Lions battle to repair morale


Last updated at 07:13 13 November 2006

Great Britain returned to their Sydney base yesterday still wondering why their Gillette Tri-Nations plans suddenly went so badly wrong against New Zealand in Wellington.

The post-mortem into their heaviest defeat by the Kiwis, home or away, will begin on Monday as they try to repair morale before they face Australia again in a make or break game in Brisbane on Saturday.

Storm force Kiwis batter Lions into submission

There will be harsh words on the training ground but at least Brian Noble's players are not looking to hide behind excuses. Adrian Morley said: 'I have been on the end of a few disappointing defeats in a Lions jersey but this one was a real kick in the guts.

'I think we had our minds on last week, when we beat the Aussies, and thought we were already in the final. The Kiwis came out firing and we didn't know what hit us. We never got going, never completed our sets and seemed to go away from everything that brought us success. There can be no excuses.'

Great Britain captain Jamie Peacock, whose barnstorming performance in the second row constantly tried to shake the Lions out of their lethargy, was equally scathing.

'I have no explanation for the difference from last week. Things started going wrong very early. We dropped a couple of balls, missed a few tackles and our confidence was rocking.'

Peacock refused to accept that either the sin-binning of Leeds centre Keith Senior, for a spat with Kiwis centre Steve Matai, or the controversial 'no try' after winger Gareth Raynor had crashed over in the corner just before the break, contributed to the Lions' downfall.

New Zealand scored their first two tries while Senior was off the pitch, furious that one of the Kiwis trainers sprayed him with water during the incident with Matai. Senior said later: 'It was a dirty, disgusting trick.'

Raynor lost out to a video decision when Great Britain could have gone in 16-10 down at the break instead of 16-4. 'We have not had a decent call on this trip,' said Lions coach Noble.

'It was starting to go wrong before the brawl and certainly long before Gareth's "try" although bad calls can make or break you,' argued Peacock.

'It's still on for us to make the final so let's get ready for Brisbane and give it a shot. The alternative does not bear thinking about.'

Although the Kiwis, who have now beaten Great Britain twice but had two points deducted over the Nathan Fien 'ineligibility' affair, believe they have earned a place in the final, they don't trust their arch rivals to see off Great Britain.

But Kiwis coach Brian McClennan still plans to bring his squad to Sydney later this week and says they will be 'blowing up green and gold balloons all day Saturday and cheering for the Aussies'.

Great Britain, who have not won in Brisbane since 1962 or beaten Australia in back-to-back Tests for 36 years, knew the Kiwis would go for the jugular in Wellington.

What they did not expect was to capitulate so easily, conceding six tries to one and being turned inside out by the classic kicking game of Kiwis half-back Stacey Jones.

Great Britain scrum-half Sean Long has discussed terms with Australia head coach Ricky Stuart over a move to the Cronulla Sharks in 2008. Lions team-mate Adrian Morley is thought to have acted as a go-between for the Saint who is out of contract at the end of next season.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now