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Reds waste big lead against Lions

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Update: 9:05AM THE Queensland Reds let slip a 17-point lead as they were whistled off the park for a second straight Super Rugby loss in South Africa.

The most penalised team in the competition, the Reds gained no favours from referee Stuart Berry as they fell 23-20 to the Lions in Johannesburg.

With forwards James Hanson and Jake Schatz sin-binned for ruck infringements in the last 10 minutes, the Lions cashed in on a two-man advantage to continue their surprising readmission success at Ellis Park.

They gave up almost ten opportunities to kick for goal but, in the end, their gambles paid off when winger Courtnall Skosan dived over to put the home side in front for the first time with three minutes left.

Queensland's players had debated the two yellow cards and string of scrum decisions and there was doubt over Skosan's try as Berry and the television match official replayed footage several times.

Reds skipper James Horwill also angrily called for a replay of the ensuing lineout throw which he claimed was crooked.

The penalty count finished 17-4 in favour of the Lions. But Queensland could only blame themselves for wasting the little quality possession they gained in the second half and falling to a third loss in their fifth game.

While the Lions came out playing a helter-skelter attacking game, the Reds preferred field possession as the teams swapped their traditional plans.

The conservative approach paid off for the Reds early as they ran up a 20-3 lead by the 32nd minute when Quade Cooper strolled over for his second try.

But an inability to secure possession at the set piece and poor decision-making in attack after the break played into the home side's hands.

Cooper finished with 20 points but it was his strong front-on defence that was just as impressive, with a jolting hit on Dean van Rensberg spilling the ball free for a sixth-minute try.

Queensland still led 20-9 with 15 minutes left but the Lions started their comeback when centre Lionel Mapoe crossed after relentless pressure from their forward pack.

Rubbing salt into the Reds' wounds, flanker Liam Gill appeared to suffer a leg injury as his side defended grimly in the dying stages.

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