Sport Lions Tour

Sunday 21 January 2018

Warburton: We expected a massive test

British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton is denied a first half try
British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton is denied a first half try

Sam Warburton knew the British and Irish Lions had been well tested after they beat Queensland Reds 22-12 in a pulsating game in Brisbane.

The Lions had battered the Barbarians and Western Force in their previous games but today they had to dig deep following a ferocious start from the hosts.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs claimed a close-range touchdown for the tourists, while fly-half Owen Farrell kicked 17 points, but there was another possible fitness concern when centre Manu Tuilagi departed nursing a shoulder injury midway through the opening period with Tommy Bowe also a concern.

Captain Warburton, playing in his first match of the tour, told Sky Sports 2: "It was great to get the win, it was a really tough one.

"We expected that all week.

"It was great for us - we knew the Reds in attack would offer a lot today and they made it tough for us."

Youngs echoed Warburton's sentiments, saying: "The boys worked very hard. Queensland brought it to us.

"The boys dug in.

"We knew we would be under pressure at times.

"We know we will get it right next time."

Of what it meant to him, Youngs added: "Just getting out there and getting a game under my belt

"It was nice to get out there with a run and play with guys you normally play against."

Lions coach Warren Gatland pointed to his side's character in the face of relentless Reds pressure while also feeling the tourists were hard done by with a couple of refereeing decisions.

Gatland told Sky Sports 2: "Pretty happy with that one.

"It was a tough game and the weather conditions didn't help. I thought we showed great character.

"They threw everything at us in the first 20 but we toughed it out. They just kept working hard.

"They keep digging for what was required. A couple of decisions didn't go our way but the boys stuck at it."

For Richie Gray, the pressure the Lions were forced to withstand will teach some good lessons with the first Test against Australia a fortnight away.

"It was a big step-up, we knew they would throw everything at us.

"The first 20 minutes maybe we didn't react as quick as we could have.

"We'll work on that that, it was a great game for us - gives us something to work on."

Reds captain Quade Cooper paid tribute to his side who were better in all areas of the field in the opening stages, something which was a deliberate ploy.

Cooper said: "It was the only way we could get an edge over them, running them around.

"I am very proud of the boys. We wanted to stick at things we do best, running things around and using our skill, we don't have the biggest backs.

"The Lions are a great team - we are not happy about losing but the effort we showed was great."

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