- Quade Cooper-inspired Queensland Reds run Lions close
- First-half try from Ben Youngs brings tourists tight win
Photo: Getty Images
A solitary try from Ben Youngs and 17 points from Owen Farrell saw the British and Irish Lions to a 22-12 win over an ambitious Queensland Reds side at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
After one-sided wins over the Barbarians and Western Force, Warren Gatland and his coaching staff would have been hoping for a more thorough work-out and they certainly got that at the Suncorp Stadium, although it came at a cost with injuries to Manu Tuilagi and Tommy Bowe.
The Lions were outscored two tries to one by their hosts for whom Luke Morahan and Nick Frisby touched down, but a perfect kicking performance from Farrell and Youngs' opportunitic score ultimately proved enough to secure a hard-fought success.
The Reds made a hugely enterprising start, running quick-tap penalties and looking to spread the ball wide at every opportunity and, after fine breaks from Morahan and Ben Tapuai, they were unfortunate not to register the opening try, their momentum broken after an untimely knock-on from flanker Beau Robinson.
The Lions responded and announced themselves as an attacking force through a superb jinking run by Tommy Bowe from inside his own 22; the Irish international made his way into Reds territory before releasing fellow wing Alex Cuthbert, who was just dragged into touch by Morahan as he attempted to touch down in the corner.
Farrell kicked the Lions ahead with a penalty on 14 minutes after the Reds were penalised at a scrum, but the lead lasted only three minutes as Morahan capped an outstanding start with a quite superb individual try.
Photo: Getty Images
The winger collected Farrell's punt and turned past Cuthbert before showing Sam Warburton a clean pair of heels. He then collected a clever kick over the head of Stuart Hogg to touch down under the posts. Quade Cooper added the conversion.
Farrell's second penalty reduced the deficit to one and, after Cooper had missed a very kickable penalty of his own, the Lions fly-half nearly touched down for his side's opening try only to see the ubiquitous Morahan knock the ball from his grasp as he went to touch down.
But the Lions were not to be denied for long and from the resulting five-metre scrum Ben Youngs poached a try after the ball came loose following a tussle with Reds number eight Jake Schatz. Farrell notched the conversion to put his side into a 13-7 lead.
Warburton almost added a rapid second but was just held up on the line after a thrilling break from deep by compatriot George North, but the Lions did come away with points as Farrell slotted his third penalty with the final act of a breathless half.
They picked up where they had left off on the restart and were rewarded for a sustained period of possession and territorial dominance with Farrell's fourth penalty, but the Reds refused to lie down and continued to pursue an attacking, expansive brand of running rugby at every opportunity.
They were rewarded on 64 minutes when, with the Lions having been on the attack, they launched a counter with scrum-half Nick Frisby spinning out wide to release Rod Davies down the right touchline before accepting a return pass to charge over unopposed.
Replacement Mike Harris missed the regulation conversion meaning his side trailed by seven, but any hopes they had of reeling in their rivals evaporated five minutes from time as Farrell booted his fifth and final penalty to put the Lions out of range.
Reds: Ben Lucas; Rod Davies; Ben Tapuai; Anthony Fainga'a; Luke Morahan; Quade Cooper; Nick Frisby; Ben Daley, James Hanson, Greg Holmes, Ed O'Donoghue, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Eddie Quirk, Beau Robinson, Jake Schatz.
Replacements: Albert Anae (for Daley, 24), Sam Denny, Jono Owen (for Holmes, blood 36-40, 69), Jarrad Butler (for Robinson, 55), Radike Samo (blood, for O'Donoghue, 12-19, for Wallace-Harrison, 55), Jono Lance (for Frisby, 68, Frisby for Lucas, 70), Mike Harris (for Fainga'a, 53), Dom Shipperley (for Morahan, 44).
Lions: Stuart Hogg; Alex Cuthbert, Manu Tuilagi, Jonathan Davies, Tommy Bowe; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Matt Stevens, Richie Gray, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (for T Youngs, 64, Dan Cole (for Vunipola, 64), Adam Jones (for Stevens, 64), Paul O'Connell (for Gray, 64), Justin Tipuric (for Warburton, 74), Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton (for Bowe, 46), George North (for Tuilagi, 20).
Referee: Jermoe Garces (Fra)