A late flurry of Chiefs tries have halted a resurgent Rebels outfit, as they fell 27-14 in a valiant performance at AAMI Park.
The home side played an unrecognisable brand of rugby compared to the dismal showings in their first two starts.
They defended with vigour, controlled the battle of the breakdown and attacked with a purpose not seen against the Blues and Hurricanes.
Jackson Garden-Bachop thrived with front foot ball at flyhalf and Jack Debreczini played his best game since switching to fullback.
Amanaki Mafi and Colby Fainga'a were immense at the breakdown, forcing four penalties between them.
But the Chiefs' class prevailed despite the vast improvement, as a triple-whammy of tries from Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane and Shaun Stevenson secured victory just when it looked as though they might be the victims of the upset of 2017.
The wayward boot of Reece Hodge was the story of the first half, as he shanked three very kickable penalties in the first 20 minutes.The Rebels were forced to make 28 tackles to eight in the first 12 minutes but finished the first quarter of the match on top, making better strides over the gain line when they did touch the ball.
The visitors' try in the 23rd minute, which opened the scoring, was painted with a touch of luck.
As the Chiefs attacked the Rebels' line, Tom English stripped the ball off Tom Sanders only for the ball to fall at the feet of Dom Bird, who will not score an easier try this season.The first of two Chiefs yellow cards was shown to Liam Messam five minutes later and Garden-Bachop calmly stepped up to slot his first penalty of the night.
The Chiefs regained some control at the breakdown in the remainder of the second term, though the Rebels set piece held up better than expected through the first 40 minutes.
Marika Koroibete showed why the Rebels were so keen to snap him up from the Melbourne Storm five minutes into the second half.
The prized recruit showed a clean pair of heels to finish a superb attacking movement by the home side - sparked by a clever touch pass from Debreczini - who was among the Rebels' best.The boot of Garden-Bachop earned another three points after Fainga'a forced another penalty 35 metres out from the Chiefs line with 53 minutes on the clock.
Chiefs winger Solomona Ailamalo was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Sefa Naivalu four minutes later but the Rebels failed to take advantage of the extra man for the second time in the match.
Trailing 11-7 with 13 minutes to play, Brodie Retallick reaped the rewards of a powerful Chiefs maul, driving his way over to score his second try in as many weeks.Jonathan Faauli was penalised for a shoulder charge with 10 minutes to play and Garden-Bachop kicked his third penalty of the night to draw the home side level at 14-all.
McKenzie put his team back in front with a penalty at the 75 minute mark before Cane and Stevenson's tries put the result beyond doubt.
Pens: Garden-Bachop 3
Tries: Bird, Rettalick, Cane, Stevenson
Cons: McKenzie 2