Jones hails 'incredible' Lions victory
July 6, 2013
Alun-Wyn Jones hails fighting spirit%]
Stand-in captain Alun-Wyn Jones struggled to put his delight into words following the British & Irish Lions' 41-16 hammering of Australia in Sydney on Saturday night.
Warren Gatland's men held off a gutsy Wallabies comeback to secure a first Lions series win since 1997 - and a first over the hosts since 1989. The victory also put the debate over the non-selection of Brian O'Driscoll to bed, and Jones was pleased that rugby had taken over as the main talking point.
"It's a pretty indescribable feeling," he told Sky Sports. "A lot has been said about the selections but we just want to thank the fans. I think we proved, despite the selections, that the northern hemisphere is doing pretty well.
"On Wednesday and Thursday we had the two worst training sessions of the seven weeks we've been here, but we fronted up today. We represented our four countries with pride. We wanted to win the collisions and the breakdown and it came down to that today."
Aside from O'Driscoll's omission, the hot topic of the week had been Australia captain James Horwill's inclusion. He was twice cleared of stamping and took to the field tonight, but could not stop the tide of red which washed over his side.
"We made too many errors early on and gave them a head start," he said. "We started the second half well but we let them get away, give them credit. We just weren't good enough tonight. We let ourselves down and we need to be better."
Jones led the Lions in the absence of the injured Sam Warburton, but his fellow Welshman joined him on the field at the end to collect the trophy for the series win.
"Unlucky to you Australian boys," Warburton said. "It's been an immense Test series. To our boys, a massive well done. We worked hard for this. To the fans, who spent thousands of pounds to come here, you've made our tour."
For Jonny Sexton, a try-scorer today, the key was getting plenty of ball in Australia's half. He said: "We knew we had it in us, in the first couple of Tests we didn't have the chance to attack but tonight we did."
Sexton also praised Jones, adding: "He was brilliant. He stepped up and didn't let that affect him."
The Irishman also said: "We wanted to do that for Brian O'Driscoll and give him a send off."
Jamie Roberts also crossed the line and he said: "We spoke about keeping our heads and played some really clinical rugby. It was straight down the line tonight and our scrum was dominant."
The metronomic goal-kicking of Leigh Halfpenny was one of the highlights of the series and he spoke of how he enjoyed performing in front of the travelling fans. He said: "I can't thank them enough. They were outstanding and I have dreamed of this my whole life."
For Gatland, it was a vindication of the unpopular decision he made to omit O'Driscoll. The New Zealander was not interested in saying 'I told you so', though.
"It's pretty immense. The last four days have been hard, I had to take a tough call to leave Brian out," he admitted. "It's been a hard few days and this is a massive performance.
"You always doubt decisions, but you make those hard calls. We knew there would be a fall-out. I took the flak and have taken it. It's not about that, I don't want to gloat. It was a tough call but it's about the boys, a winning series."
The form of wing George North has been another highlight and he scored his fourth try of the tour today. "It's been a long season. The first two Tests weren't the best but today we played the way we wanted," he said. "It finishes a long season with what we were after as a squad and this is all credit to Warren Gatland."
O'Driscoll was not involved but ends his Lions career with a first series win in four attempts. He said: "I'm delighted, it's been a rollercoaster week for me but it's all about being a part of it for me. I will always have it on my CV and the negatives will be forgotten. Huge credit goes to the players, the management and staff."
The scoring today was opened by Alex Corbisiero, who pulled through despite a calf injury. He said: "I've got thank the medics, especially Phil Pask who worked with me night and day for the last 10 days or so to make sure I got it right and I'm really grateful that it was actually fine today."
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