Gatland admits sin bin for 'exceptional' Henderson was game's turning point

The British and Irish Lions head coach said his side also need to improve on their big game management

BY Cian Roche 13:15 Tuesday 27 June 2017, 13:15 27 Jun 2017

Image: David Davies/PA Wire/PA Images

Warren Gatland admits Iain Henderson's second-half sin-bin was instrumental in allowing Super Rugby champions Hurricanes to execute a late comeback against the British and Irish Lions. 

The tourists coughed up a 14-point lead in Wellington to draw 31-31 in their last game before their final two Test matches with the All Blacks.

Speaking after the game, Gatland pointed to the yellow card issued by referee Romain Poite as the moment that changed to game.

"We felt we played some good rugby, but that yellow card which was a penalty to us, ended up being a penalty reverse," he told Sky Sports. "Henderson ends up off the pitch for 10 minutes and 14 points. That's the game in a nutshell for me."

Commenting on the performance and what needs to improve in before heading into the second Test against the All Blacks, Gatland explained what aspects of their game needed attention.

"A bit of big-game management and some of the penalties that were given away were a bit soft. We allowed them back into it."

Bar the yellow card, Gatland was otherwise complimentary of Henderson's performance.

"He carried really well for us, he was held up short on the line and we might have felt that he had gotten there.

"That's nine times so far that we've been held up on the line or over the line and not been awarded the try. That's been frustrating, but he's carried exceptionally well."

Addressing criticisms as to why he didn't use substitutes in the closing minutes of the game, Gatland said: "We felt the players that have come [to the panel] did so for cover. We brought George Kruis on for Courtney Lawes and we tried to protect those players.

"We wanted to give as much protection to the potential Test 23 as possible."

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