Gatland responds to critics after Lions see off Crusaders

  • Gatland responds to critics after Lions see off Crusaders

Gatland responds to critics after Lions see off Crusaders

With these big guns in action the Lions looked more than competitive against the star-studded Crusaders - and in truth should have won by more.

But after two patchy performances the Lions lit the touch paper on a tour that now promises to explode into life.

The defensive stability against a side who have scored almost 500 points in 13 Super Rugby games will have pleased the coaching staff but Gatland was also forced to assess injuries to two probable Test starters.

While Saturday's skipper Alun Wyn Jones said that the Lions had "never fallen off the track", his coach admitted post-match that his group "needed that" win to give them confidence moving forward.

After taking their time to adjust to the referee's scrummaging rulings, the Crusaders finally got the edge they craved and shoved the Lions off the ball in the first half, resulting in a scuffle between the two charged-up packs. "But, hey, if that's the way it's going to go, we're just going to have to adjust".

The Saders" dealing with the "Washing machine' - Head coach Scott Robertson spoke of how Farrell turned his Crusaders team by putting the ball into the corner and how his side struggled to "go up and down and up and down". The full-back endured an error-strewn display in against the Provincial Barbarians, and he made the wrong decision this time not to pass out wide to Liam Williams with the overlap available.

The Crusaders will be tougher and will provide a meaure of the Lions' development in their third of six matches ahead of the first test.

Read's captaincy armband is likely to be worn by flanker Sam Cane or lock Sam Whitelock against the Samoans.

The Lions' game had more intensity than in earlier tour matches and the kicking out of hand improved, but they were again let down by basic handling errors and decision-making. You have to finish this team off in the first two games. He didn't look to suffer, but it's not an ideal situation, considering the calibre of opposition the Lions have faced and will face.

But the Lions shut their hosts down in a punishing performance that helped Warren Gatland silence numerous doubts surrounding the 2017 tour.

They scored 12 points, but the "BIL" blew plenty of other chances to add to their haul at AMI Stadium.

The first 30 minutes of the second half were scoreless until Farrell landed a fourth penalty with 10 minutes to play. "We really got off the line, no matter where we were on the field", Farrell said of his side's defensive effort.

I mentioned their D. The lions attack is way too one dimensional.

The Saracens man knew when his time came, he could not let the Lions down and sure enough the fly-half kicked them to victory.

Crusaders midfielder Jack Goodhue made a number of breaks, but the Lions handled everything the Crusaders threw at them.

Crusaders unbeaten all season...until today. Yet all they could muster against the Lions was a solitary penalty goal.

"We thought they were going to play that way and that's exactly how they did play".

The Wales global has not featured for the Lions since their opening tour game against New Zealand Provincial Barbarians due to an ankle injury.