Gatland wary of major Lions changes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Warren Gatland has hinted the British and Irish Lions will resist the temptation to make wholesale changes for their must-win second Test against South Africa.

The Lions were beaten 26-21 in Durban and are expected to select a new front row on Saturday in order to neutralise the scrummaging and mauling dominance the Springboks enjoyed last weekend.



Tight-head prop Adam Jones and hooker Matthew Rees are favourites to start alongside Gethin Jenkins in an all-Welsh front row, while the Lions could be forced into a change at full-back if Lee Byrne fails to recover from a foot injury.



But speaking after the Lions' 13-13 draw with the Emerging Springboks last night - and therefore before today's selection meeting - Gatland cautioned against radical changes.



The Lions forwards coach said: "There's a lot of decisions to make. Some guys have put their hands up tonight, but we need to make sure we are not too reactive after the first Test.



"We were obviously disappointed last weekend, so we've got to 'front up' at scrum time and in the driving maul areas.



"We passed the ball more than them last weekend and scored three tries to their two, so if we are going to win the Test we've got to work hard at battling the driven ball."



Lock Nathan Hines' already slim chances of making the team for Saturday were in doubt last night after he was cited for an alleged dangerous tackle during the draw. He faces a disciplinary hearing today after being reported for alleged foul play by the match citing commissioner.



The wet and wild conditions in Cape Town last night - torrential rain and winds of up to 85kph had been buffeting the city all day - meant it was tough for players to push their Test credentials.



Riki Flutey and Keith Earls were both highly impressive. But neither is likely to feature in the Test reckoning, while winger Luke Fitzgerald did his chances no harm at all.



Ronan O'Gara started as captain but was effectively thrust into a fly-half face-off with James Hook, who was introduced after just four minutes of the second half.



"The conditions were up there with the worst I have experienced," said Munster fly-half O'Gara.



"We wanted to push management for selection for the weekend but we didn't really get that opportunity. We had to temper the gameplan.



"We needed to get one score further ahead. I don't think we felt under threat by this team tonight - but they came at us in the end.



"The mood is disappointed. There is a realisation some guys won't play again on this tour, and it will hurt."



The Lions led 10-0 with a try from the impressive Earls and then 13-6 after James Hook had added a penalty to O'Gara's early strike.



But Cheetahs winger Danwel Demas ruined an otherwise impressive Lions defensive performance by scoring in the corner with the final attack of the match.



Willem de Waal, who had helped Western Province push the Lions close at Newlands earlier in the tour, sealed a famous result for the Emerging Springboks with a brilliant touchline conversion.



Comments