Lions coach Warren 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.
The Reds, playing in white, ran the Lions ragged and even led courtesy of winger Luke Morahan's brilliant individual try. They added a second after the break through scrum-half Nick Frisby.
The tourists kept their composure, however, and replied with a try from Ben Youngs before the interval while their dominance of the set piece helped towards fly-half Farrell's tally of five penalties and a conversion.
"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, 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.
Reds captain Quade Cooper, looking to seal a spot in the Wallabies squad for the test series that begins at the same stadium on June 22, directed the Reds up-tempo attack with aplomb but also made a couple of glaring errors.
The fly-half, controversially left out of the initial Wallabies squad, missed a kickable penalty and flung one no-look defensive pass into space which the Lions pounced on and only just failed to hack on for a try.
"We tried to keep the tempo up throughout the match and do what we do best which is run it around," said Cooper. "We left everything out on the park and we did our club and our state proud."
Morahan served notice of his form with a sizzling early break before making a try-saving tackle on Lions winger Alex Cuthbert in the ninth minute, but that was only a taster for his try, which came after a Farrell up-and-under in the 17th minute.
The one-cap Wallaby took the ball at halfway and stormed up-field, leaving Cuthbert in his wake before swerving past Warburton and chipping the ball over Stuart Hogg before touching down under the posts.
Cooper converted to put the Reds 7-3 ahead and the Queenslanders in the 50,136 crowd were roaring but another huge Lions effort at the scrum forced the home pack to collapse and Farrell narrowed the margin with his second penalty.
Bowe had already showed that the Lions wingers could run too, and George North, an early replacement for the injured Manu Tuilagi, joined in with relish.
The Welshman stormed up the touchline after 32 minutes before feeding inside to Farrell but Morahan was there again and the England fly-half knocked on in the tackle with the try-line at his mercy.
After all the fine attacking play, the first Lions try came from a mistake at the back of the ensuing scrum when Reds number eight Jake Schatz knocked the ball back and scrum-half Youngs poked it over the line with his heel before touching down.
Another searing North break three minutes later set Warburton free for a run to the line but the flanker did not quite have the legs and was swallowed up by three tacklers and held up.
Farrell slotted his third penalty on the stroke of halftime and made it 19-7 with his fourth 10 minutes after the restart, a reward for a long period of pressure in the Reds' 22.
The Reds were still making every attempt to get out of their half and winger Rod Davies succeeded in the 63rd minute, breaking up the touchline before passing inside to scrum-half Frisby who had a clear run for the line.
The usually deadly-accurate Mike Harris somehow hit the upright with the conversion attempt, while Farrell slotted his fifth and final penalty with four minutes left as the players tired and the conditions deteriorated in the Queensland rain.
"They played better percentage footy in the end and we probably didn't get as much set piece ball as we wanted," said Reds coach Ewen McKenzie.
"In the end I can't say I was unhappy, there was a lot of blood out there ..."