Saturday 21 April 2018

Kyle Sinckler urges British and Irish Lions to let actions do talking on field

Kyle Sinckler has called on the Lions not to rise to New Zealand's scrum bait
Kyle Sinckler has called on the Lions not to rise to New Zealand's scrum bait

Kyle Sinckler has told the British and Irish Lions exactly how to respond to the growing campaign in New Zealand to undermine their scrum - "say nothing".

Head coach Warren Gatland admitted the Lions were bested at the set-piece when conceding a late scrum penalty that gifted the Highlanders a 23-22 victory in Dunedin on Tuesday.

The Lions led 22-13 in the second half only to slip to a second loss in four tour matches, with Gatland acknowledging his men must now sharpen up at the scrum.

Sinckler accepted that the Highlanders - just like the Crusaders on Saturday - were trying to influence the officials against the Lions' scrum - but has vowed the tourists will keep their counsel on the field.

Asked how the Lions should respond to Kiwi players' bid to influence referees, Sinckler said: "Not talk; say nothing.

"When your backs are against the wall, I've been lucky enough to be around guys like Dan Cole, Graham Rowntree and Neal Hatley, and they will tell you, 'Just crack on, let your actions do the talking'."

The Highlanders players were telling referee Angus Gardner right from the off that they were dominating the scrum.

Harlequins and England prop Sinckler reacted in disbelief to that, insisting the scrum was a strong contest for the majority of the contest.

"How can they have dominance? They didn't get a penalty the whole game there until the last few minutes," Sinckler said.

"I don't see how they have got dominance. It's just at the end of the day a perception thing.

"We know we're going to have our backs against the wall every single game when we're here, and we've got to stick together as a 41-man squad, the staff and everyone.

"It just doesn't make any sense to me, some of the calls."

The Lions wrestled the upper hand in the scrum in the 12-3 win over the Crusaders, but the Christchurch hosts maintained throughout they had claimed the edge.

The theme of scrummaging and refereeing interpretations will run throughout the entire Lions tour, with the visitors well aware they must tighten up for the All Blacks Tests.

Replacement tighthead prop Dan Cole was squeezed into turning in for the crucial penalty that allowed Marty Banks to slot the winning penalty on Tuesday.

Sinckler impressed in his second start for the Lions, but was left to bemoan a scrummaging situation he felt did little justice to the tourists.

Sinckler felt the Lions were hard done by for being penalised immediately after they sent on all three front-row replacements.

"It's a tricky one, isn't it?" he said. "At the end of the day there's no penalties conceded in the scrum in the whole game, then a whole new front row come on, and the scrum just collapses and the referee gives a penalty straight away.

"It makes no sense to me. Ultimately that changed the game.

"They kicked to the corner and were in our 22.

"Ultimately it's all about taking your chances and the Highlanders did that.

"But there's not much you can really do with that penalty first time out for the whole new front row. That was just a genuine collapse.

"Normally a new front row is given time to settle, new combinations, guys want to come on and prove a point.

"You tend to let them come on and settle in, but the referee made the decision, and we've got to move on for Saturday.

"I think to get ourselves in the position when we're 22-13 up, ultimately we should be trying to close out the game.

"It's a bit raw, there's a lot of disappointed boys, but the beauty of this tour is that you can't dwell because we've got a game on Saturday.

"Our attack's coming on nicely, our defence again was outstanding, but we've got to look at ourselves for the last 15 minutes."

Press Association

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