McMillan hails NZ Provincial Baabaas players

New Zealand Provincial Barbarians coach Clayton McMillan hailed his players' perseverance in Saturday's loss to the British and& Irish Lions in Whangarei.

McMillan said one of the most satisfying aspects in his side's 13-7 defeat was that they never stopped trying to play.

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 told the All Blacks' official website.

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," said McMillan.

He also acknowledged the play of fly-half 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.