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Page last updated at 09:09 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 10:09 UK

Payne makes waves on Lions debut

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Test spots still up for grabs - Payne

Wasps prop Tim Payne has given himself a fighting chance of making the British and Irish Lions squad for the second Test against South Africa on Saturday.

Payne, 30, a late squad call-up, played in the 13-13 draw against the Emerging Springboks at Newlands and impressed forwards coach Warren Gatland.

"Tim Payne had a strong game after coming in for his first game," said Gatland, who also praised Keith Earls.

"We've got difficult selections and a couple of players put their hands up."

Gatland warned against major changes to the Test squad, adding: "We have to make sure we're not too reactive after the first Test because there were a heck of a lot of positives in terms of territory, possession and the fact we outscored South Africa by three tries to two."

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He said of Earls: "There were some really nice touches from Keith (against Emerging Springboks), although there was probably one poor kick."

The Lions led 13-6 going into the final minute on a stormy night on Tuesday, but their opponents hit back in the last minute when Willem de Waal converted Danwel Demas's try.

"It was it was difficult to play any positive rugby given the weather conditions," added Gatland.

"We came here to try and play some positive rugby but the weather didn't allow that. They kicked the leather off the ball but probably kicked better than we did at times."

Phil Vickery came off second best against Springbok prop Tendai "The Beast" Mtawarira in the opening Test in Durban, and his position at tight-head prop has come under scrutiny.

Adam Jones of Wales was rested on Tuesday, suggesting he might take the number three jersey on Saturday with Payne possibly on the bench.

We were fortunate in the early part of the tour, just squeaking through - perhaps that's come back to bite us a bit today

Martyn Williams

With Andrew Sheridan suffering a sore back, Payne caught a flight from London to join up with the squad on Monday morning - and was straight into action at loose-head the following day.

He told BBC Sport: "I'm absolutely delighted. I've been dreaming about this moment since I was a little kid playing club rugby at Painswick [in Gloucestershire].

"It was such a short turnaround since getting off the plane but I'm absolutely over the moon. I just wanted to come out here and play my game."

The man who played at tight-head on Tuesday, Ireland's John Hayes, will also be bidding for selection and open-side flanker Martyn Williams, who also played in the pack at Newlands, said: "Both the props were immense."

Williams told BBC Sport it was "desperately disappointing" not to beat the Emerging Springboks.

"We should have shut it off. We need to learn from that in these tight games. We were fortunate in the early part of the tour, just squeaking through - perhaps that's come back to bite us a bit today."

Asked whether the outcome would affect selection for Saturday, skipper Ronan O'Gara said: "I don't think there will be much impact. We would have liked to have given the boys a boost with a win, but we'll now just work towards Saturday."

Players will learn from Lions tour - McGeechan

Lions head coach Ian McGeechan admitted he was happy to escape with a draw, saying: "It was a potential banana skin we got through. It was a game we had to get out of.

"I feel sorry for the players, it was very difficult for them, basically a kicking game in a monsoon. Not a lot of rugby was played there."

Meanwhile, the Emerging Springboks coach Dick Muir was delighted after his team pushed the Lions closer to defeat than any of South Africa's provincial sides.

"It felt like a win in the end. It was a real game of two halves in conditions more suited to the Lions than us," he said.

Muir also coaches the senior Springboks back division and saw little to suggest his Lions counterparts might spring any major surprises with their selection for the next Test at Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld.

"I certainly imagine they'd make two or three changes," he said.

"But the Lions played really well last week, and it would be unfair to make too many."



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see also
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Earls is new Wilkinson - O'Gara
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I gave it my best shot - Williams
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Emerging Springboks 13-13 Lions
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Emerging Springboks v Lions as it happened
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Lions eye changes for second Test
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Lions call for Wasps prop Payne
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