Best: Lions will hold inquest into Highlanders defeat

Ulster's Rory Best
 in action for the Lions
Ulster's Rory Best in action for the Lions

Rory Best has promised the British and Irish Lions will launch a wide-ranging inquest into their Highlanders defeat.

Ireland captain Best lamented the Lions’ 23-22 loss in Dunedin, where the tourists let a nine-point lead evaporate en route to a second defeat in four games.

The first Test against New Zealand is coming up on June 24, and Best admitted Warren Gatland’s side must now sharpen up quickly.

Best acknowledged the poor penalty count and problems at the scrum will be high on the Lions’ agenda of issues to solve.

“Whatever level you play at, the penalty count realistically you need to be below 10 to have a good chance of winning the game and we didn’t get that,” Best said. “We’re disappointed again; we’re going to have to take a look at why.

“It’s a bit of a hiccup for us. The boys on Saturday laid down a marker (beating the Crusaders 12-3) and we wanted to pick that up.

“At 22-13 we put ourselves in a position to really take a hold of it and that’s probably the biggest disappointment, alongside losing the game, that we let it slip.

“We had enough class on the pitch to see that game off and in fact go on and take a real stranglehold of it. It’s disappointing for the whole squad.

“We just weren’t ruthless enough and that’s ultimately where we are at with that.”

The Highlanders – as with the Crusaders on Saturday – spent much time telling the officials that they boasted the more powerful scrum.

The Lions are unhappy with a growing perception that they have scrum issues, though boss Gatland admitted they deserved to concede the late set-piece penalty that allowed Marty Banks to slot the winning goal.

Ulster stalwart Best found the scrum refereeing “frustrating”, but backed the Lions to prove their set-piece power moving forward.

“It was very, very frustrating,” the 34-year-old said of the scrum officiating.

“We got penalised rightly so for the one that they kicked but there was another couple where their prop was on their knees and stuff. All you are really looking for is a bit of consistency and I am not sure we necessarily got it.

“But, having said that, there was probably more factors in our control in the scrum that we can do better at and that is what we have to look at.

“We have to probably be a little more adaptable than we were. It’s frustrating.

“It is an area of strength for us and I don’t think we are going to let one scrum penalty completely derail us but it is something we have to take a look at.”

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“I think we could be a bit smarter in playing the ref - obviously paint a better picture at the scrum and don’t get penalised.

“We have to play the ref and the conditions and take the sting out of their momentum.”