British & Irish Lions claim 22-12 victory over Queensland Reds in Brisbane
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: June 8, 2013 6:27pm
The British & Irish Lions made it three wins from three on their tour of Australia but were pushed all the way by a dynamic Queensland side before claiming a 22-12 victory in Brisbane on Saturday.
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 Owen Farrell (17 points) and a first-half try from Ben Youngs 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, were unfortunate not to register the opening try, their momentum broken after an untimely knock-on from 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.
The winger collected Farrell's hopeful high kick, turned past Cuthbert before showing Sam Warburton a clean pair of heels and 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 an opportunist 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 fellow Welshman 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.
Lions v Reds 2013
Sky Sports brings you all the best of the action, reaction and opinion from the Suncorp Stadium.
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