BRITISH and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland is annoyed at the alleged time-wasting tactics employed by the Springboks in the second Test last weekend and will raise the issue with the match officials today.
The man in the middle for Saturday’s series decider is Frenchman Mathieu Raynal and he will be assisted by Nic Berry and Ben O’Keeffe, the men who refereed the first and second Tests respectively.
South African Marius Jonker is the television match official once more.
Since the Lions arrived on South African soil, they have attempted to play the game at a high tempo to exploit the skills of their backline players, and while they got it right against provincial opposition, they have found it tough to get going in the Test series.
Gatland is convinced the Boks are purposefully slowing the game down.
“I think there are two things there,” Gatland told an online press conference.
“One is looking to keep the ball and also talking to officials about making sure that we keep the game flowing.
“We felt like that at every scrum there was an injury, which slowed the game down.
“I think there were something like 14 minutes of TMO time in the game and we’ve worked pretty hard from a conditioning point of view (to be able to play a fast game), but it was really, really stop-start and that made it frustrating for us.
“It would help if players weren’t going down for injuries on a regular basis and stopping play.
“We had stud changes, we had TMO decisions, we had the referee stopping the game for cramp,” the irritated Gatland continued.
“So that will be one of the things I talk to the referees about. We need to make sure we don’t have 60-odd-minute halves.
“It was very frustrating for us and particularly for (captain) Alun Wyn (Jones) on the weekend. He was talking to the referee on a number of occasions asking him to speed up.
“It’s definitely not to our advantage and we need to work on that and make sure that we keep up that tempo this weekend.”
The goal of a fast-paced game is also why Gatland has recalled nippy scrumhalf Ali Price, fullback Liam Williams and wing Josh Adams, who is the leading try-scorer on the tour with eight touchdowns.
“You want that flow in the game and we’ve seen from other games that when we’ve had that tempo we’ve played some really good rugby,” Gatland said.
“We want to keep the tempo of the game up to get the ball in at our scrums and get the ball in quickly at line-outs, to play and to get a flow.
“And South Africa at the moment don’t want to do that. Everything is so stop-start that it does make it frustrating.”