The Reds did the job, walking away with a bonus point 34-20 victory over the Lions, but they'll need to sharpen things up if they want to beat the Brumbies next week in Canberra.
They started slowly and finished even slower when Ewen McKenzie rested a large portion of his starters to give the bench some action. Debutant Chris F'Sautia scored with his third touch and looks to be a handy talent for the Queenslanders.
Ben Lucas, who started at fullback tonight to accommodate the return of Quade Cooper at 10, went off with a hip flexor injury and he could be in some doubt for the key derby next week in the ACT.
Cooper played the first half and made some good contributions, even if the Reds were at times guilty of being over-eager to get him the ball. Importantly, he looked like he pulled up well and should start next weekend in a game that could decide the fate of Queensland's title defence.
Key man Will Genia has grown wings since his decision to stay with the Reds. He scored a try tonight, set up another and was outstanding in every facet. He's in superb form.
Quadewatch There was the odd goose step, a few wacky kicks, some lovely long passes and overall, Cooper will be satisfied with that return to Super Rugby. He will take some time to find his mojo but tonight was certainly a pass mark.
"It was good being out there with the boys and just getting a touch," Cooper told Fox Sports.
And on the Brumbies:
"We're definitely confident in our ability and the way that we're tracking. We'll turn up in the right frame of mind and hopefully gain some points back off the Brumbies."
Numbers game The Reds are still eight points behind the Brumbies. A loss next week might do them in. Another stat that is of some concern is that while the Lions missed 35 tackles, the Reds still missed 22.
FULLTIME Reds 34 Lions 20.
79th min The Reds still without the ball. I can't remember the last time they had a decent touch. They will get a chance with 20 seconds to play to see if they can add to that total. It's 34-20.
76th min TRY to the Lions and it's Jaco Kriel who gets his first try in Super Rugby. Well earned and the Reds reserves not aiming up here against the bench of the Lions. It's 34-20 as the conversion from Jantjies makes it four from four.
74th min Lions close! They're over but there's a second movement. Rough call but they get a penalty and continue to smash away at the Reds line. They've absolutely dominated this past 10 minutes.
72nd min The Lions throwing everything at the Reds now. Great stuff! Hip flexor for Ben Lucas I'm hearing so that's not great news. The wave still going. The Reds aren't. Another attacking throw from the South Africans. Reds still on top 34-13 but look every bit like conceding another one.
70th min Oh dear. They've started a Mexican wave. At a rugby match. What the hell is going on?
68th min Another poor pass from Mike Harris. At the feet of Ant Faingaa and he drops it to give a very good attacking chance for the Lions. The Brumbies won't be particularly daunted with what they are seeing at the moment. Reds lead 34-13 but barely in first gear.
65th min More good counter from the Lions but Ant Faingaa and F'Sautia shovel Deon Van Rensburg into touch. Reds guilty of clocking off at the moment and making some simple errors. Not good enough and you'd think McKenzie won't be impressed with this. James Horwill being replaced for Adam Wallace-Harrison. Reds lead 34-13.
62nd min The Lions threaten again here but they give away a penalty with the ball. Gutting. Straight off the feet and the Reds will look to try and play some rugby outside their five metre zone for the first time for a while. Box kick!
61st min Crowd here is 31,118, which is more than I would have thought. Good result. Injury dramas here for the Lions, with flanker Grant Hattingh about to head off on a stretcher with a knee injury. Jake Schatz was down for a moment but twas but a flesh wound. Reds 34 Lions 13.
58th min The Lions are over and theink they've got one. And that's a TRY to the Lions. It's that man Martin Bezuidenhout, the replacement hooker. Liam Gill off for the Reds now as that kick from Jantjies sails over. Lovely kick. It's 34-13.
55th min Jake Schatz flicks it up off the deck, Genia runs into the gap and screams away on a 60m run for the TRY. That's number four and the bonus point, which is exactly what they needed tonight after the great win by the Brumbies. It's 34-6 and things are threatening to get ugly. The Lions ain't got no alibi.
