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24 Jun 2009 09:08
While disappointed not to have claimed a victory in their final tour midweek game against the Emerging Springboks, the British and Irish Lions were happy not to have lost a “kicking game in a monsoon”.
Bok replacement Willem de Waal kicked a last-second conversion to a Danwel Demas try to seal a 13-13 draw with a largely second-string Lions in freezing, wind-swept and rainy conditions at Newlands on Tuesday.
“It was a potential banana skin we got through,” said Lions head coach Ian McGeechan. “We were disappointed with the try at the end, but the conditions were always going to be a leveller.
“It’s a million miles from what we want to be playing on the weekend,” he added referring to the second Test against the Springboks proper in Pretoria.
In a match littered with knock-ons and dominated by kicking, often of poor quality, the Lions were well set to maintain their unbeaten midweek run and give themselves a boost ahead of the Pretoria game.
Few players put their hands up for inclusion in Saturday’s Test team, a factor not lost on McGeechan.
“I feel sorry for the players who wanted to play,” the Scot said.
“I’m disappointed from their point of view.
“It was actually a very strong defensive performance if you take the last minute away.
“But we always look and learn a bit.
“We know how we want to play [on Saturday]. A game between two Tests is quite difficult. It’s a big call on the players, it’s something they don’t have to do other than in a Lions shirt.”
Ronan O’Gara, made captain for the night but replaced after 44 minutes by James Hook in what was essentially a showdown for a spot in the squad of 22 on Saturday, said that although the Lions had dominated possession and territory, they were “not ruthless enough”.
“We needed to try to get one score further ahead. They didn’t look like crossing our line, but they caught us with the last play of the game so credit to them,” the Ireland flyhalf said.
“We didn’t kick on as we’d liked.
“We needed to push management for selection for this weekend but we didn’t get the chance because of the squall-like conditions,” lamented O’Gara.
Emerging Springboks coach Dick Muir, however, reckoned McGeechan would not rush into making mass personnel changes for the vital Loftus Versfeld showdown, especially after the Lions’ impressive last-quarter fightback in the first Test.
“I certainly imagine they’d make two or three changes,” he said. “But the Lions played really well last week, and it would be unfair to make too many.”
Muir added that Tuesday’s draw “could have stemmed that momentum” the Lions had drawn from their strong finish in the first Test.
“It felt like a win in the end,” he said of the game here. “It was a real game of two halves in conditions more suited to the Lions than us.”—AFP
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