Warren Gatland Column: Series decider now our cup final

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Warren Gatland with the media after the game

South Africa bounced back from losing the opening Test to level the series against The British & Irish Lions and set up a winner-takes-all finale at Cape Town Stadium.

Head coach Warren Gatland gives his thoughts on his side’s 27-9 defeat and looks forward to the deciding final Test against the Springboks in his first-person column:

CUP FINAL NEXT WEEK

“We were happy at half-time but in the second half we just didn’t get anything going, no momentum, no real opportunity to play, nothing at all from the kick returns – whether from us or them.

“That was disappointing and we’ve probably also given away some penalties. In fairness to them, they scrummaged well in the second half and got some reward from that.

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“As I say, we were happy with the way the first half had gone and felt going into half-time we’d carried well, we’d got forward momentum, but we didn’t achieve that at all in the second half.

Alun Wyn Jones speaks to the team after the game

“The players are obviously very disappointed but next Saturday is a cup final and that’s the way we’ve got to look at it and prepare. There are a few things we’ve got to tidy up.

“It’s 1-1 and South Africa put a huge amount of emotion into that game so now we’ve got that chance next week to hopefully secure the series win.”

DIFFICULT TO FIND RHYTHM

“It’s not long after the game and we will do a proper review of the match and look at individuals to see whether we do need to make some changes ahead of the final Test.

“I was happy with that first half performance and thought we were getting some reward out of that but we just didn’t get the bounce of the ball or anything in that second half.

“We weren’t able to create momentum and the game was very slow in terms of how often the clock was stopped and they did a good job managing that by slowing the game down.

“It was frustrating for us as it was difficult to get that rhythm because of how stop-start it was. That’s something we’ll look at next week, how we can get more tempo in the game.

Robbie Henshaw celebrates after scoring a try with Chris Harris that was later disallowed after a review by TMO

“We were happy with our carrying the first half. The way South Africa defend and rush up is tough and there were a couple of opportunities where we should have put the ball through the hands.

“We could have looked to exploit that more and even on penalty advantages, they did a good job of not giving us that chance to play by slowing the ball down and going back for the penalty.

“We’ve just got to be aware of that and take advantage of that situation.”

SELECTION FOR FINAL TEST

“Selection has been really tough and there are a lot of players in the squad where it was a toss of a coin in terms of who we selected and who we didn’t, that’s credit to the players.

“The whole squad have worked incredibly hard and the non-23 did a great job this week in terms of helping the players prepare and we’ll spend the next couple of days reviewing the game.

“We’ll look at what we think is the best 23 to put out in the final Test – whether that’s some fresh faces who haven’t been involved in the first two games, as we have got lots of options.

Ken Owens, Kyle Sinckler, Ali Price, Rory Sutherland and Owen Farrell dejected under the posts after a South Africa try

“We have guys we can bring in to give us energy or momentum as well. Sometimes the game goes like that and we just got nothing out of it, while we got a lot out of it last week.

“In terms of the aerial battle, we knew that was coming and we worked on it during the week but sometimes that just happens and Liam Williams was disappointed to miss out.

“He’s one of those players who will come into contention as well as others as well. Or we can put that same team out and give them a chance to redeem themselves.”

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