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Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Saturday, 30 May 2009 17:42 UK

Lions display worries O'Connell

Lions captain Paul O'Connell
O'Connell could find few positives after the opening match of the Lions tour

Lions captain Paul O'Connell said the scrappy win over a Royal XV could serve as a "big wake-up call" for the Lions.

The Lions trailed for most of the opening match of their tour of South Africa and it took three late tries to give them a flattering 37-25 victory.

"We made too many mistakes, we were turning the ball over too much and you can't do that," said O'Connell.

"They killed us in the first half. There's not too many positives to take from it."

Despite the shoddy display O'Connell did see some signs of hope for the Lions.

"The line-out was good, we scored a couple of good tries and played well towards the end," he said.

"It's big adapting to altitude, and it will be easier next time, but we dug deep and we held on. It's a while since some of us have played and maybe the sharpness wasn't there."

The Lions have five more matches before the first Test against the Springboks on 20 June, starting with the Golden Lions on Wednesday, and O'Connell is hoping to see rapid improvement from the squad.

"We're only just getting used to playing with each other and hopefully we'll have improved by Wednesday," he said.

"Maybe it was apprehension, but we need to cut down on the mistakes, but we've all had bad games in the past and you've just got to put it behind you.

"The boys will be fine. It's a big thing playing your first game for the Lions and it can get to you, but they've got it out of the way. It's not ideal but it's a winning start."

Lions coach Ian McGeechan described the match as a "good start" to the tour.

"There were a lot of errors in the first half which stopped us getting some fluency," said McGeechan. "But in the second half we got stronger.

"I was very pleased with a lot of the forward play. We've just got to be a little bit more patient, but it was a good start considering it was our first game.

"We made a lot of unforced errors when we were in possession, which you would expect to come out of our game the longer we are together.

"You've got to give players time and you have to realise how big an occasion it is when you put a Lions shirt on for the first time."

Royal XV coach Chaka Willemse said the Lions will need to improve considerably as they prepare to face Super 14 opposition next week in the Golden Lions and Cheetahs.

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"They will have to pick it up for next week," said Willemse. "Time and space will be less in those games, and if they don't pick it up it will be a very difficult next few games for them.

"They had 22 international players today, and in the end they punished us.

"It is far too early in the tour to say if the Springboks have anything to worry about in the Test series.

"The Lions will improve and, by the time of the Test matches, I think they will be a quality side.

"Their captain Paul O'Connell took the ball up and started go-forward possession for them, and when they play four or five matches together they will become a superb unit."



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