Now British & Irish Lions must finish the job, says captain Sam Warburton
Warren Gatland’s tourists keep series alive with thrilling 24-21 victory over world champion All Blacks in second test in Wellington
Captain Sam Warburton said Saturday’s second test win over New Zealand was far from mission accomplished for the British & Irish Lions, but warned his players they would need to raise their game again to finish the job next week.
The Lions levelled the three-match series at 1-1 with a gripping 24-21 victory over a New Zealand side reduced to 14 men for 55 minutes after centre Sonny Bill Williams was shown a red card for a shoulder charge to the head.
The tourists struggled to make the extra man count, however, and took the lead over the world champions for the first time in the match in the 78th minute when Owen Farrell kicked the winning penalty.
“Credit to New Zealand, to play for so long with 14 men, they did extremely well,” said the Welsh flanker, who was recalled to the starting line-up for the Wellington test.
“We just gotta remember next week, we’re more likely to be playing 15. It’s gonna be a big step up next week.”
It was a first defeat for the All Blacks on home soil in 48 tests going back eight years and a first victory for the Lions over New Zealand since 1993. It also kept alive their hopes of a first series triumph in New Zealand since 1971.
“It’s only half a job done, one apiece now,” Warburton added.
“It’s great we’ve got it to 1-1, we want to take it to a decider at Eden Park. There’s still plenty to work on, we gave away far too many penalties in the second half. We’ve got to up it again next week.”
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, whose team won the first test 30-15 last week, said there would be no panic in the All Blacks’ camp.
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“I’m incredibly proud of our blokes, to stay in with a side that good and still have a chance, we led for most of the way...” he said.
“Losing a guy has an effect but all credit to the Lions, they’ve got their test win and now we go to Auckland to find out who’s going to win the series.
“When you lose a player it takes a lot of stuffing out of us and we had to play for a long time without that player.
“But, the right team won on the day... we won’t panic, we’ll lick our wounds and take our medicine and move onto Auckland.”