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Video: Stander reflects on bittersweet Lions debut

CJ Stander scored a try on his Lions debut against the Blues but the Ireland back-row forward admitted the emotions were bittersweet after the final whistle.

“Our driving maul was quite good, our scrum was good and our back line gelled together quite well.”

The Lions produced a much-improved performance at Eden Park against the Blues on Wednesday but slipped to a narrow 22-16 defeat thanks to Ihaia West’s dramatic late score.

Stander’s first-half try at the back of a rolling  maul and the boot of Leigh Halfpenny had looked like it might be enough to secure the Lions a hard-fought victory late on.

Click here to watch the highlights of the Lions narrow 22-16 defeat to the Blues

But in the end the Blues produced a moment of magic to leave Stander to reflect on what might have been.

“It was unbelievable to run out, a win would have made it even sweeter but you can’t always get what you want,” said the 27-year-old.

“It is great to get the jersey on, just enjoy the game and get out there with the boys.

“It’s not really my try, our mauling was quite good and I just literally fell over the line. It’s mostly down to Maro and Courtney and the props at the front, I got the fame for it but the boys did the hard work.

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“The Blues were good, I said earlier in the week that if we make mistakes they will punish us and they did exactly that.

“They played 80 minutes and scored an unbelievable try at the end, you can’t really stop that.

We just need to control the game better from the start.”

The Lions head to Christchurch this weekend looking to bounce back against the Crusaders in their third game of the Tour.

And Stander is confident his side will continue to improve as the Tour progresses building into the Test series with the All Blacks.

“I think we’re frustrated because every time we got a chance in their 22 we left it off and let them out easy,” he added.

“There are a lot of work ons but the good thing is it’s stuff we can fix.

“If we can keep the penalties down and just make sure we look after the ball then it will be a lot better.

“A lot of boys got new caps, a lot of boys got to mix it and gel again as a team together.

“Our driving maul was quite good, our scrum was good and our back line gelled together quite well.

“We just need to control the game again, there are a lot of positives out of it.”

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