RUGBY: Warren Gatland happy with dominant Lions performance

British & Irish Lions  head coach Warren Gatland
British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland was pleased with his side’s dominance as the British and Irish Lions defeated the Maori All Blacks 32-10 in Rotorua and hopes it stands them in good stead for their opening Test against New Zealand.

A penalty try and further score from Maro Itoje crushed the Maori spirit, with the home side given precious few chances to steal a victory to emulate their predecessors of 2005. The Maori stunned the Lions 19-13 some 12 years ago, but here the tourists wrestled their hosts into submission.

Leigh Halfpenny’s six penalties and flawless 20-point haul from the boot underpinned a muscular triumph, with the tourists dominant at the set-piece and all tight exchanges.

Gatland told Sky Sports 1: “If you look at territory and position we dominated things.

“We had to tidy up a few things at half-time...but, apart from a couple of stupid penalties in the first half, I thought we played some good rugby, we managed the game really well and we squeezed the life out of them basically.

“We we smart. There was a period in that first half...we’ve been guilty in other games of just playing too much around the 10-metre line, putting ourselves under a bit of pressure, but we got some good go-forward ball, created some good opportunities and defended well.

“They never really put us under any real pressure, even the try they scored. We’re really pleased with our performance.

“Up front the scrum was good and the line-out in the game was excellent.

“What’s so strong about New Zealand rugby is that these guys play at that level week in and week out and we’re benefiting from that experience against the teams and the quality of the sides we’re playing and hopefully that sets us up nicely for the Test next week.

“By the looks of it it’s going to be a cracking series.”

When quizzed about his thoughts on the team to face the All Blacks in next Saturday’s first Test, Gatland admitted he would have to have another look after Tuesday’s match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Asked how many names Gatland already had in his starting XI for next weekend’s match, he replied: “I don’t know yet, we’ve got to get through Tuesday yet. That’s another big challenge for us. And then (we can) start thinking about next Saturday.”