Tuesday 20 February 2018

Conor Murray warns Lions team-mates New Zealand will be 'hurting' after defeat

Conor Murray starred for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand
Conor Murray starred for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand

Conor Murray has no doubt that world champions New Zealand will be "hurting" heading into next Saturday's Test series decider against the British and Irish Lions.

Scrum-half Murray scored the Lions' second try as they claimed a dramatic 24-21 victory at Westpac Stadium, edging home after All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams was sent off in the first half.

Murray also starred when Ireland beat the All Blacks in November last year, before New Zealand responded by gaining a revenge victory at Dublin's Aviva Stadium two weeks later.

And the Munster number nine knows the scene is set for a high-octane series conclusion at Eden Park, where the hosts have not lost since 1994.

"They are going to be hurting, aren't they?" Murray said.

"They will have a response, they will be hurting and they are at home in Eden Park. It's going to be a massive challenge.

"We will enjoy tonight and appreciate what we've done, but everyone is looking forward to beginning work and getting as well prepared for next week in trying to take an opportunity.

"It's a great place to be in. It will make the last week of the tour a little easier. It could have been a long week next week.

"Not many people get to be in this position. We are going to do our best to take it."

Williams' 25th-minute exit - he became the first All Blacks player to be sent off in a Test match in New Zealand and first anywhere for 50 years - gave the Lions a one-man advantage they at times struggled to exploit.

Lions players were visibly unhappy with Williams' shoulder charge on wing Anthony Watson, and Murray added: "You are on the pitch, you see it and it looked illegal. You see one of your players get hurt and you want the ref to have a look at it.

"I wasn't trying to get anyone sent off or anything. It's just one of those things that happen on the pitch."

The Lions squad now head to Queenstown in New Zealand's Southern Alps for pre-planned rest and recovery until arriving in Auckland on Wednesday, from where final third Test preparations will be made.

And Murray said: "Mentally, we are going to be thinking about this game all week, but the next few days are about rest and recovery. It's nice to think it will be a bit quieter down in Queenstown, to get away from the bubble of it and then rev up and go for it.

"I think we stuck together and have shown a lot of character to stay in the fight.

"A lot of stuff didn't go our way today, particularly discipline. Silly penalties made it hard for us chasing the game a bit too much, but I thought we attacked them and you need to do that against the All Blacks and take your chances.

"I just thought we showed a lot of character, dug in and stayed in the fight and came out the right end.

"I gave away one or two penalties - a high tackle and not rolling away - silly things that we can control. We will look at that this week and make sure they are in check.

"But to beat the All Blacks, having been in a difficult position for most of the game, just showed how much we cared and how much we were willing to work for each other. We are going to need it again next week and be a lot more clinical."

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