52nd min The Lions haven't given up the ghost, despite my earlier observation that they'd given up as soon as they arrived on the field. That was a lie folks. Plain wrong. Just scratch that. They've made a good raid here and are in the middle of another. They've won their last two at Suncorp so play well here. They won't get up tonight but are having a chop. Reds lead 27-6.
48th min TRY to the Reds and F'Sautia gets one on debut! Genia on fire, carves them up and sets up the 18-year-old to canter and score under the posts. Reds lead 27-6 as Harris converts. Now the Reds are motoring. Need another try to get that bonus point.
45th min Righto, reshuffles galore. Ben Lucas off injured, Mike Harris gone to flyhalf and young Chris F'Sautia on the wing for his Reds debut. Big noise about this kid. Reds led 20-6 and Quade is tweeting from the bench: "Game on! We train & dedicate most of our lives to play 80mins of rugby! It's what we do...ps I love you all :)'
He loves you all (with the possible exception of Richie McCaw and Steph Rice).
44th min Harris converts. Super start for the Reds. The lead 20-6 and need two more tries for the bonus point.No Cooper in the second half for the Reds. His night is done and looked pretty decent for such a long time out of the game.
42nd min Jeez that's no good for the Lions. Franco Van Der Merwe gets a yellow card for knocking the ball out of Genia's hands as Queensland looked very much like they were about to score. It's 15 and 14. And here's the TRY to Saia Faingaa. Another big start to a second half. Reds lead 18-6 with a kick on the way.
41st min A few drunk and loud corporate guests have boldy declared the Reds "HAVE SOME WORK TO DO (yelled)" in the second half. Let's see if that analysis comes close. Good start from the Reds so far. They are responding to the call.
HALFTIME Reds held up, a small but semi-exciting stink ensues and the Reds lead the Lions 13-6.
"We're still in front. That's a positive," says Will Genia as he's put on the spot for one of the fairly pointless halftime interviews.
39th min The Lions lose it and the Reds will get one more chance. They'll feed a scrum five metres out and they really need this try. Where's Ben Lucas?
37th min Harris drops it cold. Would have touched down under the posts after Cooper served it up on a silver platter. Awful mistake and to be honest, the Reds aren't going well enough to miss those sort of opportunities. They need bonus points. The still lead 13-6.
35th min The Reds are going out of their way to throw it to Cooper, even when he's in positions that don't really help anyone. He did very well then after Ioane flicked him one when he was on the sideline and surrounded by defenders. Reds don't take that penalty shot and want a try before halftime. Only a few metres out.
32nd min I like it Jenno. The Brumbies are on top of the Australian Confabulation. That's so very rugby. I'd trademark that before John O'Neill sees this. Reds a little scratchy in that attacking movement and the Lions throw it in on halfway. It's Reds 13 Lions 6.
30th min The Lions win it AGAIN from the restart but Ioane streaks away as the visitors turn it over. Ioane chips and chase, regathers and finds Genia, who is wrapped up but that's slick play. Reds starting to heart up. They lead 13-6 and are threatening to extend that if they can keep some possesion.
29th min Genia away! Cuts them apart but blows it. Gill was on his outside but he did backflips to position Cooper on the inside. It was the wrong option but they manage to earn a penalty and Harris lines it up fro 44m out. Can he really kick this far? Really? He can! Wonders never cease. Reds lead this one 13-6.
26th min Jantjies baffles Harris and sends Taute straight through. The Reds scramble eventually but that's lazy defence. Derick Minnie infringes and the Reds get a chance to clear it away from their line. Reds 10 Lions 6.
24th min Meanwhile, Jenno asking the tough questions in the comments. First he asks me to spell "Leszczynski" then he wants to know about the naming of the conference system. Let me know what the thesaurus produces. Back in Brisbane, Mike Harris is about to have a shot at goal and gets it from almost in front. The Reds lead the Lions 10-6 as the tide starts to turn.
