Lions face almighty battle in series decider

Warren Gatland shakes hands with a Lions fan

Lions boss Gatland said Kiwi media mockery had “galvanised us as a group”

The Lions should expect a ferocious response from the All Blacks when they meet in the decisive third and final Test in Auckland next Saturday, says head coach Warren Gatland.

The tourists won 24-21 in Wellington on Saturday to level the series at 1-1.

“We know what New Zealand teams are like when they lose. We’re in for an almighty battle but we’ve got belief and confidence,” said Gatland.

“Hopefully there’s one hell of a Test match next week.”

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The Lions had to come from 18-9 down in the second half with tries from Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray before Owen Farrell’s late penalty gave them victory.

They had a man advantage for most of the game following the first-half dismissal of New Zealand inside centre Sonny Bill Williams.

The 31-year-old – whose disciplinary hearing will take place on Sunday – was sent off after his shoulder thumped into Anthony Watson’s head in a tackle.

After a sub-par performance in the 30-15 first-Test defeat, Gatland said he was pleased “that we stepped up physically” in Wellington, but admitted: “The red card is significant. It’s a significant loss of a key person for the All Blacks and we’re aware of that.

“We’ve kept the All Blacks try-less, I don’t know the last time that happened; they haven’t really stressed us that much in attack.”


All Blacks coach Steve Hansen saw his side kept try-less by the Lions on Saturday

Gatland shrugs off Kiwi media jibes

The New Zealand Herald caricatured Gatland as a clown last week, part of what the Lions boss dubbed a “targeted campaign” against him.

But after Saturday’s win he was keen to suggest the mockery was a factor in the Lions’ togetherness.

“Whoever has been doing that, they have no idea how much that’s galvanised us as a group,” said New Zealander Gatland.

“The amount of support from Kiwis, ex-All Blacks contacting me to say that they think the personal stuff was over the top, it’s been a lot.

“It’s not working because it’s actually been great for us. So whoever’s been doing that, please continue.”

‘No point whining about Williams red’


The red-carded Sonny Bill Williams cut a dejected figure following the All Blacks’ defeat

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen said the world champions had no complaints about Williams’ red card and will accept any further punishment that comes his way.

Having both failed to use his arms in the tackle, and made contact with the head of an opponent, he is likely to face a minimum ban of six weeks if found guilty at the disciplinary hearing.

Hansen said: “If the ref says it’s a red card, you don’t have any say in it. It will now go to a process and will be dealt with accordingly, and we will accept whatever happens.

“It was one of those ones that could have been a yellow or a red, he chose it to be a red. You have to live with that. There is no point whining about it.

“Sonny didn’t use his arms, so he put himself at risk and unfortunately connected with young Anthony’s head and put him at risk. You don’t want that, the referee deemed it a red card, so off you go boy.”

Hansen added that the loss of Williams had a significant effect on his team’s performance.

“The impact is pretty obvious,” he said. “You can’t say our attack was poor because we didn’t have the opportunity to do what we wanted to do because we were a man down.”

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