British & Irish Lions lock Maro Itoje has explained how they recomposed themselves at half time in the first Test against the Springboks and managed an incredible comeback to claim victory.
The Lions went into the half-time break this past Saturday 12-3 down, with the Springboks winning the physical collisions, forcing the tourists into errors, and enjoying the better of the territory battle.
However, in a remarkable tactical turnaround the Lions outscored their opponents 19-7 in the second half to win the first of the three-Test series.
Speaking after the match, Itoje explained that there was no sense of panic in the Lions dressing room during the interval and they knew they couldn’t continue playing the way they did in the first half.
“Often when you’re in that situation you have two choices – either continue what you’re doing and just watch the scoreboard get away from you, or put up your sleeves and try and turn it around,” said Itoje. “We tried to do the latter and fortunately for us it was successful.
“In the first half, we came out with a decent intensity but not probably the intensity we needed to. But, most importantly, or to our detriment, we were giving away a lot of silly penalties, we weren’t really being as disciplined as we needed to be. And the second half we just flipped it on its head, we came out with a higher intensity and we kept our discipline a lot more and as a result we were able to put more pressure on them.”
The Springboks have spoken about coming back stronger to level the series in the second Test.
However, Itoje also insists that there is another level to come from the Lions as well.
“There’s so much growth in this team,” Itoje added. “Game by game we’re getting better, we’re learning lessons, so I think there is more to come from us but the onus is on us to look at what we’ve done.
“Obviously, this was a great win but I’m a man who likes to look at history and see how other tours have unfolded. Looking at the 2001 Tests in Australia, they won the first Test quite convincingly and then went on to lose the next two. We’re happy but we know that we need to be better next week, stronger. The Springboks, we know they are coming.”
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