Saturday 19 August 2017

Lions facing inquest after Highlanders loss as Rory Best labels the defeat 'unacceptable'

 

Rory Best receives treatment for an injury during the Lions' defeat to Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand. Photo: GETTY
Rory Best receives treatment for an injury during the Lions' defeat to Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, New Zealand. Photo: GETTY
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Rory Best has described the nature of the Lions' loss to the Otago Highlanders as unacceptable.

The tourists squandered a strong winning position in Dunedin yesterday morning, entering the final quarter 22-13 up and conceding 10 unanswered points to the Super Rugby side who were missing their leading All Blacks. It was their second defeat on tour.

Best was off the pitch for the late collapse, but said the players would take collective responsibility for the poor finish; urging the squad to rally behind the team who face the Maori All Blacks on Saturday in Rotorua.

After a strong side got the tour up and running with a memorable win over the previously unbeaten Crusaders on Saturday, Best conceded that this result is a setback.

"It's a bit of a hiccup for us, the boys on Saturday laid down a marker and we wanted to pick that up," he said. "We're really, really disappointed to have lost that game."

"Having said that, at 22-13 we put ourselves in a position to really take a hold of it and that's probably the biggest disappointment alongside losing the game that we let it slip.

"At this level, at any level, but certainly at this level that's not acceptable.

"We should have had... we do have enough class on the pitch to see that game off and in fact go on and take a real stranglehold of it.

"It's disappointing for the whole squad.

"Like we did exactly a week ago we'll have to dust ourselves down and in three or four days' time we play another tough game and we'll just have to get together as a squad and make sure that we're doing the right things, that the guys playing tonight who won't have a chance on Saturday make sure the guys on Saturday are prepared.

"That's what a tour like this is about.

"Boys are disappointed tonight and we can't lose them, because the preparation they can give the guys who will play next is essential."

Stuart Hogg has returned to Scotland due to a fractured cheek-bone, but Warren Gatland has not called up a replacement for the full-back.

Gatland's injury concerns are growing. Courtney Lawes was concussed trying to prevent Waisake Naholo from scoring, while Rhys Webb suffered a dead leg.

He names his team to face the Maori at 8pm tonight and could pair Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell together for the first time, while Seán O'Brien is set to start again.

Irish Independent

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