The St.George Queensland Reds have fallen 27-20 in a tightly-contested match against the Lions at Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg.
Neither side held a lead of more than seven-points during the match, as a powerful Queensland performance in the scrum and stubborn defence kept the scoreline close for the full 80-minutes.
20-year-old prop Josh Nasser made his Super Rugby debut in the loss, while Tate McDermott and Jock Campbell both crossed for tries.
Head coach Brad Thorn said: “Very disappointed. It’s similar to last week. You have these games in the balance and we’re not getting the result.
“Well done to the Lions. They had more composure and got the job done. We’ll take some learnings from that. We’ve got to regroup ahead of another tough trip to Argentina next week,” said Thorn.
Bryce Hegarty gave Queensland a 3-nil advantage in the fourth minute with a 22-metre penalty goal, but the home side responded with a Tyone Green try just minutes later for a 5-3 lead.
Queensland quickly reclaimed their advantage, as Campbell deftly blocked an Elton Jantjies kick before regathering and linking with McDermott, who then found his winger. Campbell then dashed 50-metres to score untouched. Hegarty added the extras to make it 10-5 after ten minutes of play.
The see-sawing opening exchanges continued in the 15th minute as Green crossed for his second five-pointer to bring the scores level at 10-all, before Hegarty again kicked his side into the lead with a second penalty-goal in the 26th minute.
The hosts spent the majority of the remainder of the first-forty in the Reds half, only breaking through the stout Queensland defence in the 39th minute after Taniela Tupou was shown a yellow-card. Jantjies converted the Marnus Schoeman try to give the home-side a 17-13 lead at the break.
Debutant Nasser was shown a yellow-card early in the second half to reduce the visitors to 13-men, however the Lions were unable to capitalise, with an incredible effort in the scrum and in the defensive line keeping the Queensland deficit to just four-points.
With 15-men back on the field, the Reds were able to regain their lead, McDermott stepping and diving his way across the line from close range to score his first try of 2020. Hegarty converted from in front of the posts to give the visitors a 20-17 lead with 17-minutes of play remaining.
The South Africans again hit back, a try to Courtnall Skosan handing the side a four-point lead as the game approached its final 10-minutes, before a Jantjies penalty stretched the hosts advantage to 27-20 with less than five-minutes to play.
The lead proved enough for the Lions, with the Reds unable to salvage a draw in the final minutes.
Queensland travel to Argentina next round to face the Jaguares on February 16 at 9:00am AEST.