BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA (JUNE 8, 2013) (FOX SPORTS) - The British and Irish Lions had Owen Farrell's unerring boot to thank for a 22-12 victory over the fired-up Queensland Reds on a rainy night at Lang Park on Saturday (June 8) in by far the toughest test of the tour so far.
The Reds, playing in white, ran the Lions ragged and even led courtesy of wingerLuke Morahan's brilliant individual try. They added a second after the break through scrumhalf Nick Frisby.
The tourists kept their composure, however, and replied with a try from Ben Youngsbefore the interval while their dominance of the set piece helped towards flyhalf Farrell's tally of five penalties and a conversion.
But Irish winger Tommy Bowe broke a bone in his hand to become the third player to be ruled out of the tour through injury, which Gatland confirmed at the post match news conference.
"It doesn't look too good at the moment with Tommy, it looks like he's broken a bone in his hand and the doctor is saying he probably needs an operation," said Gatland.
Gatland had called for tougher opposition after his team ran in 17 tries in their first two matches against the Barbarians and Western Force and he certainly got his wish, particularly in a breathless first half.
"It was exactly what we wanted," Lions coach Warren Gatland told a news conference.
"It was a reminder to the players what it means to Australian players to face the Lions. They came at us at 100 miles an hour in that first 20 minutes and we just had to soak up the pressure."
Tour captain Sam Warburton enjoyed a solid Lions debut and said he had not felt the injured knee that kept him out of the first two games.
"It was the first tough game with a lot of tempo and we adapted from that really well so I think now we've experienced that we'll definitely benefit from that hugely. I thought a lot of aspects of the game went very well for us, we always want to improve but I don't think there was any major weakness, it was a pretty well rounded performance," said Warburton.
Warburton's goal of not losing a match and emulating the 1974 Lions should not now be jeopardised outside the games against the Wallabies.
"It's always going to be massively tough. I found that out the hard way, playing inAustralia quite a few times with little success," said the captain.
"We're extremely confident with the squad we've got here, there's just so much class, I think it's definitely achievable."
One of the reassuring aspects of Saturday's game for Warburton was that he did not feel the sore knee that kept him out of the first two matches of the tour - big wins over the Barbarians and Western Force.