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Page last updated at 18:52 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 19:52 UK

Halfpenny frets after Lions debut

Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny has had to wait to make his Lions debut

Leigh Halfpenny admitted his Lions debut was a bitter-sweet experience after the tourists stuttered to a 26-24 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday.

A leg injury saw the Wales wing miss the start of the South Africa trip and he was keen to hit the ground running.

"I've become a Lion, there's no better feeling than putting on that red jersey and running out," Halfpenny said.

"Hopefully I will get another chance, I was a bit frustrated with my game personally."

Expectations had been raised by the 74-10 win over the Golden Lions in midweek and the early signs in Bloemfontein were good.

The Lions romped into an early lead with tries from Stephen Ferris and Keith Earls, both converted by Halfpenny's Wales team-mate James Hook.

Sometimes with games like this you learn more than when you romp a team 70-odd points

Wing Leigh Halfpenny

But the Cheetahs - who had finished bottom of the Super 14 table this season with just two wins from 13 games - hit back and had the British and Irish team wobbling at the end.

A late drop-goal attempt from Cheetahs replacement fly-half Louis Strydom's nearly snatched a win for the hosts, but the ball sailed narrowly wide to the Lions' relief.

"It was a blinding start but they came back at us and maybe we didn't keep up our intensity," Halfpenny said.

"In terms of the game it was a bit frustrating. There were times we thought we had them in attack and just lost that last ball, that last pass just didn't go to hand.

"I tried to get my hands on the ball a bit more, the pass just didn't come my way or whatever.

"But there's no excuses, I need to get myself in better positions in the next game to show what I can do.

"Next game we need to make sure we finish those chances, but at the end of the day it's a win and we're moving forward to a Test series and it's three out of three [wins].


"In defence there's things we need to work on... we were short of numbers sometimes on the blind [side] so we need to sort that out.

"People expected us to come in today and do the same as we did Wednesday.

"There were new combinations again, nine new Lions we had today and again it's a feel for how other players play.

"Inside me was Keith Earls and I've never played with him before, so I've got a feel of how he plays now - it's trying out new things and seeing how they go.

"Sometimes with games like this you learn more than when you romp a team 70-odd points."

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see also
Flutey set for Sharks encounter
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McGeechan relief over vital win
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Cheetahs 24-26 Lions
06 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Cheetahs v Lions photos
06 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Halfpenny feared for Lions place
05 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Hook told to take control at 10
05 Jun 09 |  Welsh
Roberts revels in O'Driscoll link
04 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Boks quartet in Cheetahs line-up
02 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa announce Lions squad
01 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions in South Africa photos
05 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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