Ian McGeechan believes performance was more important than scoreline in Wednesday’s massacre of the Golden Lions.
74-10 looks good no matter how you spin it, and on the back of a shaky start against the Royal XV, McGeechan was clearly a happy man. The British & Irish Lions ran in 10 tries, but it was the way they destroyed their opponents that impressed the management.
‘I’m very satisfied,’ McGeechan said. ‘There was a lot more accuracy and lot of good tactical decision making. The pack played well and we created the space, and we finished well.
‘We’ve been good on the training field and it’s great to see it reflected on the [playing] field. It was a disciplined performance and the attitude was always first-class. The performance exceeded expectations.’
Both McGeechan and match captain Brian O’Driscoll agreed there is much hard work to be done, but both also praised the side for their efforts on attack. The fact that they didn’t concede any points in the second half was also a big plus.
‘It’s one of the most pleasing things about this performance,’ said O’Driscoll. ‘At half-time we were adamant we wanted to keep them scoreless.’
A few players, including O’Driscoll, left the field in the second stanza but McGeechan attributed this to minor niggles and cramp. The team to face the Cheetahs will be announced on Friday and Gordon D’Arcy could come into the reckoning as the availability of centre Riki Flutey is still unkonwn.
‘It’s an injury that needs to be constantly monitored and this is why we’ve called up Gordon as a back up,’ said McGeechan.
Most of the players that featured at Ellis Park may be rested for Saturday’s outing in Bloemfontein. There were many impressive individual performances in this win, but the Lions’ coach said the challenge is to keep evolving as a unit.
‘We kept playing for 80 minutes and that’s going to be a big challenge for the games before the Tests, never mind the Tests themselves.’
O’Driscoll added that South Africa is yet to see the best of the Lions.
‘We set a big standard with this win and I’m sure the guys that play on Saturday will look to set the bar even higher. We have to raise the bar with every game.
‘No one except Paulie [O'Connell] is guaranteed a Test place so we are going to be fighting for spots with every game. There’s a good buzz and a good competitive spirit within the team at the moment,’ he said.
By Jon Cardinelli,at Ellis Park