DAN BIGGAR: The British and Irish Lions’ series decider vs South Africa next week is a cup final
That was one of the toughest second-halves that I have ever been involved with. We got completely dominated after half-time. Nothing went our way, and there was no momentum swing at all back to us.
In that last 10 minutes, we were forcing the game. If you don’t win the first few collisions, it feels like you’re being suffocated against South Africa. Pressure is constantly on you and it feels like you’re forcing the game.
We didn’t win anything and, when the scoreboard is against you, their game comes to the fore.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that we were second best to the Springboks
Alun Wyn Jones spoke in the team huddle at the end and said that Warren Gatland has got some big calls to make this week about what he does with the team for the decider.
He said he may well make changes and it’s now about a squad effort to get this over the line. Next week is a cup final for us. We’re lucky that we’ve got another shot to create history.
If you’re winning all the time, selection takes care of itself. If you get a disappointing performance like that then everyone’s going to be on edge a little, naturally.
It was pretty quiet dressing room after the game. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that we came off second best and didn’t fire any shots.
Our reserves were tapping guys on the back and asking if we need anything but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves for too long. Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and admit we were beaten by a much better side.
Captain Alun Wyn Jones (centre) spoke in the huddle about what we need to do to improve
The game was a tough old slog. It was such a stop-start affair. The first half lasted 64 minutes and that suits them. Rest. Set piece. Rest. Set piece. It dragged on.
I looked up at the clock and it felt like we’d played an hour but only 24 minutes had gone. At half-time, it was exactly how we wanted it — 9-6 up and unlucky not to be 13-6, with Robbie Henshaw’s try disallowed.
I knew there would be a lot of kicking. The big focus this week was starting the game better than the first Test and getting an early lead — which we did manage.
However, once they get ahead, South Africa are good at sitting on leads and forcing the opposition to play a little bit.
There was lots of needle but I enjoy those feisty moments. When it kicked off, I picked on Faf de Klerk rather than Eben Etzebeth or Franco Mostert!
At half-time, it was exactly how we wanted it — 9-6 up and unlucky not to be 13-6, with Robbie Henshaw’s try disallowed
Faf was commentating on everything, but we tried not to get dragged into it. There are some big boys out there who were pumped up, ragging each other about.
We just needed to find another gear but they tightened up, dominated the air and went to their set-piece mauling game — and our discipline went in the second half. We gave away 15 penalties in the end, when it was nine last week.
We didn’t want to give them any get-out-of-jail-free cards because defeat would leave the third Test down to the flip of a coin. They want you to overplay, concede a penalty and give them three points.
In the week, Gats made us feel like a million dollars. He’s normally quite laid-back and relaxed, but this week it reminded me of the build-up to our 2015 World Cup game against England.
Coach Warren Gatland might well have to make some changes for the final Test next weekend
There were subtle messages around the team room. He would walk up to guys at breakfast and say: ‘We can’t lose on Saturday. They’re not good enough to beat us. We will win on Saturday.’
We were desperate to get the job done and stepped onto that pitch thinking it would be extremely difficult for us to lose.
We felt that if we could keep it close at half time, we would have a fitness advantage in the second half but, unfortunately, that didn’t materialise.
After that defeat we have now got three days off to break things up. On Monday we’re going whale watching. Then after that well-needed break all eyes will be on completing the job next week.
Rassie Erasmus’ hour-long video reminded me of that Rafa Benitez rant at Liverpool when chasing Manchester United to the Premier League title in 2009, speaking about ‘facts’ for 20 minutes.
We just left him to crack on this week. It’s a mad video. The boys watched bits of it on the bus but nobody watched the full thing.
Our media guy, Tim Percival, didn’t want us to give it any air time. We get told not to interact with it on social media.
Rassie Erasmus’ bizarre refereeing complaints reminded me of that Rafa Benitez ‘facts’ rant!
People like Eddie Jones use those sort of tactics. And it means people end up talking about what the coach is saying rather than picking apart a poor result. It’s impossible not to pick up on it but, from my point of view, I don’t read into it.
The Munster boys say he was an excellent coach. He’s won a World Cup so he deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done.
There have been a few headlines about my head injury this week. It’s all been treated properly.
You’ve obviously got to be ultra-cautious but I felt 100 per cent fine to play. I had an independent concussion specialist examine me on Zoom and did everything by the book.
I felt fine to play after my head injury, but the return to play process is definitely interesting
The return to play process is interesting. I had to do a bike session on Monday, running on Tuesday with some integrated walk-throughs and cognitive tests.
Things like memory tests, where you read 10 words on a sheet of paper and have to recall them, and being read a series of numbers and then reciting them backwards… A few of the boys would struggle to pass it if they hadn’t had a bump to the head!
Off the pitch, the boys not involved set up a Castle Lager bar in the team room and had a poker tournament.
Jonny Hill won. It’s not easy to be in the non-playing group, as I experienced in 2017. Marcus Smith and Louis Rees-Zammit, the youngsters, are the bartenders! I don’t think they enjoy it too much!