McGeechan upbeat despite draw
June 23, 2009
Winger Shane Williams enjoyed a mixed game at Newlands © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan maintained that his side had "dodged a banana skin" despite being held to a 13-13 draw by the Emerging Springboks at Newlands in Cape Town.
The Lions let slip a 10-0 lead in torrential conditions, with the game lacking the intensity and the happy ending that the Lions required ahead of their vital second Test meeting with the Springboks in Pretoria on Saturday.
"It was a potential banana skin we have got through," said McGeechan. "It was a game we had to get out of. It was a million miles from what we want at the weekend. The conditions were always going to be a leveller. Not a lot of rugby was played there.
"It was disappointing to give a try away at the end, but I thought our attitude on the field was superb. It was a very strong defensive performance, if you take the last minute away."
Munster fly-half Ronan O'Gara captained the Lions but was withdrawn after only four minutes of the second-half, James Hook taking his place as the duo went head to head in a bid to win Test recognition. The Lions management meets on Wednesday to select their side.
"The conditions were up there with the worst I have experienced," said O'Gara. "We wanted to push management for selection for the weekend but we didn't really get that opportunity. We had to temper the gameplan. We needed to get one score further ahead. I don't think we felt under threat by this team tonight - but they came at us in the end.
"The mood is disappointed. There is a realisation some guys won't play again on this tour, and it will hurt."
Winger Shane Williams also had hopes of pressing his claims ahead of the game but found it difficult in the greasy conditions.
"The hunger's still there. I worked hard enough in training and games. But it hasn't gone my way - and after last year, maybe that was the way it was going to go," he said. "We should have won. For them to have drawn in the last minute is quite a kick in teeth. Maybe the draw was what they deserved in the game."
Emerging Springboks captain Dewald Potgieter said, "I'm elated. We had only four training sessions and it was a great effort by a special group. You all saw the celebrations on the field. It feels like we won the game."
When the Lions toured South Africa in 1974, some thought rugby could break down barriers. But John Taylor refused to make the trip altogether
"I think in a couple of seasons London Irish can be a genuine force and contenders for the Premiership." Tom Hamilton talks to Brian Smith
"I hate this talk of survival, we are going there to compete." Tom Hamilton talks to London Welsh's Justin Burnell and Matt Corker
The latest Week in Pictures takes in Madagascar, Nick Cummins and all the latest photographs from Super Rugby