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Lions chase history

Gatland ignores Scots again for decisive third Test

Warren Gatland

Gatland: unchanged side (Photo: Terry Murden).

The Scottish contingent in the British and Irish Lions squad will once again be reduced to the role of fans after Warren Gatland named an unchanged team and bench for the third and decisive Test against New Zealand on Saturday.

The coach has kept faith with the men who won 24-21 in Wellington last weekend, the selection meaning they will field the same starting XV in consecutive Tests for the first time since 1993.

It also consigns Greig Laidlaw, Tommy Seymour together with late call-ups Finn Russell and Alan Dell to the sidelines once again, with not a single Scot having played a part in any of the three Tests.

Victory on Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland – where the All Blacks have not lost since 1994 – would give the Lions only their second ever series win in New Zealand.

“It is not very often on a Lions tour that you get to pick the same 23 for the following game,” said Gatland.

“We felt we should reward the players for the result and the courage that they showed in coming from behind from 18-9 down, digging themselves out of a hole and then finishing strongly in that last 10 to 15 minutes.

“There are some players who are pretty disappointed not to be selected and I understand that.

“It is what you would expect from competitive top athletes, they back themselves. But they have put their disappointment behind them and are helping the match day squad prepare.

“We are all aware of how big this game is and we are expecting a backlash from the All Blacks.

“But the pleasing thing about the second Test is just how strong we were in the last 10 or 15 minutes, in terms of energy and enthusiasm so we still feel there is another level in us.

“This is a huge chance for this group of players to show their abilities and reap the benefits of the work everyone has put in. It is their chance to make Lions history.”

Lions: Liam Williams (Wales); Anthony Watson (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Elliot Daly (England); Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland); Mako Vunipola (England), Jamie George (England) Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales) Sam Warburton (capt, Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

Replacements: Ken Owens (Wales), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Kyle Sinckler (England), Courtney Lawes (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Rhys Webb (Wales), Ben Te’o (England), Jack Nowell (England)

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett; Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Kieran Read.

Replacements: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa.

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