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Gatland says Kolbe tackle 'didn't look great' as he bemoans Lions' second half

The Springboks were by far the better team after the break in Cape Town.

Kolbe was shown a yellow card in the first half.
Kolbe was shown a yellow card in the first half.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

LIONS BOSS WARREN Gatland bemoaned his side’s second-half performance after they were well beaten by the Springboks on a 27-9 scoreline.

It was the Lions’ heaviest defeat since their disastrous 2005 tour of New Zealand and it came despite the tourists leading 9-6 at half-time in Cape Town.

Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks were dominant in the second half as they came out on top of the set-piece and aerial battles, with their ‘bomb squad’ bench making a huge impact, while the South Africans also scored two excellent tries.

“The second half, we just didn’t get into it, no momentum, that was disappointing,” said Gatland.

“The players are very disappointed and next Saturday is a cup final and that is how we have to look at it and prepare. They put a huge amount of emotion into that, but we have a chance next week to hopefully tidy the series up.”

There were a number of difficult decisions for referee Ben O’Keeffe following the fractious build-up to this Test, with Springboks wing Cheslin Kolbe lucky to avoid a red card in the first half. Kolbe was shown yellow for his tackle in the air on Conor Murray, who appeared to land down onto his face after the illegal challenge.

However, O’Keeffe said Murray had landed on his back and opted only to sin-bin Kolbe.

Gatland opted against going into great detail but did indicate that he felt the decision had been incorrect.

“I won’t comment on the referee’s decisions,” said Gatland. “We will have our meeting and see what the assessors come back with in terms of their decisions. It didn’t look great from where I was, but he decided it was a yellow card.”

alun-wyn-jones-after-the-game-with-maro-itoje Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Itoje after the Lions' defeat. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While they were also the better team, the Boks did appear to get more luck with the big calls this week – the Lions having done so in the first Test – and it’s likely that Erasmus will feel his high-profile video review of Nic Berry’s performance in the opening Test had some influence on the match officials.

Gatland expressed his hope that there is nothing similar this week on Vimeo or Twitter.

“I hope it doesn’t get to a situation where we end up with things on Twitter and not through the proper channels,” said Gatland.

“I found it quite strange that approach was taken. It’s definitely not something I will get involved in, it’s important we keep the integrity in the game as much as we can.

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“We’ve got systems and processes in place and hopefully World Rugby does look at that in terms of making sure that everyone follows the protocols and I think that’s important.

“We do press conferences and try and give feedback and information and we deal with the referees through World Rugby. That’s the process.

“I don’t want to comment on that as I will let other people take care of it – the last thing we need is a war of words and being accused of doing certain things.

“I didn’t make one comment on the TMO [before the first Test], yet I was accused of questioning his integrity, we will keep things to ourselves.”

This evening’s game lasted over two hours and 10 minutes, making it a difficult watch at times. The slow pace suited the Springboks and Gatland expressed his hope that next weekend’s third Test will be different.

“The game was very slow and they did a good job of slowing it down – it was difficult to get that rhythm,” said Gatland. “The ref was talking about trying to speed it up and it is something we will look at raising.”

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