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British and Irish Lions coach, Warren Gatland, has called for tougher opposition on the 2013 Tour Down Under, and they certainly got their wish against the Reds yesterday in Brisbane. They may have been lulled into some false sense of dictating the pace following their 17 tries in their first two matches against the Barbarians and Western Force, but the Reds certainly proved to be worthy opponents, particularly in a breathless first half.
Owen Farrell’s accurate boot ensured that the British and Irish Lions pulled it through with a 22-12 victory over the fired-up Queensland Reds on a rainy night.
The Reds, playing in white, ran the Lions ragged and even led, courtesy of a brilliant individual try by Reds winger Luke Morahan. Soon after the break they scored a second try through scrumhalf Nick Frisby.
However, the tourists soaked up the pressure, kept their composure, and replied with a try from Ben Youngs just before the interval. Farrell’s tally of five penalties and a conversion kept them in the game.
“It was exactly what we wanted,” Lions coach Warren Gatland told a news conference. “It was a reminder to the players what it means to Australian players to face the Lions. They came at us at 100 miles an hour in that first 20 minutes and we just had to soak up the pressure.”
The Reds flyhalf, Quade Cooper, who has not been included in initial Wallabies squad, knew that the pressure was on him if he wanted to impress the selectors for the first test on June 22. He was instrumental in directing the Reds’ attack but also made a few glaring errors.
Cooper said post-match “We tried to keep the tempo up throughout the match and do what we do best, which is run it around. We left everything out on the park and we did our club and our state proud.”
Worsening weather conditions certainly did not help the tiring players towards the end and the Lions were a relieved side when the final whistle went. Head coach Warren Gatland praised a gutsy effort by the British and Irish Lions on Saturday after they held off a fierce assault by the Queensland Reds to register their third straight win.
The Lions will be seeking their first Test series win since 1997 when they play their three games against Australia on June 22, June 29 and July 6.