DISCIPLINE: Jones urges Lions to avoid petty scuffles in decider
PA Andrew Miligan
Alun Wyn Jones insists the British and Irish Lions must not allow petty scuffles and poor discipline to further derail hopes of tour success in South Africa.
The Springboks set up Saturday evening’s crunch, winner-takes-all clash in Cape Town by grinding the Lions into submission during last weekend’s fragmented second Test.
Incessant stoppages aided the world champions after their preparations were affected by an outbreak of coronavirus while preventing the tourists from injecting any pace into a forgettable contest.
Lions captain Jones acknowledges the need to match the world champions’ formidable physicality but has warned it must not come at the expense of suffocating free-flowing rugby.
“They always happen but you don’t want to entertain them,” replied the Welshman when asked about handling flashpoints.
“There’s a case for not taking a step back but also an awareness in keeping the game flowing.
“You see finals, they can be attritional things but they can open up as well. I’d like to think we’re prepared for both.
“We were in it up until 60 minutes (last weekend) and then discipline probably cost us, so we want to have the ability to do both and be ready for both.
“We need to improve our set piece again, discipline obviously because the penalty count went against us, and try and maintain tempo in the game.
“If we can do that, we can stay away from anything that might slow us down.”
Lions coach Warren Gatland has already given his players strict instruction to avoid any niggle ahead of one of the biggest occasions of their careers.
Although South Africa’s fearsome reputation preceded them as they levelled proceedings at 1-1 thanks to a resounding 27-9 win, the Lions contributed fully to a catalogue of incidents that kept the officials busy.
While the Lions’ leadership has called for cool heads on match day, the intense nature of training sessions in the build up to Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated climax has remained unrelenting.
“We’ve had an edge in every week, I think it’s definitely here this week, since selection we’ve seen it and we’ve carried on in a similar vein throughout the week,” said 35-year-old Jones.
“I’d like to think we’ve prepped pretty well.
“Our Tuesday session was tasty again, displayed the edge that we’ve seen on similar occasions previously and that’s the best sort of prep we can have for these games.”
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