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Lions Overcome Tough Challenge From Reds

Lions Overcome Tough Challenge From Reds

Tommy Bowe turned in an eye-catching display as the British & Irish Lions maintained their winning start to the 2013 tour by seeing off the Queensland Reds in wet conditions in Brisbane.

Tommy Bowe was arguably the pick of the Lions players as they carved out a 16-7 interval lead, operating well in defence and attack, but the Monaghan man had to be replaced early in the second half after picking up a hand injury.

He had his right hand bandaged and his arm in a sling as Warren Gatland’s men completed their third tour victory on the trot, with the Ireland winger emerging as the Lions’ latest injury concern.

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Jonathan Sexton and Paul O’Connell both saw action in the second half with the 2009 tour captain impressing at the breakdown, winning the final penalty which Owen Farrell converted for a 10-point winning margin.

This was a much stiffer test for the Lions than their opening two outings and Queensland took a 7-3 lead amid a frenetic early pace at the sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

Reds winger Luke Morahan delighted the capacity crowd with a memorable solo try in the 18th minute, converted by influential captain Quade Cooper.

Queensland, fourth in the Super Rugby standings currently, came under more pressure in the second quarter as the Lions settled to their task and exerted more control.

Farrell kicked three penalties and converted his half-back partner Ben Youngs’ try during a profitable period late in the half.

The conditions grew more difficult in the second period, the wet ball leading to increasing errors from both sides with an initial penalty from Farrell strengthening the Lions’ grip on the game.

The Reds hit back in the final quarter with an unconverted effort from scrum half Nick Frisby, yet O’Connell and company broke up their momentum and a closing kick from Farrell – his fifth success from five shots – settled the issue.

Queensland were led by out-half Cooper, one of nine Wallabies in the starting line-up, and also included former Ulster, Leinster and Ireland ‘A’l ock Ed O’Donoghue.

The Reds made an all-action start, attacking from deep after Bowe was pinged for a high tackle. Morahan launched a dangerous kick chase that had the Lions scampering backwards.

The hosts went wide again as Ben Tapuai broke inside Alex Cuthbert and when the ball was moved to the right, Bowe had to react smartly to bring down Rod Davies just metres short of the line.

The Lions responded by winning a penalty at scrum time and an electric ninth minute run from Bowe, who hurtled past four defenders, almost set up a try for Cuthbert in the right corner – Morahan’s textbook tackle denied him.

A second advancing Lions scrum earned a penalty in Reds’ territory and Farrell’s 14th minute strike split the posts for the opening points.

Queensland hit back four minutes later with a fantastic individual try from Morahan. Cuthbert chased a kick from Farrell, but Morahan slipped by him, broke away from Sam Warburton’s attempted tackle and retrieved his chip ahead of Stuart Hogg to score under the posts.

Cooper converted for 7-3 but almost handed the Lions their first try. He threw a loos pass that Jonathan Davies hacked through towards the posts, but the ball beat George North over the end line.

A second successful penalty from Farrell closed the gap to 7-6, entering the second quarter, with North coming on for the injured Manu Tuilagi (shoulder).

The Lions’ solid set piece platform then launched them forward once more. Good feet from Farrell sparked a promising spell of attacking, only for industrious Reds flanker Beau Robinson to force a penalty at the breakdown.

Hogg was covering well at full-back as Cooper attempted to pull the Lions all over the pitch, keeping up the high tempo that the Reds relish.

After Cooper sent a kickable penalty to the left and wide, the Lions really found their rhythm in attack as the interval approached.

Youngs and North combined terrifically before Morahan managed to knock the ball from Farrell’s grasp as the young out-half stretched for the try-line.

From the ensuing five-metre scrum, Reds number 8 Jake Schatz lost the ball under pressure from Youngs and the England scrum half reacted quickest to touch down.

Television match official Glenn Newman ruled that there was ‘no clear knock on’ and referee Jerome Garces could award the try, supplemented by Farrell’s conversion.

