Reds 12-22 British & Irish Lions, Brisbane
Lions down fired up Reds
June 8, 2013
Date/Time: Jun 8, 2013, 19:30 local, 09:30 GMT
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Queensland Reds 12 - 22 British and Irish Lions
Half-time: 7 - 16
Tries: Frisby, Morahan
Cons: Cooper
Tries: BR Youngs
Cons: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 5
The Lions' George North powers through the Reds' defence, Reds v British & Irish Lions, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, June 8, 2013
The Lions' George North fends off the Reds' Rod Davies during their clash in Brisbane
© Getty Images

The British & Irish Lions made it three wins in-a-row with a hard-fought 22-12 victory over the Reds at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins

  • Man of the Match: George North was thrown into the action a little sooner than expected following an injury to centre Manu Tuilagi and wasted no time in making a significant impact in midfield. The stats show he racked up 118m with ball in hand but that does not do him justice with his power and pace a constant threat. But his balance and distribution were also superb and would have resulted in scores for fly-half Owen Farrell and captain Sam Warburton if it were not for some desperate defence. A world-class talent at the top of his game - the Wallabies have been warned.
  • Key Moment: The Reds came flying out of the blocks and were unlucky not to be rewarded their early endeavour. It may have been a different story had Lions winger Tommy Bowe been sin-binned for a high tackle on the Reds' Ben Tapuai in the opening moments of the game. The Irishman was penalised but nothing more and the Lions were eventually able to ride out the storm and claim the win.
  • Hero of the Game: Reds winger Luke Morahan was simply sensational in the opening period and was cruelly denied the chance to build on that with an injury in the early stages of the second half bringing a premature end to his game. His stand-out performance included a superb try-saving tackle on Lions winger Alex Cuthbert and an even better effort to knock the ball out of the grasp of Lions fly-half Owen Farrell and deny him a score - but his try midway through the first half will live longest in the memory.
  • Villain of the Game: It is perhaps a little harsh to point the finger at the Reds after such a gutsy display but they were made to pay for their shortcomings and had flanker Beau Robinson not spilled the ball just short of the line when the Reds were dominating the game in the early stages then this game could well have panned out differently. The night did not get better for Robinson who was later forced out of the game after a nasty clash of heads with Lions prop Mako Vunipola.
  • Talking Point: This was just the kind of brutal hit out that the Lions required with time running out before they return to Brisbane for the 1st Test clash against the Wallabies and also the thrilling contest the tour needed after a wave of negative headlines about under-strength opposition and empty seats. But it appears to have come at a cost with a wrist injury to in-form winger Tommy Bowe threatening to end his tour. The Lions need to be battle-hardened for the Test series but cannot afford to limp into their showdown with the Wallabies.
  • Play of the Game: The Lions came agonisingly close to two tries following sweeping moves but it is hard to look past Luke Morahan's first half try for the Reds. The one-time Wallaby fielded a clearance from Farrell before stepping Lions scrum-half Ben Youngs and then shrugging off captain Sam Warburton. He then chipped the ball over fullback Stuart Hogg before winning the race to touch it down and claim the score that may propel him back into the international ranks next week.

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.

Props Cian Healy (ankle ligaments) and Gethin Jenkins (calf muscle) were already booked on flights home tomorrow. Their replacements Alex Corbisiero and Ryan Grant have flown in from Argentina and South Africa, respectively.

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.

The Reds flew out of their starting blocks, putting the Lions under immediate pressure as half-backs Cooper and Frisby toyed with a stretched defence before home wing Rod Davies was tackled just short.

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 wing Tommy Bowe from deep. Ireland star Bowe ran brilliantly before finding his fellow wing Alex Cuthbert, yet the Welshman was denied a try by Morahan's superb tackle that completed another breathless passage of play.

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 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, who went into midfield alongside his countryman Jonathan Davies.

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. North's speed caused problems for the Reds' defence, and his approach work carved open the Australian side, but Farrell lost possession as he attempted to ground the ball under pressure from Morahan, and a golden chance went begging.

The Lions, though, only had to wait another three minutes before claiming their opening try, resulting from Youngs robbing Reds number eight Jake Schatz of possession at a scrum five metres out and sniping over. Farrell added the extras, and only some last-ditch tackling from the Reds prevented a Warburton score after North ran strongly from deep, before Farrell slotted his third penalty as a pulsating first half drew to a close.

Tom Hamilton and Alex Broun review the fixture at Suncorp Stadium

Warren Gatland is "very pleased with that performance"

Farrell kicked a fourth penalty 10 minutes into the second period, and with rain making conditions difficult for both sides the Lions adopted a more pragmatic approach through the back-row forwards' direct running.

Reds flanker Beau Robinson was carried off after being caught flush in the face by a charging Vunipola, which caused a lengthy stoppage while he was carefully treated by medics before being helped away with his neck in a brace.

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 as Paul O'Connell appeared off the bench. And with props Adam Jones and Dan Cole also on, the Lions were able to close out a win that was sealed by Farrell's fifth penalty three minutes from time.

The Lions' Tommy Bowe tackles the Reds' Ben Tapuai at the Suncorp Stadium © Getty Images
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