Monday 20 November 2017

Warburton buzzing after perfect dress rehearsal for the Wallabies

British & Irish Lions' Sam Warburton after the game
British & Irish Lions' Sam Warburton after the game
British and Irish Lions player Jamie Roberts is assisted off the ground by a team trainer after being injured
British & Irish Lions' Sam Warburton gets tackled by NSW Waratahs Bernard Foley

Sam Warburton believes today's 47-17 victory over a tough Waratahs team provided the perfect preparation for the British and Irish Lions' first Test match against Australia.

Leigh Halfpenny produced a commanding performance as the unbeaten Lions delivered their best display Down Under just seven days before tackling the Wallabies.

Wales full-back Halfpenny scored 30 points - two tries, four conversions and four penalties - while fly-half Jonathan Sexton, flanker Tom Croft and centre Jonathan Davies also added touchdowns to complete an outstanding team performance.

The Waratahs played their part - centre Tom Carter claimed two tries - but they were ultimately outclassed, with Halfpenny finishing just seven short of equalling the all-time individual Lions points record set by Alan Old in 1974.

Warburton told Sky Sports 1: "The Waratahs were really tough and I don't think the score reflected the way they played, but we definitely stepped up and I knew we had to.

"I thought the forwards did a great job and the backs were very clinical so I'm very pleased with the performance.

"From watching the Waratahs we knew they were very similar to us and very direct.

After tackling Super Rugby side Brumbies in Canberra on Tuesday night, the Lions head to Brisbane.

"That's the bit we're most looking forward to and next week is going to be massive," Warburton added. "Australia are an intensely tough side to play and it's going to be a challenge on Saturday.

"But we first go into the game against the Brumbies and it's going to be another tough one for us so until that game's over we just have to think about that.

"Next week we'll have an edge as there will be more fans in Brisbane and it will be game on."

Tahs captain Dave Dennis, who was especially pleased to see over 41,000 fans pack Sydney's Allianz Stadium, said: "We hung in there and I thought we played some good rugby. They're a quality team and we knew what we needed to do to go to that next level as a squad.

"It was a great experience for a young team. You get one chance to play in that game in your career so they didn't leave much out there.

"It was very good but we just need to tighten up a few areas. But I hope our fans are proud of the performance.

"It's going to be a tough first Test and they're doing quite well so it's going to be physical and a tough Test.

"It was a special experience for me and for all of the boys to run out here in front of the fans and we're really trying to move forward as a club so the support means a lot to us."

Despite a confidence-boosting performance, there was a fresh injury concern for Lions coach Warren Gatland, who watched centre Jamie Roberts struggling on the Sydney pitch.

Gatland said: "I think he's torn a bit of a hamstring but I'm not 100 per cent sure, I haven't spoken to the medics and we've had a couple of (injuries) already so I'll just have to wait to get back in the changing rooms.

"It was a great crowd and I'm really pleased. They put it up to us physically and the boys responded extremely well so I thought the performance was out of the top drawer.

"I'm really proud of the performance. The boys just kept working hard for the full 80 minutes and the impact coming off the bench was excellent.

"It's a really happy squad out there at the moment and the boys are all egging each other on and it's nice to be part of it.

"You're always disappointed when you concede a try or two so there are a few things to work on. But generally I'm pretty pleased."

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