Best backs Poite for ‘touch and go’ call

Hen­der­son was sin­binned by ref­eree for a tip-tackle that proved costly

The National - News - Sport - - RUGBY UNION -

Rory Best re­fused to crit­i­cise ref­eree Ro­main Poite af­ter the Bri­tish & Ir­ish Lions were held to a 31-31 draw by the Hur­ri­canes in Welling­ton yes­ter­day.

Poite sent lock Iain Hen­der­son to the sin-bin for a tip-tackle on Jordie Bar­rett in the fi­nal quar­ter and the home team ran in two tries in his ab­sence.

“It was ob­vi­ously touch and go but when you’re be­ing of­fi­ci­ated by a qual­ity ref­eree like Ro­main Poite and he takes his time and goes to the TMO, you’ve got to trust that the guy has got it right,” Best told Sky Sports 1.

“The frus­trat­ing thing is that we had a penalty ad­van­tage there. Hendy was ab­so­lutely fabulous and that small er­ror. You could tell that he was dis­ap­pointed, but we’ve got to be big­ger than a yel­low card cost­ing us that many points. “It’s very frus­trat­ing. “They’re Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons and are a very good side. We’ll look back at the mis­takes we made that let them back into it and be frus­trated.

“I can­not fault the ef­fort. Maybe we needed to show more com­po­sure and be more clin­i­cal at times.” War­ren Gat­land pointed to Hen­der­son’s yel­low card to ex­plain the Lions’ in­abil­ity to win the match when lead­ing 31-17 with 14 min­utes left.

“The penal­ties we gave away were a bit soft and they al­lowed them back into it,” Gat­land said.

“We felt like we played some good rugby, but that yel­low card was a penalty to us and it ends up be­ing a penalty re­versed. “We had Hen­der­son off the field for 10 min­utes and con­ceded 14 points. To me that’s the game in a nut shell.”

Gat­land re­vealed he was re­luc­tant to use a bench pop­u­lated with con­tro­ver­sial call-ups be­cause the tour’s late ar­rivals had been sum­moned mainly to help pre­pare the Lions for the Test se­ries.

“We felt that the play­ers who came in, came in for cover. That’s what we’ve done. So we brought Ge­orge Kruis on for Court­ney Lawes and tried to pro­tect those play­ers .... ” Gat­land said. The coach con­ceded Hen­der­son and Court­ney Lawes had given him “food for thought” for se­lec­tion for Satur­day’s sec­ond Test against the All Blacks. Eng­land lock Lawes was buoyed to put him­self right back in the mix, hav­ing missed out on the 30-15 first Test loss.

“With Ed­die Jones with Eng­land we have a pretty hard regime and we’ve played some pretty tough tests, so I’m ready,” Lawes said.

Lawes was sub­sti­tuted on 53 min­utes in yes­ter­day’s draw, with the im­me­di­ate in­fer­ence that coach Gat­land with­drew the 28 year old to keep him fresh for the week­end.

Getty Im­ages

War­ren Gat­land.

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