Lions 26 Queensland Reds 41A Quade Cooper-inspired Queensland have weathered a second-half Lions fightback to prevail 41-26 in a helter-skelter Super 14 match in Johannesburg.The Reds seemed to have Sunday morning’s (AEST) clash in the bag after racing to a 24-0 lead in the first 17 minutes but the winless Lions charged back at Coca-Cola Park.Queensland were in deep trouble midway through the second half when hooker Saia Faingaa was sin-binned and the home side scored their third try to close to 27-19.However mercurial five-eighth Cooper, who continued the dazzling form he showed against the Sharks last week, turned the game again with a stepping run to put fullback Peter Hynes over near the posts.It was one of six tries scored by the visitors and Cooper had a hand in four of them, including one he dotted down himself early in a 16-point haul.The 22-year-old was a deserving man of the match as he also saved two certain tries with wonderful last-ditch defence.Queensland’s bonus-point victory gave them their fifth win for the season, the most since 2003, and kept them in fifth place on the table, two points outside the top four.Ewen McKenzie’s attacking machine tore the weak Lions defence to shreds from the outset with speedster Rod Davies making a break from the kick-off that sparked a brilliant team try he finished by diving on a Cooper grubber kick in the corner.Such was Queensland’s ruthless early onslaught, Davies secured the Reds’ four-try bonus point in the 17th minute by darting over for his second five-pointer.The blazing winger could have had his hat-trick just 10 minutes later but failed to reel in another Cooper grubber to the right corner.Only a drifted forward pass by Cooper denied Scott Higginbotham another first half try as the Lions started to get their act together.The home side began to recycle possession and pressure the disciplined Queensland defence and fullback Michael Killian crossed for them to trail 24-5 at halftime.While Cooper starred, his childhood idol, Carlos Spencer, endured a poor start and also left his kicking boot behind as he missed three costly kicks at goal before replacement Herkie Kruger took over.The Lions continued to dominate possession after the break and lock Franco van der Merwe and Kruger crossed within five minutes of each other to close within eight points of the 14-men Reds.But by the time Faingaa returned from his yellow card, for dangerously taking out Van der Merwe in the air at a lineout, Hynes had scored.Reserve forward Ezra Taylor also crashed over late from a strong Will Chambers run before Killian picked up his second try and the Lions’ fourth for a bonus point in the last minute.QUEENSLAND REDS 41 (Rod Davies 2, Quade Cooper, Saia Faingaa, Peter Hynes, Ezra Taylor tries Cooper 4 cons pen) bt LIONS 26 (Michael Killian 2, Herkie Kruger, Franco van der Merwe tries Kruger 3 cons) at Ellis Park. Referee: Mark Lawrence (RSA).AAP
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