- Jamie Heaslip knows Lions must play in right areas in third and final Test
- "It's winner takes all, that's why you play rugby" – Ireland No.8
Jamie Heaslip believes the British and Irish Lions will need to play their rugby in the right areas of the field to stand any chance of sealing the series at the second attempt this weekend.
Holding a slender 12-9 lead at half time of Saturday’s second Test, the Lions struggled to assert themselves in the second period – as evidenced by a return of just 33 per cent possession and 31 per cent territory over the final 40 minutes.
Forced into making almost double the amount of tackles as the Wallabies (140 to 71) in the 16-15 defeat in Melbourne, the shattered tourists eventually paid for failing to relieve the relentless pressure when Adam Ashley-Cooper went over in the final stages.
Photo: Getty Images
And though full back Leigh Halfpenny did have a chance win a first series in 16 years with a 53-metre penalty after the final hooter, Heaslip insisted that his side should not have had to rely on their prodigious goal-kicker.
“It shouldn’t have come down to that kick,” said the Ireland No.8. “We defended for a large portion of the game and they put us under a lot of pressure.
“We didn’t get into their half a lot or get to play our shape that much, which is a credit to them I suppose. It felt like we played a lot of footy in the middle of the field but didn’t have any possession, which was a weird one.
“That’s what we knew we were going get and now we’ve got to regroup for next week and go again.”
Photo: Getty Images
Having de-camped to Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for three days of rehabilitation, Warren Gatland’s party must delve deep to overturn an undoubted momentum shift – compounded by the news this morning that inspirational skipper Sam Warburton will miss the decider because of a hamstring tear.
But Heaslip suggested that the prospect of a grand finale in Sydney, where the Lions have won 8 of 12 matches in their history, could reinvigorate tired bodies for one last push.
“These Test games take a lot out of you, as does the tour, so this time off is important. We’ll go away, get a little bit of sun on ourselves, put our feet up and relax a bit.
“We’ll obviously do our reviews and analysis and we’ve got a massive task next Saturday – it’s knockout football, winner takes all.
“That’s why you play rugby, though, you want to play in those big games.”