Wednesday 20 November 2019

Bowe: We're desperate to win series

British and Irish Lions player Tommy Bowe
British and Irish Lions player Tommy Bowe

Duncan Bech

Tommy Bowe wants the British and Irish Lions to batter Australia into submission at ANZ Stadium, drawing on the pain of past failures to triumph in tomorrow's series decider.

Head coach Warren Gatland has picked his most powerful team for the final Test, with four of the six new arrivals - Jamie Roberts, Toby Faletau, Mike Phillips and Sean O'Brien - leading the physical assault on the Wallabies.


The Lions have lost every series since South Africa in 1997 and Bowe, a veteran of the epic struggle against the Springboks four years ago, insists the recent history of heroic failures must be addressed.


"Last week we did so much defending. We were on the back foot an awful lot and when we had the ball we kicked it away," the Ireland wing said.


"If we can play rugby tomorrow we can do a lot of damage, certainly with a lot of the players we've got in this team. There are huge ball carriers there.


"If we can hold on to the ball, keep battering over the top of the Aussies, hopefully it will cause a bit of damage.


"There's a huge amount of emotion in the squad at the minute. We realise that it's 16 years since we last won a Lions series.


"The disappointment of losing out to a try in the last six minutes of the second Test in Melbourne was heartbreaking.


"We've taken a lot from that, we've regrouped and we'll leave everything out on the pitch tomorrow."


Outside of Sir Clive Woodward's abysmal 2005 tour to New Zealand, since 1997 the Lions have made a habit of falling agonisingly short having given everything to the cause.


That scenario unfolded four years ago when Morne Steyn landed a penalty with the last kick of the game to give South Africa a series-clinching 28-25 victory in the second Test.


Fast forward to 2013 and the margins have been even finer, with the Lions winning the first Test 23-21 and losing the second 16-15, with last-ditch penalties almost altering the result in both games.


"I just remember the disappointment of it all in 2009. I remember the disappointment of the second Test when we lost to that last kick. I just hope it doesn't come down to that again," Bowe said.


"The first two Tests against Australia have been really close, neck and neck stuff.


"Everybody will be giving everything tomorrow. We know exactly what we need to do and we want to play some rugby.


"We were a little bit passive last weekend, we let Australia take the game to us and we need to reverse that tomorrow."


Graham Rowntree has instructed the Lions to empty the tanks at ANZ Stadium for what he regards as the biggest match of the players' and coaches' lives.


Assistant-coach Rowntree has outlined what will be required to topple the Wallabies, who enter what is expected to be another herculean struggle as marginal favourites.


"Seeing how we've trained all week, crikey we're ready for this battle," Rowntree said.


"We saw the reaction from Australia after they beat us last weekend - their captain James Horwill was crying.


"They threw everything at us and beat us by a point. We didn't get our game going and we know that.


"There's loads more to come from us and the guys are desperate to win. This is grand final rugby, the last throw of the dice with everything to play for.


"Very much so there's one huge performance left in us. These players are desperate for tomorrow.


"We have to go out and give it everything. This is the biggest games of our lives, as players and coaches.


"A lot of us have been involved in grand final games, but this is the biggest one for us."


"We feel a little bit how they did after the first week. There is a lot of emotion within the team at the moment after we lost last weekend, and we are going to come with everything tomorrow."

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