The Rebels' path to a maiden finals campaign just became a whole lot tougher, the Reds walking away from a weird and wacky match with a 37-23 win.
Weird and wacky doesn't even begin to describe this match, which took a whole 30 minutes to come alight and after that, was as patchy as Super Rugby matches come.
It was a choppy, comedy of errors type match which was entertaining because it was close and filled with some individual moments of brilliance, not because it was an enthralling encounter of any sort.
Both sides played with intent but outside of a sublime passing exchange which put Angus Cottrell over for Melbourne's first - that intent reaped very little reward.
The Queensland attack floundered without the majority of their strike weapons in the outside backs sidelined and that left their scrum as the only asset of significance.
Fortunately for Reds fans, it proved borderline unstoppable.The Taniela Tupou led assault forced six first half penalties - including a penalty try - and was the catalyst for the post siren Filipo Daugunu try, when Scott Higginbotham plucked the ball from the back of another dominant drive, went to the blindside and flicked it to the Fijian flyer to put his side in front 24-17 at the break.
The home side's third five pointer was reward for another Izack Rodda one percenter which set the Reds alight - charging down a Jack Maddocks kick in the 38th minute, cleaning up the crumbs and diving over the line.
The big second rower was pumped and it was the rocket the Reds needed, as they were mighty dour in the first 30 minutes.
The Rebels were consistently threatening when they had the pill through the first 30 minutes and scored a superb team try through Cottrell in which Dane Haylett-Petty, Maddocks, Reece Hodge and Michael Ruru all had picture perfect touches.
Their other five pointer came when Jack Maddocks caught both Higginbotham and Caleb Timu napping, exploiting the truck sized hole between the pair to go over untouched from 40 out.That was all the scoring action the first term contained and it sent the two teams into the sheds with Melbourne's season well and truly on the line.
A pair of Hodge penalties then brought the visitors within one in the first 10 minutes after play resumed but a slogfest followed for the next 23 minutes.
That was when Petaia sized the Melbourne defence up, took Tom English on and slipped a deft offload to a flying Lance, who slid over the line untouched.
The fullback converted from near the sideline to open up a 14 point lead and that was all she wrote, the Reds making Melbourne's quest for a maiden finals berth mighty hard with the most peculiar of wins.
If the Rebels turn in a similar performance in Dunedin this time next week they won't be featuring in the postseason.
Tries: Penalty Try, Rodda, Daugunu, Lance
Cons: Lance 3
Pens: Lance 3
Tries: Cottrell, Maddocks
Cons: Hodge 2
Pens: Hodge 3