McGeechan pleased with tough Lions win
June 13, 2009
James Hook's boot proved to be the difference in Cape Town © Getty Images
Lions Head Coach Ian McGeechan was pleased with the way his players were gelling despite the rotation policy he has used in the five matches on tour so far after they beat Western Province 26-23 in Cape Town.
The Lions were indebted to replacement James Hook who scored the winning penalty-kick in the dying moments with the scores level at 23-23 - having missed one from a similar distance minutes earlier.
"It was a good game of rugby and I am pleased to come out of it winning. We always knew this would be probably be the strongest team we'd faced so far," said McGeechan. "Maybe we tried to play a bit too much rugby at times. It was blustery with a wet ball, which meant there was always going to be a high error-count.
"You can't underestimate the conditions, or the opposition, who were really intent on making it difficult. Our lineout and scrum is going very well and our breakdown work today was very pleasing. We could have had a bit more patience with our kicking game, but the attitude of the players and focus on the field when it is coming down to the wire shows how much winning means to us.
"But we know next week is going to be a different level again. There are going to be some tough selection calls. We've got to where we are now and we have got one game left before the first Test match. Whatever warm-up games you have got, they are not Test matches."
Skipper Phil Vickery paid tribute to Hook - claiming that as soon as he struck the ball he knew it had the required legs to win the game.
"Credit to James," said Vickery. "As soon as you saw the contact he made, you knew he had the distance. It was a great honour to captain the Lions and I am just pleased the guys pulled it through. Western Province fought to the very end. They never gave up, as you would expect.
"The only thing that bothered me was winning the game. It was about making sure of that. We had to go out and win that game. We didn't get it all our own way, and it says a huge amount. A week today is the reason why we are here - a Test match - and I just hope we go out and do ourselves justice."