McGeechan delighted by Lions' patience and discipline

British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan praised his team’s patience and discipline after they converted a 7-3 halftime lead into a 39-3 rout of the Sharks on Wednesday.

“I’m very pleased, I thought our discipline and patience were very good, it was a very strong performance,” McGeechan told a news conference.

“We didn’t panic, we kept building the performance and we reaped the benefits in the second half. I’m happy with the way we are building our confidence and structure.

“The cumulative effort was important and we finished very strongly. The front five worked hard and we knew the rewards were always coming as long as we continued to do what we had been doing, and then take the opportunity when it came.
We saw that in the second half,” McGeechan said.

The Lions conceded 16 penalties, mostly at the breakdown and in the scrums, areas in which they were, however, clearly dominant.

McGeechan said they would consult with referees in a bid to iron out the problems before the first Test in Durban on June 20.

“We will keep talking to the referees, although I thought our breakdown work was excellent tonight [Wednesday] and we are getting progressively stronger in that area,” he said. “But we have to continue to adapt and it’s all about communication.

“In the scrums, we asked at halftime about the binding and pushing straight and we got a bit of clarity.”

Important indicator
For Lions captain Paul O’Connell, the match was an important indicator of the trust within the squad.

“If we did not trust each other, then it would have been very easy to get frustrated. We had a lot of territory and possession, and we stayed patient and relaxed.

“We have a very wise management team who have been involved in lots of tours and successful teams, and they know the pitfalls, they’re able to predict them and stay on top of them. But it’s also important for the players to buy into what they are doing as well,” O’Connell said.

Sharks captain Johann Muller, a member of South Africa’s World Cup-winning squad, said he expected the Lions to provide a stiff challenge for the Springboks.

“For me, the two outstanding features of this Lions team are their defence and their physicality at the breakdown,” he said.

“We only made one line break the whole game and if you leave any daylight between the ball-carrier and the players cleaning out at the breakdown, then they will turn the ball over,” Muller added.—Reuters

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