Lions edge out Reds in Brisbane
The British and Irish Lions preserved their 100 per cent tour record with a hard-fought 22-12 win over the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium.
After scoring 128 points and 17 tries in battering the Barbarians and walloping Western Force, the Lions had to dig deep following a breathtaking early try from Reds wing Luke Morahan.
Scrum-half Ben Youngs claimed a close-range touchdown for the tourists, while fly-half Owen Farrell kicked 17 points, but there was another possible fitness concern when centre Manu Tuilagi departed nursing a shoulder injury midway through the opening period.
The Reds conjured touchdowns for Morahan and scrum-half Nick Frisby - Quade Cooper kicked one conversion - yet the Lions ultimately prevailed following a game of high intensity and ferocious commitment watched by a 50,000 crowd.
For the first time on tour, the Lions found themselves thoroughly tested in all areas, but they released almost 10 minutes of unremitting pressure when Tuilagi freed Tommy Bowe from deep. The Ireland wing ran brilliantly before finding Alex Cuthbert, yet the Welshman was denied a try by Morahan's superb tackle.
The Reds were hell-bent on moving possession wide and at pace, yet the Lions showed signs of scrum and lineout dominance that underpinned Farrell's opening penalty strike after 14 minutes.
Morahan, though, then scored one of the greatest individual tries of any Lions tour when he produced a stunning 70-metre break that initially took him through Cuthbert's tackle and around Ben Youngs. Lions skipper Sam Warburton was also brushed aside before Morahan had the presence of mind to kick behind final defender Stuart Hogg, gather the rebound and touch down.
Cooper converted, and then Tuilagi departed after just 20 minutes to be replaced by Wales wing George North. A second Farrell penalty narrowed the gap to a point, but Cooper missed a penalty chance 35 metres out that he should have landed as the game's astonishing pace showed no sign of relenting.
The Lions scored their only try of the game in the 34th minute - Youngs robbing Reds number eight Jake Schatz of possession at a scrum five metres out and sniping over. Farrell added the extras and also slotted his third penalty as a pulsating first half drew to a close.
Farrell kicked a fourth 10 minutes into the second period, with heavy rain making conditions difficult for both sides. Frisby scored a second try for the Reds 16 minutes from time, but Cooper missed a simple conversion attempt, meaning the Lions held a seven-point advantage which they extended to 10 with Farrell's fifth penalty three minutes from time.