Gatland says drawn series will be acceptable in time

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Lynn McConnell     09 Jul 2017     Getty Images

Saturday's 15-15 decider had been decided by another refereeing decision, when referee Roman Poite reconsidered his awarding of a penalty to the All Blacks just out from the Lions line and ruling a player was accidentally offside after consulting video evidence.

Captain Sam Warburton said he had asked the referee about the ruling when recalling a similar incident which denied Scotland a place in the semi-finals of the last Rugby World Cup.

"He listened to the question and then checked. It was not a penalty offence," he said.

Warburton also said the final Lions penalty goal, the fourth landed by second five-eighths Owen Farrell had been a case of 'better safe than sorry' in his thinking. He considered kicking to the corner and mounting a lineout drive but in consultation with senior players decided to take the points on offer.

Gatland had no issue with his choice.

"To come here and play against the two-time world champions to draw the series is an unbelievable achievement," Gatland said.

It had been a tough tour in effort and workload from the players and team management.

While there was disappointment initially with a drawn series he felt all involved with the Lions would reflect on what a tough tour it had been and then be pretty proud of what they had achieved.

"I felt we didn't play that well tonight. I didn't realise until after the game that it was a very greasy ball. It was a night for the defences.

"We have learnt a heck of a lot on the tour and we got better as a squad and we were really tested and pushed throughout.

"The All Blacks threw everything at us, especially in the first 20 minutes, but we hung in there," Gatland said.

The side would have been devastated if the game had been decided by the penalty Poite originally awarded before changing his mind, he said.

Gatland, who walked into the press conference wearing a clown's nose, in reference to the caricature published by the New Zealand Herald said the hospitality of New Zealanders had been exceptional and the side had nothing but goodwill from rugby fans in New Zealand.

"What was disappointing was how much negativity there is out there, ironically a lot of Kiwis were turned off by it," he said.