23rd min Horwill almost goes over as the Lions defence falls to bits. The big fella is just pulled down short of the line but he showed great pace for at least two or three strides. Lions end up getting a scrum and managed to hold on somehow. Reds 7 Lions 6.
20th min TRY to the Reds. Liam Gill burrows over after massive pressure from the Reds. The Lions just couldn't hold them out. Nothing fancy there. Pick-and-drive and the teenage flanker gets his second try in a Reds jumper. It's the Reds leading the Lions 7-6.
18th min Better stuff from the Reds now. Cooper heavily involved as they break clear and set up camp on the Lions line. They finally come to life.
17th min Cooper! Rust there. Big James Horwill, the former ruckman for the Kenmore Bears, was under a high ball and Cooper flew through to try and jump over him. They spill it together and it ends up in Reds hands - but the man was offside. And here we go - Jantjies knocks that penalty over and the Lions lead 6-0.
12th min Lions lead 3-0 after that penalty. And Jenno, the video official is Steve Leszczynski from Australia. That was difficult to type so don't say I never do anything for you. Let's hope he takes no part. Meanwhile, the Lions are having a real crack here. Got the Reds under the pump and they try a field goal from a tough spot, for some reason. Bizarre stuff. Reds need to lift dramatically. It's Lions 3 Reds 0.
9th min Lions slot it over and they get a well-earned 3-0 lead. Reds a little cold to start so far.
8th min Lions get a penalty and the Lions tap and go. Not interested in a rubbish penalty attempt. That's for sissies. Ross Cronje scurries away. And now they get another penalty. This time they are interested. It's about to be 3-0 you'd think.
5m 37s Cooper touched it. Caught and passed. And he's not injured. Mark that in your scrapbooks. It's 0-0.
5th min Liam Gill wins the penalty for the Reds. The kid just gets better and better. Ends up having a push and shove with his opposite number Grant Hattingh, who is about eight times Gill's size but not quite as good. Reds get a chance and Cooper might be about to get his first touch. Stay tuned.
4th min The Reds have never beaten the Lions at Suncorp Stadium. How embarrassment. Some excellent beards among the South Africans as well, so they are well on top in that department. No score yet.
3rd min Two corrections. The crowd isn't too bad after all and the Lions have made a promising start and get an attacking scrum right in front of the posts. They haven't given up at all. It's 0-0 but good chance for the visitors.
1st min We're off, Quade is defending on the wing and has made it through the opening minute. Promising start, although he hasn't scored yet. He'd be disappointed.
7.37pm The Lions have rolled out onto the park. They already look like they've given up.
7.33pm Not a huge crowd. Brisbane's Lions fans have failed to come out of the woodwork to try and rally their side into a stirring season comeback. A pretty decent yell for Cooper as he was flashed up on the screen. Mixed reaction to Scott Higginbotham, who is heading to the Rebels next season. He's dead to Reds fans now.
Preamble Well, well, well. Look who's back. Quade Cooper - remember that guy? - is back in Red for the first time this season after his knee buckled in the World Cup under the weight of a vengeful nation's scorn and ill-wishes. Nurtured back to health among friends at Ballymore, plenty of Ewen McKenzie's home cooking and the comfort of FIFA on the PS3, he is back on deck and starting against the Lions.
And don't the Reds need him. With those desperately annoying Brumbies continuing to win, the Reds finals hopes are now in some danger. Tonight, they need to put the cleaners through the Lions, who are so bad they lost to the Blues and have just a single win this season. A grinding triumph isn't enough. They need bonus points and momentum before a massive encounter with the Brumbies in Canberra next week. In short, they need to administer a proper flogging.
It was a slight shock to see Cooper start after his long layoff but I can see the reasoning. He will be able to find his way into the game and play to his tempo, rather than having to fit in with as system that will be up and running by the time he was given a gallop. If they get 60 minutes out of him, the Reds will be happy.
The jostle for positions on the ladder and Cooper's return has given what could have been a thoroughly dreary night of rugby lots of intrigue. We all win. Well, I win a bit more than you because you can watch something else. I'm here for ages.