British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland is backing his side to bounce back when the three-match Test series with the Qantas Wallabies goes down to the wire next week.
Gatland’s men remain on the verge of history despite losing the second Test 16-15 in Melbourne on Saturday and he insists there won’t be any sense of negativity in the camp ahead of the series decider in Sydney.
“I don’t think it’s going to be tough at all,” was Gatland’s response when asked whether he would have to work hard to lift his players after the heart-breaking nature of the second Test reverse.
“The guys realise how important it is and how close it is. We’ve got a couple of days off now just to recuperate and when we get back on the training ground again they’ll lift themselves for next week.
“They’ll realise how close we came to holding Australia out and winning that. So next week is again a massive opportunity. It just shows you how exciting this series is.
“We’re one-all. We’ll look after ourselves for the next couple of days and we’ll look forward to next week and be excited about it. Last week was close and it was another close one tonight that could have gone either way. In fairness to Australia, they keep going until 80 minutes. It was a tough, tough Test match.”
Gatland felt it was a game of two halves at the Etihad Stadium, with the Lions controlling territory in the first but letting the hosts establish a foothold late on in the lead up to Adam Ashley-Cooper’s 76th-minute converted try.
“I was really pleased with the first half. I thought our breakdown stuff was good and we affected a lot of turnovers and we defended very well,” added Gatland.
“In the second half, the disappointing thing was that we didn’t control territory as well as we’d done in the first half. We dominated that aspect of the game in the first half but in the second half we weren’t as strong there. Unfortunately there were a couple of critical turnovers which allowed them to keep the pressure on us. That’s something that we need to improve on for next week.
“We saw how close the game was. We were pleased with the way we started, we were really pleased with our physicality. Defence dominated the game and the breakdown. We probably just weren’t as accurate as we needed to be in that second half in terms of allowing them a chance to get back into the game.”