Quade Cooper and The Reds show blueprint for beating The Lions

Sun, 09/06/2013, 02:00 am
by AAP

Quade Cooper may never get the chance to execute it but his courageous Reds delivered an emphatic first Test blueprint to topple the British and Irish Lions - speed, attack and the unexpected.

The Queenslanders were denied a wonderful upset when beaten 22-12 but the fearless attack, the body-breaking pride of 50 stitches in collisions and the cheekiness was saluted by a standing ovation at full-time.

The Reds deservedly scored two tries-to-one, including a solo gem over 80m by man-of-the-match winger Luke Morahan, who also saved two with brilliant tackles on the line even though he played only 45 minutes before illness stalled him.

"We had them under pressure a bunch of times and presented a way to beat them. There are a thousand ways to play. Whether someone wants to mimic, who knows?" Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said.

First-time skipper Cooper added: "We wanted to keep the tempo up as fast as possible and run them off their feet.

"I'm one-sided. Of course, I'm going to say Australia will win the Test series."

It was an open offer to Wallabies boss Robbie Deans.

By the five minute-mark, the Reds had already run from two quick taps, centre Ben Tapuai had ripped through the Lions defence off a Cooper pass and centre Anthony Faingaa might have finished off a second try-scoring chance if he had more pace.

If Deans wanted a rough template for beating the Lions in the first Test, he got it watching from the packed grandstands where this tour took off with the excitement in the voices of 50,136 fans.

The Test coach would have counted every time the Lions were stressed by quick taps, quick relays to the wing and Cooper's ever-testing methods.

Morahan's kick return try was a delight as he swerved and skipped 80m by three defenders, including a big fend that left Lions skipper Sam Warburton on the turf.

His final chip and chase kick to complete the try was a soaring high but also a sign of what will be missed when he heads to the Western Force next season.

This was an effort forged with six top Reds' Wallabies cheering from sidelines and Will Genia doing his bit as water boy.

Former Lions coach Clive Woodward got it right. Enough of treating this tour with contempt by fielding under-strength sides.

If the British and Irish Lions don't start fielding their best side we'll call off their next visit to Australia.

A gag, maybe, but the Lions were given a whirlwind scare last night in the opening minutes and with the unpredictable for most of the night.

The stubborn and relentless quality of the Lions was always there as well plus the riveting sight of replacement winger George North causing havoc.

The match was played at full-throttle, a fine spectacle.

Lions coach Warren Gatland will have lapped up the test it gave his troops but top Irish winger Tommy Bowe will be the third player heading home because of a broken hand requiring surgery.

"That game was exactly what we wanted and a reminder to the players of what it means to opposition teams to play the Lions. They came at us at 100 miles per hour and I'm proud we soaked it up and gutsed that one out," Gatland said.

Reds prop Greg Holmes needed 30 stitches to a bloodied head wound, fullback Ben Lucas had an ear re-attached and prop Ben Daley has a likely toe fracture.

Cooper tested the Lions defence and reflexes at every opportunity with jinks and clever cross-kicks. He was corralled often but never stopped.

Reds flanker Beau Robinson was knocked out cold when his jaw hit the head of charging Lions prop Mako Vunipola midway through the second half when he attempted to stall him.

Reds prop Greg Holmes and lock Ed O'Donoghue shed blood from head cuts too. A sea of red it certainly was in every respect last night.

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