The Lions kept the foot on the gas and a stunning broken-field charge from North gave Warburton a sniff of the try-line, the tour skipper being just held up by the covering Cooper and Frisby.

The tourists regrouped and a cohesive spell in first half injury-time yielded a penalty that Farrell stuck over from 19 metres out.

Bowe was replaced by his Irish colleague Sexton six minutes into the second half having injured his hand. Farrell moved to centre following the Dubliner’s introduction with North on the wing.

The heavier rain made for a greasier ball and a tighter approach, Scotland’s Richie Gray standing out in terms of hard work at the coalface.

Farrell knocked over his fourth penalty of the night to keep the Lions on course. The scoring opportunities dried up and a lengthy injury stoppage for Robinson, who had to be stretchered off before recovering, led to a scrappy spell.

But the Reds burst back into life in the 63rd minute as they attacked from halfway, setting Rod Davies free on the right and he passed back inside for Frisby to evade the retreating North on his way to the whitewash.

Mike Harris, assuming the place-kicking duties, missed the kickable conversion but the pressure was back on the Lions as they defended their seven-point lead.

Although Ewen McKenzie’s charges quickly pressed again from the restart, replacements Dan Cole and O’Connell combined to win a crucial turnover and the Lions steadied the ship in the final quarter hour.

Youngs, Farrell and Sexton provided the direction in the backs and with territory clawed back, the hard work of the pack teed up Farrell for the match-winning score – Dan Lydiate made the tackle and O’Connell got his hands in over the ball to force the penalty.

The Reds were not finished yet and they could and perhaps should have made more of a bustling break from replacement prop Jono Owen into the tourists’ 22. A late consolation try proved beyond them though as the Lions made it three wins from three.

TIME LINE: 14 minutes – British & Irish Lions penalty: Owen Farrell – 0-3; 18 mins – Queensland Reds try: Luke Morahan – 5-3; conversion: Quade Cooper – 7-3; 23 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Owen Farrell – 7-6; 32 mins – Queensland Reds penalty: missed by Quade Cooper – 7-6; 34 mins – British & Irish Lions try: Ben Youngs – 7-11; conversion: Owen Farrell – 7-13; 40+3 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Owen Farrell – 7-16; Half-time – Queensland Reds 7 Lions 16; 51 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Owen Farrell – 7-19; 63 mins – Queensland Reds try: Nick Frisby – 12-19; conversion: missed by Mike Harris – 12-19; 77 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Owen Farrell – 12-22; Full-time – Queensland Reds 12 British & Irish Lions 22

QUEENSLAND REDS: Ben Lucas; Rod Davies, Ben Tapuai, Anthony Faingaa, Luke Morahan; Quade Cooper (capt), Nick Frisby; Ben Daley, James Hanson, Greg Holmes, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Ed O’Donoghue, Eddie Quirk, Beau Robinson, Jake Schatz.

Replacements used: Radike Samo for O’Donoghue (12-18 mins, blood sub), Albert Anae for Daley (23), Jono Owen for Holmes (37-half-time, blood sub; 70), Dom Shipperley for Morahan (45), Mike Harris for Faingaa (53), Jarrad Butler for Robinson, Samo for Wallace-Harrison (both 55), Jono Lane for Frisby (65), Frisby for Lucas (70), Sam Denny for Anae (78).

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers/England), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets/Wales), Tommy Bowe (Ulster/Ireland); Owen Farrell (Saracens/England), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England); Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England), Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers/England), Matt Stevens (Saracens/England), Richie Gray (Scotland), Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers/England), Dan Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons/Wales), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues/Wales), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons/Wales).

Replacements used: George North (Scarlets/Wales) for Tuilagi (20 mins, inj), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/Ireland) for Bowe (46, inj), Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland) for Gray, Richard Hibbard (Ospreys/Wales) for T Youngs, Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers/England) for Vunipola, Adam Jones (Ospreys/Wales) for Stevens (all 65), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys/Wales) for Warburton (75). Not used: Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland).

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)