Gatland displeased as Lions almost blow test

TOBY DAVIS
Last updated 02:32 23/06/2013
Lions celebrate
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Injured captain Sam Warburton holds the series trophy after victory at ANZ Stadium.

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British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland said their thrilling victory over Australia on Saturday was tinged with disappointment after they struggled to close out the match against an injury-hit Wallabies team.

The Lions led by eight points in the second half but conceded two soft penalties to allow the hosts back into the game and they were forced to cling on in the dying stages for a 23-21 win.

Australia's Kurtley Beale missed two kickable penalties in the final 10 minutes, the second one with the last kick of the match.

"The first half we scrummaged well, the line-out was good but we're disappointed with our game management," Gatland told Sky Sports.

"We gave them a couple of soft three pointers, but it shows how close this series is going to be. We saw some great tries out there by both sides. Could have gone either way but we'll take that."

Veteran centre Brian O'Driscoll said there were mixed emotions after the tourists took a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.

"(It was) Strange," he said. "Hearts in the mouth at the end, we probably should have lost it.

"We conceded those two penalties at the end but we didn't deserve to. We didn't get much luck - a couple of deflected kicks that went askew seemed to bounce in their arms - so maybe we got our break at the end."

Australia coach Robbie Deans was delighted by his side's character after they lost four key backs to injury during the match.

"It's a start for us, but just a start," he said. "We showed a lot character and a lot of strength but it was not to be. It was never going to be straightforward was it? But the boys produced enough to get a result.

"So now we go back to the drawing board and look at the state of the bodies and then go again next week. We will need more time in possession with the ball and we need to do more with it and have to show we can be more effective."

Australia winger Israel Folau marked a brilliant debut with two first-half tries that left his captain James Horwill purring.

"He's a freak of a talent. He's got that X-factor - when he gets his hands on the ball things can happen," Horwill said.

"Obviously next week is must-win and we'll be approaching it in that way. We're very disappointed. We were right in it, a couple of little errors, indiscipline from our end, gave them a leg up."

The Lions face the Melbourne Rebels on Tuesday before the second test in the same city on Saturday.

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- Reuters

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