Gatland expects 'hurt' Springboks to come back stronger after Cape Town defeat

By Sports Desk July 24, 2021

Warren Gatland knows South Africa will be "hurt" by their defeat to the British and Irish Lions in the first Test and expects the world champions to bounce back stronger.

The Lions roared back in the second half of a brutal contest at Cape Town Stadium to win 22-17 after going in at the break trailing 12-3.

Luke Cowan-Dickie crashed over just after the interval before Dan Biggar took his tally from the tee to 14 points and Owen Farrell added a late penalty.

Faf de Klerk scored a somewhat contentious try soon after Cowan-Dickie touched down, while South Africa felt a Willie le Roux try - which was ruled out for offside - should have been allowed to stand.

Damian de Allende also had a second-half score chalked off a knock-on, while Handre Pollard - who booted 12 points - missed a conversion attempt and a penalty as the Springboks' seven-match winning run came to an end.

Lions head coach Gatland told Sky Sports: "They will be hurt from this because they are an incredibly proud nation and world champions.

"The message to the players, it wasn't just about the 23. This is an incredibly tight group of players and the non-23 did a good job this week of helping prepare. The victory was about the whole squad."

He added: "A bounce of the ball could have gone either way, and a couple of calls as well.

"If they had been different it might have affected the result. We are happy with how we defended and we don't think they created a lot of attacking opportunities.

"Winning the game means, whatever happens, the series will go to the last weekend which keeps everyone engaged."

South Africa's preparation for the three-match series has been badly affected by coronavirus cases in the camp and this was only their second Test since winning the 2019 World Cup.

New Zealander Gatland thinks they will be a different proposition next Saturday.

"They have had their own challenges with players not taking a full part in training," he said.

"A little like us, with two games a week it is quite hard to prepare for an international. I expect that they will be a lot stronger in the next two matches."

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