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Lydiate keeps the lid on Lions hopes after comeback.

OSPREYS...................52 DRAGONS ................19 DAN Lydiate admits it would be a dream to be selected for the Lions, but he insists he can only focus on the Dragons.

The Wales ace made his comeback from a broken ankle in the Men of Gwent's humiliation at the hands of the Ospreys on Friday.

And Lydiate admits it has been a hugely frustrating six months on the sidelines - especially last Saturday at the Millennium Stadium - but he was thrilled to get through his return unscathed.

With the Lions tour of Australia looming, Lydiate faces a race against time to find the form that saw him named 2012 Six Nations Player of the Championship.

Warren Gatland is a big admirer of the 25-year-old and admits he will give returning stars as much time as possible to prove themselves.

But Lydiate said: "Going on the Lions tour would mean the same to me as it would mean to any other player - it is the dream. But that is the last thing on my mind. If you focus too far ahead, it is typical that something will happen and you'll get injured or lose form.

"My focus is on getting fit and trying to build on my performances to have a good run at the end of the season with the Dragons.

"I was so nervous ahead of the game, but I'm so happy to be back. It was a big confidence-booster to be back on the pitch. I'm definitely not match fit, but felt strong in the contact. It was just timing and match sharpness I lacked. I tried a few leg chops and slipped off, but hopefully it will come."

Lydiate has just three games left to convince Gatland before the squad announcement on April 30. The first of those comes in Saturday's 'Judgement Day' Millennium Stadium clash with the Scarlets.

He said: "It's about what I do on the pitch. Actions speak louder than words. For any chance of me going I need to find my form pretty quickly. Whatever jersey I put on, especially the Dragons and Wales, I always wear my heart on my sleeve and give 110%."

Dragons head coach Darren Edwards said: "A month is enough time for a player of Dan's quality to prove himself worthy of a Lions spot. He has worked very hard and all he needs is to blow away the cobwebs.

"I am sure Warren knows what balance of team he wants and knows Dan, with his hard hitting and physicality, would have stood out for Wales against England."

And he will be praying that Lydiate returns to his destructive best after the Dragons were blown away at the Liberty Stadium.

The Ospreys raced into a 21-3 lead in 22 minutes thanks to tries from Kahn Fotuali'i, Tom Habberfield and Ashley Beck.

Tom Isaacs secured the bonuspoint two minutes after the restart, finishing off from deep. Dan Evans responded, but Dan Biggar put victory to bed with a converted try, which stretched his tally to 18-points. Toby Faletau capitalised on a loose ball at the back of the Ospreys scrum to snatch a consolation. But Ospreys' Moldovan prop Dmitri Arhip then powered over from a driving lineout, before Justin Tipuric collected Jonathan Spratt's cross-kick to dive into the corner.

The seven-try victory saw the reigning Pro12 champions climb into the play-off places ahead of the Scarlets.

Coach Steve Tandy said: "It was a professional performance. But we probably left three tries out there, we should have finished a few more things off, and it isn't like us to concede two tries. We know we'll need to do better come Saturday against the Blues."

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Dan Lydiate tackles Osprey Richard Hibbard
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 24, 2013
Words:618
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