosts to close out an important victory.
Yet this is only the first of three Tests and Gatland knows the Lions will need to be better next week if they are to win a first series on South African soil since 1997.
The Lions 2021 head coach said of the Boks: “They will be hurt from this. They’re an incredibly proud nation, they’re world champions, so next week will be even bigger and tougher.
“We expect them to be a lot stronger in the next two matches. They’ll be pleased with the way they started and not so happy with the second-half performance. They’ll be like us, looking to work and improve on things for next week.”
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber bemoaned his side’s second-half ill-discipline, but believes the Boks can come back to win the series.
He said: “We were nine points up, so things were working for us – we were playing in the right areas.
“Our half-time talk was to step up at the breakdown and then our discipline fell away. We started to make mistakes, especially at maul time. We did not make the step up needed when required.
“We can certainly salvage this. A proper review is needed, but we can sort it out, no doubt. It worked in the first half, and I believe what happened in the second half is fixable.”
Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones was pleased with the win but recognises the team are only part of the way to achieving their goal of winning the Test series.
“You want to win every game, whether domestic, international or Lions,” said Jones. “We know what we’ve achieved but we also know what we haven’t achieved.
“Knowing the calibre of player and attitude the opposition have, we have to be better again and deal with what comes next week.
“There were smiles after the game. Moments like these you have to enjoy them as they don’t come around very often. But we’re only a third done.”
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