The Reds outscored the Lions three tries to two at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday to record a 30-25 victory in a hard-fought clash.
The Reds outscored the Lions three tries to two at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday to record a 30-25 victory.
With both the Lions and the Reds known more for their willingness to attack than their defensive prowess, it came as no surprise that from the onset both teams looked to run with the ball wherever possible.
Quade Cooper and Andre Pretorius missed early penalty attempts before the latter opened the scoring with a three-pointer in the thirteenth minute.
The home side crossed the whitewash three minutes later when full-back Michael Killian surged over having been put through the gap by a lovely inside pass from centre Waylon Murray.
While the Lions had the advantage on the scoreboard, they didn't have it all their own way in the first quarter. However, the Reds' inability to hold onto the ball – knocking on five times in the first twenty – and ill-discipline, with the two James', Slipper and Horwill, both spending time in the sin bin meant that they struggled to consolidate on moments of brilliance.
The Reds got on the board in the 30th minute, with Luke Morahan diving over after a lovely little pop pass from Cooper created a gap for him to sprint through. Mike Harris, who took over the kicking duties from the wayward Cooper, added the extras and a penalty soon after to see the Reds head into the break four points adrift from their hosts.
Replacement Jaco Taute gave the Lions the best possible start to the second stanza, dotting down just 50 seconds into the second-half. The full-back launched a huge up-and-under which was spilled by Digby Ioane, as the Reds back considered his error, Taute snapped up the loss ball and dashed to the try-line to complete the Lions' second try.
Taute's score was a false dawn of sorts for the Lions, with the Reds dominating the remainder of the exchanges.
Cooper, a constant threat, was rewarded for his efforts in the 45th minute when he ghosted over from five metres out after some good work from the forwards.
With all the territory, the Reds began to squeeze the Lions, with the home side giving away numerous penalties which Harris was quick to capitalise on, finishing with six from six.
Ioane looked to have secured the win for the visitors when he crashed over after another period of good work up play from the Reds, with backs and forwards combining well throughout.
The Lions launched a late charge, and a penalty a piece from Pretorius and replacement Rory Kockott put them within striking distance of the Reds, but in the end the men from Queensland had just enough in the tank to secure a hard-fought victory.
For the Lions:
Try: Killian, Taute
Pen: Pretorius 4, Kockott
For the Reds:
Try: Morahan, Cooper, Ioane
Con: Harris 3
Pen: Harris 3
Yellow card: Slipper (Reds), Horwill (Reds)
Lions: 15 Michael Killian, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies La Grange (c), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Andre Pretorius, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whitely, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe , 4 David Bullbring, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Jaco Taute.
Reds: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Digby Ioane, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Ben Tapuai.
Referee: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)