McMillan proud of NZ Provincial Baabaas effort

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Lynn McConnell     04 Jun 2017     Getty Images

The Lions had put them under intense pressure, especially in the second half, but they had continued to try to play their game.
McMillan said not many people had given them a chance but with a couple of minutes left in the game they were still in it.

"I was incredibly proud of our lads for fronting up and staying true to the game that we always said we were going to play," he said.

McMillan acknowledged the efforts of defence coach Joe Maddock and was delighted with the scrambled defence the side had managed.

"That real dogged determination not to have them score points was probably the defining thing from our game. We just wanted to stay in the fight for the whole game," he said.

The Lions would have been disappointed not to have achieved a lot of things they would have wanted out of the game but he felt they were still showing the effects of their travel.

And the Barbarians were something of an unknown factor for them compared to the other teams they will face and for whom they would have some video footage to work on which they didn't for his side.

"It wasn't what they were looking for I would imagine, but it wasn't terminal," he said.

He also acknowledged the play of first five-eighths Bryn Gatland who had been in the unusual situation of playing against a side coached by his father Warren. But throughout the week of preparation Gatland had handled things like a true professional and he felt he had an especially good game.

Captain Sam Anderson-Heather said it had been a big night but was still disappointing.

"I've always believed from day one that we could have won this game and we had an opportunity but full credit to the Lions they made the most of their opportunities and we weren't just quite good enough on the night," he said.

The challenge for the side had been to come together quickly and to build on that. He knew only one other player in the side, and most didn't each other. But the coaches had worked hard to ensure everyone was on song and the biggest galvanising factor for the team was the desire to go out and play for their mates alongside them.

One of the areas where they did excel was in scrummaging as they held their own against the best the Lions could throw at them.

They had worked on it hard during the week and again, it had been about their mindset and not thinking they weren't going to be good enough so they could feel good about themselves.

They had also talked to their loose forwards and watched footage from Test matches and the like which showed the teams that had their loose forward pop up early who had the toughest time in scrums.

"The first job for them was to scrum and they did an awesome job, they gave us heaps and heaps through the scrum and we were able to hold. I don't think we dominated at all but we really held our own and we were able to use that as a platform," he said.