Lions survive Reds onslaught to keep winning record

Quade Cooper of the Reds is tackled by Dan Lydiate of the Lions during the match between the Queensland Reds and the British & Irish Lions. (Getty)

Quade Cooper of the Reds is tackled by Dan Lydiate of the Lions during the match between the Queensland Reds and the British & Irish Lions. (Getty)

The Reds out-scored the visitors two tries to one but the Lions weathered the storm helped by the boot of flyhalf Owen Farrell whose perfect six attempts maintained his team's 100% kicking record since landing in Australia.

The Lions, coming off emphatic wins in Hong Kong and Perth against the Barbarians and a second-string Western Force, also narrowly missed three tries in the first half which were ruled out by the video referee.

"We got very close there. [We're happy with] the effort and attitude that our boys showed. Full credit to the team," said Reds captain Quade Cooper.

The Reds fielded nine Wallabies in their starting line-up and they threw everything at the Lions, particularly in a thrilling first half, but the visitors were able to absorb the early pressure then slowly take control.

The Reds had plenty to prove to onlooking Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, and especially flyhalf Cooper, who was controversially omitted from Australia's initial squad for the three-Test Lions series.

But a typically mercurial Cooper, whose evening was tarnished when he almost gifted the Lions a first-half try and missed an easy penalty, was unable to spark an upset victory in front of a 50 136 crowd at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

Instead it was winger Luke Morahan who impressed most with two try-saving tackles and a brilliant five-pointer of his own.

The home team dominated the early exchanges of the match, enjoying nearly all the possession and attacking at every opportunity from all over the park.

The Lions were holding on for the first 10 minutes but they almost scored when Tommy Bowe went on a brilliant run to feed fellow wing Alex Cuthbert who was dragged into touch by Morahan before he grounded the ball.

And despite seeing hardly any of the ball, the visitors were first on the scoreboard when Farrell kicked a 13th-minute penalty following a Queensland scrum infringement 30 metres out.

However, the Reds struck back with a superb solo try by Morahan, who climbed high to take a kick, evaded a tackle from back-from-injury Lions captain Sam Warburton and then chipped over fullback Stuart Hogg to score under the posts.

The Lions came back into the game, and North nearly capitalised on a howling botched pass from Cooper on his own 22, but ball was kicked dead.

They got within a point thanks to a second penalty to Farrell while at the other end Cooper missed a seemingly straightforward effort from 36 metres.

Farrell, fed by North, then came desperately close to a five-pointer only for Morahan to knock the ball out of his hands as he went to ground it.

But the Lions demolished the Queensland pack in the ensuing scrum and England scrumhalf Ben Youngs wrested the ball from number eight Jake Schatz and pounced on it in the loose for an opportunistic try and a 13-7 lead.

The frantic first 30 minutes began to take their toll and the Lions were almost in again when North gathered a Cooper kick inside his own 22, then went on a scything run finding Warburton, who was just held up over the line.

Queensland held firm in the scrum but Farrell made it 16-7 right on half-time when the Reds forwards were penalised for slowing the ball down at the breakdown.

Farrell made it 19-7 10 minutes into the second half with his fourth penalty, but with 15 minutes left, Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby's long pass found wing Rod Davies, who raced down the sideline and passed back infield for Frisby to score.

Replacement kicker Mike Harris missed a simple conversion and the Lions led 19-12, but with five minutes left Farrell kicked his fifth penalty to make the game safe.

Farrell finished with six successful kicks from six attempts, emulating team-mate Leigh Halfpenny who slotted all 11 with the boot in Wednesday's win against Western Force. – Sapa-AFP



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