wnol.info June 21 2018

Gatland praises defence as Lions down Crusaders

June 21 2018, 12:37 | Van Peters

GETTYStuart Hogg was forced off after only 20 minutes

British and Irish Lion Stuart Hogg

Their defence and game management were both notably better than in their two previous tour matches.

"I thought they were outstanding at training".

Overall, the 2017 Lions impressed me on Saturday and are really up and running now. I have been hammered by the New Zealand media as well so it has been a targeted campaign against me personally.

Gatland believes the Lions can now push their tour onto new levels after securing a hugely-important and morale-boosting victory.

Farrell also gelled well with Johnny Sexton after Jonathan Davies went off injured, but basic handling errors must be ironed out before the first test match on 24 June.

Farrell still kept some of the duties of first receiver, sharing those with Sexton and giving Gatland a preview of another possible test backline alignment - with the Irish pair of Murray and Sexton maintaining their established combination and Farrell taking a role in midfield.

But after downing the previously unbeaten Crusaders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch thanks to four Owen Farrell penalties, Gatland says his team are back with a bang.

"You look at the amount of All Blacks they have and it's a tough test", said Davies.

"We'll look at the positives as well as the stuff we can work on but obviously these are a quality side, they're not going to give tries away so it was good".

"And they'll just go through the protocols".

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"That was the real Lions out there; we've worked hard for each other and we've got the rewards", said Faletau.

"For that to happen, he's caught Conor Murray's elbow, that was a bit unlucky in that situation".

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"So we'll hope he can be back for the Maori game next week". We spoke about the more time we get together, the better we'll get.

But a victory born of a huge defensive effort and the nearly unerring boot of Farrell - the one kick he missed looked from TV pictures to have gone over - will give them a major boost as they head to Dunedin to face the Otago Highlanders on Tuesday. A late convert to the oval ball game, he has worked at the past three Rugby World Cups and considers himself a neutral - of sorts. It's been challenging to all of us.

But the Crusaders' match 23 contains only nine All Blacks, among them locks Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano, frontrowers Owen Franks, Codie Taylor and Joe Moody and fullback Israel Dagg.

"They will be the fourth set of three brothers to play for the All Blacks following the Brownlie and Nicholls brothers in the 1920s and the Whitelocks in recent years", says Stuff.co.nz.

The Lions celebrated the mini-win just the way hooker George vowed they would keep doing, ahead of the clash.

Blues winger Rieko Ioane, who has played two tests, and prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi, have been selected after a strong Super Rugby season and in a sign Hansen has based his selection as much on form as experience.

The tourists also upped their intensity on defence, shutting down the Crusaders attacking options with their fast line speed and forcing them into mistakes.

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