The Melbourne Rebels held off a fighting Queensland Reds outfit to take their second win of 2016, 25-23.
After leading by as many as 16 points during the match, the Rebels coughed up their advantage with 14 minutes left, before a Jack Debreczeni penalty handed them back the lead.
Debreczeni’s boot proved pivotal for the Rebels, as he scored a career-high 20 points in the game, capitalising on opportunities presented to him as Queensland racked up the penalties..
A gritty defensive display from the Rebels was decisive as the Reds hammered their line in the final minutes.
Rebels fullback Jonah Placid pounced on a Ben Meehan grubber in 15th minute, winning a footrace against Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby to extend the Rebels’ lead to 13 points.
Meehan continued to show his 2016 form, while captain Sean McMahon was at his bullocking best, bulldozing any man in his sight.
The Rebels showed they weren’t intimidated by the Reds’ set piece reputation, tight heading the visitors in the first half.
Reds fullback Karmichael Hunt repaid the faith shown by coaching staff, generating some attack for Queensland with a freedom rarely seen form the code hopper since he joined the Reds.
Frisby clinched his side’s first of the night in the 35th minute, collecting an offload off blindside Hendrik Tui, after a blistering run from the breakaway.
A penalty just before half time, through Reds flyhalf Jake McIntyre, narrowed the margin to six points, minimizing the Rebels’ early ascendency.
Debreczeni added three points just one minute into the second half, but his opposite number Jake McIntyre had a quick reply.
A try to rookie hooker Andrew Ready followed by a McIntyre penalty stole the lead for the Reds in the 66th minute before Debreczeni clinched the sealing three-pointer.
Anthony Fainga’a’s return was soured by a 73rd minute yellow card that made the Reds comeback attempt that little bit more difficult.
The match gave the Reds their first points of the season, with a losing bonus point to take back to Ballymore.
Rebels 25 (Tries: Placid; Conversions: Debreczeni 1, Pens: Debreczeni 6 )
Reds 23 (Tries: Frisby, Ready, Cons: McIntyre 2, Pens McIntyre 3)