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The 3 things that most pleased Gatland in Saturday's Lions win

By Liam Heagney

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Lions boss Warren Gatland has highlighted the three things that most pleased him about his team’s 56-14 over the Sigma Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday in the first match of their 2021 tour in South Africa. The Lions has flown to the southern hemisphere having had a costly hit-out versus Japan in Murrayfield where they lost tour skipper Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric. 

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That pre-departure match in Scotland last Saturday was won 28-10, the Lions starting well but losing their way in the remaining 50 minutes. However, they were way more effective in their opening run in South Africa, leading 14-0 after just seven minutes and going on to score a total of eight tries – four of them for Josh Adams – en route to a comfortably 42-point winning margin. 

Asked what pleased him most about the effort, Gatland said: “I thought the guy on the left wing did okay today. Pleased with the bench. I thought the bench brought some energy. 

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“Probably for us we went in there with a game plan, we had to adjust the way that we wanted to play because we were getting a bit more success in terms of they probably didn’t pressure us as much from a blitz defence as we had expected, so we were able to change the way we played so that was a pretty good reaction. 

“I was just really pleased, the energy out there and the enthusiasm, the guys working hard to get back when they [Sigma] make a few breaks, we made a couple of mistakes. They were hard to get the ball off because there was a lot of one-pass, two-pass rugby, so that was quite hard when we did turn it over that they were playing lots of phases against us but I thought a really positive start.

“We have been getting better and better as a squad the more time we spent together. We made 14 changes. We have put down a bit of a marker but we know as a group that we won’t be 100 per cent satisfied, still lots of improvements but we feel like we can get there and make lots of improvements too.”

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With the non-matchday 23 having all trained hard on Saturday morning bar Robbie Henshaw, who is nursing what Gatland described as a minor hamstring issue, the Lions plan to give the squad a day off on Sunday in order to get everyone working on the same training cycle. 

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The 3 things that most pleased Gatland in Saturday's Lions win

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