Jones rolls up sleeves ahead

Stephen Jones has called for "honesty and hard work" from his fellow British & Irish Lions as they seek to put right this weeks the things that cost them the chance of glory in the first Test in Durban [more]

Jones rolls up sleeves ahead

Stephen Jones has called for "honesty and hard work" from his fellow British & Irish Lions as they seek to put right this weeks the things that cost them the chance of glory in the first Test in Durban

The 26-21 defeat in the opening Test of the three match series has left Jones and co with a mountain to climb in Pretoria this weekend and they seek to keep alive their hopes of repeating the success of the 1997 Lions.

But the Scarlets and Wales outside half, who is still searching for his first Lions test win after four appearances, believes his side can turn things around at Loftus Versfeld.

“It’s obviously a huge disappointment to have lost the first Test, but we left ourselves a huge mountain to climb going into the last quarter,” admitted Jones.

“But we created a few opportunities and, had we been more clinical, things might have been different – we didn’t take the chances until the last quarter. I thought the centres played particularly well, created a lot of problems, and our patterns worked.

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“Our fitness levels were also good and these are the areas that we can look to take into the next game. There are others, though, that we need to address as well.

”I thought we grew into the game as it progressed and we managed to get the ball through our hands a bit quicker. We became more efficient in the contact area and we created more problems.”

The Lions had gone into the first Test on the back of a six-game winning run that meant confidence in the camp was high, but after a blistering early start by the Boks, Jones knew his side would be in for a tough afternoon.

He said: "They started very well and got a lot of points on the board early and that made life difficult for us and silenced the crowd and we didn’t get much momentum then."

The Boks took a 19-7 lead into the break and reinforced their superiority with a try from Heinrich Brussow, converted by Ruan Pienaar. It was then that South Africa coach Pieter de Villiers made a raft of substitutions and the match took a different tack in the second period. Tom Croft scored his second try of the match after 68 minutes and Mike Mike Phillips breached the whitewash with just four minutes to plat. Jones converted both and It lead to a nail-biting finale that oh so nearly ended in a victory for the tourists.

And Jones reflected on the performance, saying: "I was happy with the way that we were playing in the second half, the speed of the ball was good, we were playing with a lot of width in our game and I thought we were causing a lot of problems but it took us to get into the second half to go in 100% and we left ourselves too big a challenge.

“We showed character and belief and when we do implement the game plan it works and that is our big challenge that we need to play not just for sections of the game but the whole eighty.

“We are lucky, if this was a World Cup final that would be it, the tournament would be over but we are fortunate that we have another opportunity this Saturday to get level in the series. We take a lot of heart from the fact that when we play, we can play some good rugby and cause problems and that is how we have to go into this game.

“But we have to be honest with ourselves, work hard this week, address areas where we are not so clever at the moment.

“We are all in the same boat (backs and forwards), the backs have to look at areas of our game where we need to be more clinical and areas that we need to address, yes from a positive we are creating the opportunities but we need to finish them off."

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