Lions spoil Cooper’s return

Date published: March 27 2015

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Quade Cooper's last-second drop goal was charged down as his comeback ended in an 18-17 defeat at home to the Lions in Brisbane.

Having already knocked off the Blues and the Rebels, the Lions picked up a third win on their travels this season with a gritty display.

The game marked Cooper's return from a fractured collarbone and he showed no ill-effects as his passing game regularly put players into gaps.

That was about the only highlight for the home side for the first hour as they struggled to cope with the Lions' dynamic back row and pace out wide.

The first half was a disappointing affair, but Harold Vorster, coming in at inside centre, showed all his strength to score the first try.

After a series of charges at close range, the Lions spread the ball wide, and Vorster held off Samu Kerevi to dot down in the corner.

That made it 5-3 after an early Cooper penalty, and the Lions stretched their lead to five at the break with a long-range Elton Jantjies penalty on the stroke of half-time.

It was deserved for the Lions, who used their strong scrum as a platform to get their backs involved.

After the break they looked to have taken control when a stolen lineout by Warren Whiteley five metres out was quickly put through the hands to send Warwick Tecklenburg over. 

Jantjies converted to make it 15-3 and it looked to be a mountain to climb for the Reds, who had scored just five points in their last two games combined.

They responded immediately though and after a break from Kerevi, Ruan Combrinck killed the ball on his own line and was sin-binned.

With an extra man the Reds almost capitalised immediately but Curtis Browning was stopped just short. Having struggled in the scrum though, the Reds turned things around, driving the Lions back to earn a penalty try.

Cooper's conversion made it 15-10 and put the Reds right back in it with just under half an hour remaining.

They weren't able to make their extra man count again, with the Lions holding out for the rest of the time Combrinck was off, but the momentum was clearly with the home side.

The second try did come, with 12 minutes remaining, and it was a mix of power and guile that got them over. It started with a delightful inside ball from Ben Tapuai to put Cooper through and while Lachie Turner in support couldn't get over, the Reds were in great position. They recycled quickly and Kerevi used all his power to blast over from close range.

Cooper's converted and the Reds were back in front, but the Lions hit straight back through a Jantjies penalty after Tapuai failed to release at a ruck.

The Reds tried to come back, and almost went over five minutes from time when Chris Feauai-Sautia went for the corner, but he lost the ball over the line after a magnificent effort to touch down.

The scorers:

For Reds:
Tries: Penalty Try, Kerevi
Cons: Cooper 2
Pen: Cooper 

For Lions:
Tries: Vorster, Tecklenburg
Con: Jantjies
Pens: Jantjies 2
Yellow Card: Combrinck

The teams:

Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthiny Fainga'a, 11 James O'Connor, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Curtis Browning, 6 Adam Thompson, 5 Dave McDuling, 4 James Horwill, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (c)
Replacements:16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia

Lions:15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Robert Kruger, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements:16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Martin Muller, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Howard Mnisi

Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Matt O’Brien, James Leckie (both Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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