The Queensland Reds could be without star playmaker Quade Cooper for several weeks, after he was shown a straight red card in the side's 44-14 loss to the Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Already down to 14 men after winger Eto Nabuli was shown a yellow card for cynical play in the 45th minute, Cooper was sent from the field a minute later for a high tackle on Rohan Janse van Rensburg as the Lions centre scored the home side's first try of the second half.

Reds winger Izaia Perese escaped sanction for a possible tip tackle in the same passage of play, quite likely saved by Cooper's more serious infringement.

The Reds had already lost skipper James Slipper, who was helped from the field in the first half with what he later said was either a torn calf muscle or a snapped achilles tendon. Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi was also seen hobbling early in the second half and played on after receiving treatment for his left knee.

Further second half tries to hooker Malcolm Marx and a second half treble to winger Courtnall Skosan - the second a brilliant individual effort - only underlined the 2016 finalists' comprehensive bonus point win.

Duncan Paia'aua scored for the Reds' in the 69th minute after a clever offload from fullback Karmichael Hunt, and replacement prop Taniela Tupou crossed in the final minutes from close range.

"We were pretty much humbled tonight," Slipper said immediately after the match.

"Credit has to go to the Lions, they're a physical team who can score points. "Our discipline has to be one of [the lessons to take from the game]. When you have a couple of cards, and then our set piece wasn't really functioning, it's hard to win games under that sort of pressure.

"I said before the game that if we play our game our game and play it well, we'll be competitive, and we didn't do that at all. The credit has to go to the Lions, they put us under pressure and capitalised."