Lions must be more creative to win series, stresses Townsend

British & Irish Lions assistant coach Gregor Townsend said on Friday that they must be more creative if they hope to win the series-deciding third Test against South Africa this weekend.

After a narrow first Test win, the Lions took an 18-point hammering last weekend, raising the possibility of the Springboks becoming the first winners of a series between the teams after losing the opener.

Scot Townsend, in charge of attack under head coach Warren Gatland, was blunt in his assessment during an eve-of-match online news conference.

“We have got to create more, that is for sure. If you create opportunities, that gives you a better chance of winning the game.

“You may create through linebreaks, through pressure, through tiring opponents, through getting penalties.

“We did that [forcing penalties] well in the first Test, especially in the second half. We were building into that sort of performance in the first half of the second Test, but we did not do it for 80 minutes.

“We know that we have to control the game more by moving South Africa around, draining them of energy whenever we can. That will be an area where we focus, for sure.”

The Lions have scored only one try in two Tests – a pushover score credited to hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie after an early second-half lineout in the first.

Townsend was satisfied with the second Test performance of flyhalf Dan Biggar, who was criticised for passing the ball just three times last weekend.

“We kicked a few times in the Springbok half,” he told reporters. “Sometimes that brought a reward and sometimes it did not.

“In the first half we felt we were getting a lot of momentum by playing off our scrumhalf. When you are playing off your No 9, obviously the flyhalf is not going to touch the ball too often.

“In terms of a half of rugby, we were pretty pleased with a lot of work going on, but we could have moved the ball more.

“We could have taken the opportunities when we got in the 22 … come alive a bit more. But it was a half where Dan made really good decisions.

“Dan did not play a huge amount in the second half, so if we are looking at a passing stat, he obviously did not play 80 minutes and in that second half we did not get much ball.

“But whether a flyhalf passes a lot or not is not necessarily a good or a bad thing – we want our flyhalves to take on this blitz defence, too.

“So people are rushing up on the outside. You can play round it, you can play between it or you can take it on as a first receiver and Dan did that well a couple of times.”

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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Dylan Jack