(Reuters) - A young Queensland Reds side scored four first-half tries and produced a strong defensive effort to mount a 27-22 upset of the high-flying Lions in Brisbane on Saturday.
The South Africa conference leaders trailed 27-0 until early in the second half before they struck back with two tries to hooker Malcolm Marx to get back in the game.
The errors that blighted their first half returned in the final quarter, however, and the Reds held on despite the visitors snatching a bonus point through late tries to replacement Marnus Schoeman.
JP Smith, Caleb Timu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and George Smith all scored their tries in the first half for the Reds, who posted their fourth win from nine matches.
The Lions had kept the Australian conference-leading New South Wales Waratahs scoreless last week but looked muddled at Lang Park and unable to string together any continuity as they struggled with a wet ball and a heavy penalty count.
The Reds caught the Lions napping early with prop Smith crashing over from a rolling maul following an attacking lineout in the second minute.
Number eight Timu was then gifted an intercept try in the 11th minute as the home side shot out to a 10-0 lead.
The Reds extended the advantage when hooker Paenga-Amosa crashed over after flyhalf Hamish Stewart ran with the ball for the first time to ensure a superb field position.
The Lions spent the next 10 minutes hammering away at the Reds’ tryline, only to find themselves heading into the break 24-0 down after the hosts defended stoutly and scrambled down field to put flanker Smith over.
The Lions abandoned the expansive game-plan after the break and took route one, smashing straight ahead close to the ruck and getting over the advantage line.
Marx scored his tries in the space of five minutes from rolling mauls, but poor handling and silly penalties thwarted the visitors’ comeback.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Ian Ransom