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Lions First Test: Post-Match Reaction

Lions First Test: Post-Match Reaction

The British & Irish Lions endured a nervy finish to the first Test before running out 23-21 winners over the Wallabies at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium. The players involved were pleased to have come out on the right side of a tight result.

JONATHAN SEXTON: It was pretty hectic, pretty crazy out there at times. It was frantic, tough to control at times, and luckily we have a lot of good leaders in the team that meant we were able to manage the game well at times.

At times we didn’t manage it so well. So there are things we need to improve on, and we know there are fine margins and we need to make sure we improve again next week.

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In many ways it felt like it was gone when the (last minute) penalty was given, and obviously we got a bit of luck with Kurtley (Beale) slipping. If it was the second Test, I am sure there would be massive celebrations.

But the way we won it and it is only the first Test, there weren’t big celebrations. We know there is one more to go until we do something that will be remembered.

In my head, if he had got that (a 75th minute penalty) I knew we had time at least to go and try to get a drop goal or a penalty, so that was all I was focusing on then. But then with the last kick, the clock was up. Once he had lined that up it was all or nothing. It was win or lose, so it was out of your control then.

As a kicker, in many ways you don’t want to see him slip. If he misses, he misses, but to see him slip is tough on him. It (goal-kicking) is a great place when you’re going well, and it’s a tough place when you miss.

He will have a couple of hard days thinking about it, but I feel for him because he slipped. We will never know if the ball would have gone over if he didn’t slip, and he kicked a few good ones before that.

The pitch was tough and it was a scrum penalty as well. The ground was all churned up and it would have been tough for him to find a decent spot.

What a try (from George North) in the first half. It was a massive boost for us to get him back before the game with the hamstring (injury) that he had. When a guy with that size gets up to that kind of pace…Berrick (Barnes) is a good defender but he wasn’t going to stop him.

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL: It felt like a bit of a scrappy Test match, I’m sure there were some good tries scored but it was a strange one. We felt we were more than two points better than them and we should probably have lost it in the end with that kick in front of goal.

When you’re caught in the middle of a Test match sometimes it’s very hard to see (how a game was). I’m not a spectator, I’m just looking after my own house so it’s difficult to really understand how fluid the game was.

I felt a lot of the breaking ball seemed to go Australia’s way and maybe all of our luck came with that last kick when Kurtley slipped trying to kick that goal…because little deflections, little kicks that went askew seemed to go into their hands and it just wasn’t really happened for us.

100%, it was all about the win. Pretty losses are no good to anyone. Ugly wins will do it, I don’t know how ugly that was until I’ll be able to look back on the footage.

There were some nice tries. You saw three big units scored some pretty tasty tries. I’m sure both teams will be trying to get the ball into their hands again next week.

Getting a win in the first Test certainly helps (in a series like this), but I’ve learnt the hard way in the past…it’s a headstart but not the be-all and end-all and you really need to go and finish it off next week and win the series before we go into that third game.

So, we’ll relax tonight, let the hair down a little bit but not too much and then regroup for a big, big Test match in Melbourne on Saturday.

JAMIE HEASLIP: It was an amazing occasion. Even the night before the Test walking around Brisbane there were people doing choir practice outside. They were breaking into different songs and then breaking into ‘Lions, Lions’ – it was amazing.

There have been a lot of big games against Australia that spring to mind, like in the 2011 World Cup. That felt like a home game.

But when we ran out we saw a lot of yellow and then patches of red, but by God were they vocal. When we went to the well they were screaming and we could hear them chanting ‘Lions, Lions’ – it took your breath away at times.

We’ve got a lot of players who have played in really big, important games. This season alone with Leinster we were alive in two competitions, and the November series with Ireland was very important in terms of the World Cup draw.

The lads have experience of the Heineken Cup, big international matches and Grand Slams, so we will just see this as knockout football. 

It’s not really good and it’s not really bad, it’s just a case of saying, ‘Right, what do we need to do going into this next game?’

A lot of the guys have knowledge of things like the back-to-back games in the Heineken Cup before Christmas, which are always tough.

The second one is always a whole lot tighter than the first one, but you can’t get anything much tighter than the game here. It’s going to make for an interesting week next week.

SAM WARBURTON: I’m absolutely delighted with the win – it’s a great start. But it’s only half a job done. We celebrated for a bit and then after a while we realised that we have to back it up again next week.

It’s great for momentum that we’ve got the first game sorted now but we’re looking forward to supporting the boys on Tuesday, keeping the winning streak going and then getting back to work on Saturday.

It was entertaining, that’s for sure. It was too close for comfort and the last 20 minutes were really hard. You have to give it to Australia, they went all the way and we’ll expect a lot more in the next two Test matches.

The sides are pretty even and that showed as it went down to the last 10 seconds. They came out very well in the first 20 minutes which is what we expected. It was a very quick first 20 but we weathered the storm and put points on the board, and then it was to and fro.

It took a while to sink in because I thought I was in the same situation as last year with Wales – it’s happened way too many times before. When it’s taken out of your control with a kick, all you can do is watch. I thought it was going to go over. It was one of the worst minutes of my life!

The fans have been immense. It’s the one part of the tour I was really looking forward to and they haven’t disappointed. We could hear them from the hotel. I’d be sitting in my room in the afternoon and I could hear them on the streets of Brisbane.

When we walked onto the bus, and even afterwards doing post-match interviews, hearing the noise from the fans was great. From a player’s point of view, it’s massive.

It doesn’t half pick you up when you are tired and you’re blowing in the game. When they suddenly find a voice and get behind you it’s a massive lift for the team.

Related Links –

Lions Emerge Victorious From Brisbane Battle

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