x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rugby Union: Tough test for British & Irish Lions in Brisbane

Tourists forced to work hard for victory over Queensland Reds and suffer the costly loss of Tommy Bowe with a broken hand.

British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton is tackled by Queensland Reds' Quade Cooper.
British and Irish Lions' Sam Warburton is tackled by Queensland Reds' Quade Cooper.

Queensland Reds 12 British & Irish Lions 22

Queensland Reds Tries: Frisby, Morahan; Con: Cooper

British & Irish Lions Try: Youngs; Con: Farrell; Pens: Farrel 5

Man of the match George North (Lions)

BRISBANE // The British & Irish Lions had Owen Farrell’s unerring boot to thank for coming through a tough contest against a fired-up Queensland Reds to emerge 22-12 winners on a rainy Saturday night 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.

Lions coach Warren Gatland had called for tougher opposition after his team ran in 17 tries in their first two tour matches against the Barbarians and Western Force and he certainly got his wish, particularly in a breathless first half.

The Reds ran the Lions ragged and led in the first half courtesy of Morahan’s brilliant individual try, adding a second after the break through scrum-half Nick Frisby.

The tourists kept their composure, however, and replied with a try from Ben Youngs at the end of the first half, while their dominance at the set piece helped towards fly-half O’Farrell’s tally of five penalties and a conversion.

“It was great to get the win, that was a really tough one,” tour captain Sam Warburton said in a pitchside interview after enjoying a solid Lions debut. “They came flying out of the blocks, making it very tough for us.”

But the Lions’ third win from as many matches came at a cost, with Irish wing Tommy Bowe breaking his hand and joining injured props Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins as early casualties of the tour.

“It doesn’t look too good for Tommy at the moment, the doctor’s said he’s broken a bone in his hand and it needs an operation,” Gatland told a new conference, adding that no decision had been made on a replacement.

“He’s a huge loss for us, the experience that he brings, the ability to be able to play right wing, left wing, centre, fullback. He is a big loss for us.”

Reds captain Quade Cooper, looking to seal a spot in the Australia squad for the start of the Test series back at the same stadium on June 22, mixed some brilliance with a couple of glaring errors.

The fly-half directed the Reds attack ably but missed a kickable penalty and made one huge clanger, flinging a no-look pass to nobody which the Lions pounced on and only just failed to convert into a try.

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