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VIDEO: Gatland and Warburton pleased with testing opening victory

British & Irish Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland was pleased to have been pushed hard in the opening game of the 2017 Tour as his side claimed a 13-7 win over the NZ Provincial Barbarians in Whangarei.

“We learned a lot tonight in terms of knowing how tough it is to come to New Zealand and how motivated the teams are going to be against us.”

The Lions trailed 7-3 at the break in their clash at Toll Stadium, but recovered in the second half thanks to a penalty from Greig Laidlaw and then Anthony Watson’s try.

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Gatland admitted it was a more testing opening game than four years ago when the Lions were comfortable winners against the Barbarians in Hong Kong, and believes that can only help the Lions going forward.

He said: “It was a tough match, very tough. We learned a lot tonight in terms of knowing how tough it is to come to New Zealand and how motivated the teams are going to be against us.

“When we look back four years ago, we played the Barbarians in Hong Kong and had a comfortable victory that didn’t test us. Tonight tested us.

“In 2009 our opening game in South Africa was up against a World XV in Rustenburg and we suffered a little bit in that game as well.

“So tonight was tough, we created a number of opportunities but we needed to be clinical in terms of finishing, we were held up over the line about four times. If we were a bit more clinical and finished those opportunities the game would have been reasonably comfortable.

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“It’s a tough hit-out for us but there are some positives and lots of things for us to work on.”

Click here to read the report of the first game on Tour!

Skipper Sam Warburton shared Gatland’s view that the hard-fought win will serve the Lions well.

 

He added: “I thought it was a good, it was a good first game to have, you would much rather that than a 50-point win as long as we keep improving and edging forward each game I’ll be happy.

“It’s good that we have some footage to work off now, we can get back into training, tomorrow will be a day off then Monday we can start building again.”

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