FORSYTH-BARR STADIUM, Dunedin — Discipline and scrum interpretation remain a concern for British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland following a run of penalties in the latter stages of Tuesday’s loss to the Highlanders that left prop Kyle Sinckler bemused.
The Lions conceded four penalties in the first half, but gave away a flurry after the interval with referee Angus Gardner punishing them on eight occasions. Two of these were in the scrum, with the latter giving Marty Banks the chance to win the match for the hosts.
After getting the edge in the scrum against the Crusaders at the weekend, they found the wrong side of Gardner with both scrum penalties coming when the Lions had replaced their front row.
The British & Irish Lions slipped to a last-gasp defeat to the Highlanders in Dunedin as Marty Banks struck a late penalty to seal a 23-22 win. Here’s what the tourists will have learned.
Medical advice left the British & Irish Lions with no choice but to end Stuart Hogg’s tour, says head coach Warren Gatland.
The British & Irish Lions face a gruelling 10-game tour of New Zealand, including three Tests against the All Blacks. ESPN will be there with full, up-to-date coverage every step of the way.
“It’s a tricky one but at the end of the day, there [were] no penalties conceded in the scrum for the whole game but then a whole new front row comes on and the scrum collapses and the referee gives the penalty straight away,” Sinckler said.
“It makes no sense to me as a tight-head prop. It makes no sense to me. Ultimately that changes the game. But I just think there’s not much you can do with the penalty in the first scrum of the game where there’s a whole new front row and there’s a genuine collapse.
“Normally when you have a whole new front row on, you give it time — you have whole new combinations who want to come on and prove a point and you let them settle in and the referee ultimately made a decision so we have to get on with it.”
On Cole’s first scrum you could hear the Highlanders’ pack telling referee Gardner “we have dominance”, but Sinckler dismissed those suggestions: “How can you have dominance? They didn’t get a penalty the whole game.”
Gatland conceded that scrummaging cost the Lions the game as the Highlanders gained the ascendancy in the final quarter as a result of the tourists’ poor discipline.
“Overall they did get on top of us and we need to make sure we go and work hard over the next couple of weeks to make sure we rectify it if there’s an issue at scrum time,” Gatland said.
“It’s about staying alive for every moment. If you do switch off they take advantage. We’ve just been caught on one or two occasions, and I think the players will learn from those occasions.
Sinckler was unhappy with how the scrum was refereed once the Lions had changed their front row. David Rogers/Getty Images
“I look to those two penalties against Dan Cole, and I think the first one’s a penalty to us, the loosehead has gone down. They’ve seen a different picture.
“There’s no doubt they’ve got some ascendancy in the second scrum penalty and I accept that, but I thought the first one, we’d forced an error. But look, you’ve just got to take those on the chin.
“And it’s the same with the TMO who has made the call on whether it was obstruction or not. That’s just part of it. We’ve gone from single figure penalties to double figure penalties again.
“That’s eight or nine penalties in that last 10 or 12 minutes and that really hurt us. We’ve got to make sure we’re better in those moments, because sometimes that’s the difference between sometimes winning and losing games.
“We’ve got to make sure we adapt during the game with the way teams are scrummaging against us.”
The Lions will monitor Courtney Lawes after he was forced off with a head knock, sustained trying to stop Waiseke Naholo for the Highlanders’ first try, while Rhys Webb is nursing a haematoma.
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Lions left licking scrum wounds
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