Quade Cooper produced a first-half masterclass to score 20 points for the Queensland Reds, but it was not enough as the Lions came back to win 23-20 and move up to fifth place in Super 15 rugby on Saturday.
Cooper scored two tries, converted them and kicked two penalties to give the Queensland team a 20-6 lead at half-time.
However, the flyhalf and his Reds teammates crumpled as the Lions woke up.
As they had in three previous victories this season, the Lions turned honest endeavor into points in the second half and clinched the lead with just three minutes remaining.
Replacement back Lionel Mapoe and winger Courtnall Skosan scored tries for the Lions, as the Reds were reduced to 13 men in the final 10 minutes and came away with nothing more than a losing bonus point.
It took six minutes for Cooper to have a penalty, try and conversion to his name as he intercepted a Lions move in their own 22 to punish the home side for poor decision-making.
After flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff opened the Lions’ scoring with a penalty, Cooper responded with one of his own to keep the Reds 10 points ahead.
Then, in the 32nd minute, he parted the Lions defense with a dummy to score under the crossbar and put the visitors 20-3 in front.
However, the Lions refused to become downcast about being comprehensively outclassed by the nonchalant Cooper and ended the first half strongly. Although they managed only a penalty for their efforts, the tone was set for the second half, when they ratcheted up the pressure.
Boshoff’s 53rd-minute penalty reduced the deficit, and 12 minutes later a rolling maul gave the Lions front-foot ball from which Mapoe burst over.
The conversion made it a four-point game, and the pressure continued to tell on the Reds as replacement hooker James Hanson and No. 8 Jake Schatz received yellow cards in the space of three minutes.
The Lions duly finished the job as Skosan stepped inside and cut his way to the try line to give the Lions another victory over seemingly superior opposition.