Lions 2017: Gatland a 'happy clown' after levelling the series

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Lions 2017: Gatland a 'happy clown' after levelling the series

Lions 2017: Gatland a 'happy clown' after levelling the series

Warren Gatland said he was a "pretty happy clown" after the British and Irish Lions mounted a roaring fightback to beat New Zealand in a gripping second Test in Wellington.

The New Zealand Herald published a cartoon depicting Gatland as a red-nosed clown this week after the Lions head coach accused the world champions of illegally targeting scrum-half Conor Murray in the first Test.

It was Gatland who was laughing on Saturday, though, having watched his side take advantage of Sonny Bill Williams' first-half red card for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson to win 24-21 at Westpac Stadium and set up a decider at Eden Park next weekend.

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Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray scored tries in the last 20 minutes and Owen Farrell settled it with a penalty three minutes from time as the world champions' 47-match winning run on home soil came to a dramatic end.

Seven penalties from Beauden Barrett had given the All Blacks a 21-14 lead with 12 minutes to play, but Gatland expressed his pride with the way the Lions responded after being outplayed in Auckland last week.

He told Sky Sports: "I'm a pretty happy clown this week. It's great to tie the series up and we go to Auckland next week with everything to play for.

"Even with the red and yellow card [for Mako Vunipola after the break] I thought we were the better team.

"In the last 10 minutes I was impressed with the way the boys came off the line. We gave away a few soft penalties, which we need to rectify, and our kicking game needs to be better but we can work on that.

"We looked comfortably defensively; obviously it's difficult for them with Sonny Bill off the park. I'm happy with the boys, proud of the performance and we look forward to next week.

"The key is to build on the good things we have done tonight and have to look at what we can improve on for next week."