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Gatland upbeat despite 'average' display


Lions head coach Warren Gatland. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire.

WARREN Gatland yesterday reflected on a mixed performance by the British and Irish Lions in their latest Australia tour match.

Although the Lions predictably crushed a Combined Country XV of mostly part-time players 64-0 at Hunter Stadium, scoring 10 tries, the second-half display contained a number of uncharacteristic errors.

In four games so far, the Lions have racked up 214 points and 28 tries, but only one of those fixtures – last Saturday against Queensland Reds in Brisbane – seriously tested them.

But their next two encounters, against New South Wales Waratahs and the Brumbies, should challenge them ahead of Saturday week's first Test match against Australia in Brisbane.

"It was a lot of use," said Lions head coach Gatland, who was short and to the point with his post-match press conference answers. That team only had one training session together.

"There was some excellent stuff and there was some average stuff as well. There were a few turnovers.

"There is great harmony within the squad. We are undefeated, so if we can win the next two games, we will arrive in Brisbane undefeated.

"We will be in a good positive frame of mind."

The Lions led 38-0 at half-time, but the second period was low-key in comparison, even though the tourists ended up with tries from George North (two), Richard Hibbard, Alex Cuthbert, Stuart Hogg, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, Conor Murray, Brian O'Driscoll and Sean O'Brien.

Gatland, meanwhile, said that wing Tommy Bowe remains hopeful of being fit for the second Test in Melbourne on June 29 and currently remains with the squad.

Bowe underwent surgery on his hand last Sunday and his Ireland teammate Simon Zebo arrived in Australia yesterday as injury cover.

"There is a good chance he (Zebo) might be involved in the next two games," Gatland added. "Now that Simon is here, we will try to involve him in some way."