Ben Youngs and Richie Gray believe The British & Irish Lions will be all the better for Saturday’s hard-fought win over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.
Warren Gatland’s men battled to a 22-12 success at the Suncorp Stadium after they were given a far tougher test than they experienced in their opening two games against the Barbarians and the Western Force.
The Lions were outscored by two tries to one and weren’t allowed a minute’s respite from a Reds side intent on creating their own slice of history on home soil.
But Youngs, who pounced on a Reds error at the back of a five-metre scrum for his side’s 34th-minute score, is convinced the nature of the encounter will prove to be a blessing in disguise ahead of the three-match Test series with the Qantas Wallabies.
“We knew we would be under pressure at times and they chucked everything at us in the first 20,” said Youngs.
“We probably got into a bit of trouble and messed up little things but we know we'll get it right next time.
“Things have been highlighted to us from them running through our defence and we'll be able to work on that and make sure we get it right.
“The boys worked very, very hard and, because the Reds took it to us with quick lineouts and kept the ball alive, we always knew there could be tries. They put us under pressure a lot of the time, but we were happy in the end.
“The scrum was outstanding and we got what we deserved. They were tough conditions in the second half and the boys dug in and that's credit to the guys for working very hard in the forwards.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Scotland second row Gray who was making his second Lions start in comparison to Youngs who was making his first.
“In the first 20 minutes we maybe didn’t react to it as quickly as we should but after that we dug in and sorted things out and did well defensively from that point,” added Gray.
“The key mentions were to tighten things up. The conditions weren’t great so it was a matter of ball retention and putting pressure on them. I felt we did that for large periods of that second-half. Obviously, there was the breakaway try but I felt we played well.
“It’s another win, a tough win and a tough game for us. It was a great game because it gives us things to work on. It shows where we are and that’s what we need.”