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'Direct' NZ deserved the win, says Gatland as he promises breakdown improvement for second Test

The Kiwi says there are easy fixes after today’s 15-point loss.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

LIONS HEAD COACH Warren Gatland said he had no complaints about New Zealand’s 30 – 15 win in this morning’s first Test in Auckland, but also highlighted the direct approach of Steve Hansen’s side.

Continually criticised for his uber-physical ‘Warrenball’ approach to international rugby, Gatland unleashed a side who tried to play expansive rugby in Auckland, and succeeded in running in a sensational try finished by Sean O’Brien after Liam Williams stepped Kieran Read in his own 22.

That proved to be the high point for the tourists though as the world champions mixed a robust pack effort with supreme skills and the speed of Rieko Ioane to finish off chances.

“The message was: there’s things we can fix”, Gatland told Sky Sports after emerging from the dressing room. The Wales coach added that it was too early to think about changing the personnel of the starting side for next weekend’s second Test.

“We switched off for a quick tap on a try (by Codie Taylor). The ball drops through Liam (Williams’) hands and Ioane’s scored. A scrum penalty and an advantage… that was disappointing.

Peter O'Mahony is tackled by Sonny Bill Williams Source: Photosport/Peter Meecham/INPHO

“Listen, no complaints in terms of the result. The All Blacks were very direct off nine,  ran really hard, were better than us at the breakdown and we missed a number of opportunities. They’re all things we can fix pretty quickly.”

He added: “We created some chances, shifted the ball well and as I said, they didn’t come out and play champagne rugby they were very, very direct. Credit to them, they dominated us in that area. We were looking to get the upper hand up front and in fairness they got it.”

Asked specifically about the breakdown, where the tourists were unable to reap much clean ball to attack off, Gatland outlined the drills his Test players would be working on while others are preparing to meet the Hurricanes in Wellington on Tuesday.

“We’ve got to be much more aggressive clearing past the ball, making sure we don’t have separation between the carrier and the next guy clearing out. That’s something w need to work on hard during the week.

“They deserved to win that, but there are things there we can work on in the week and definitely improve. Take opportunities, chances and improve things at the breakdown.”

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