The Melbourne Rebels gave themselves a confidence booster for the upcoming season when they beat the Queensland Reds 13 -18 at Ballymore Stadium on Friday.
The result means that the Rebels have gone through their Super Rugby warm ups unbeaten.
The Reds will be concerned as Quade Cooper was carried off the field on a stretcher in a neck brace.
With four foundation Rebels taking the field in the starting line up, Scott Higginbotham and the Rebels had their sights set firmly on winning its final pre-season match before their opening bye, with the next outing not scheduled until Friday February 28, at AAMI Park.
The match began with plenty of intent, with both teams looking to consolidate with early field position. Missed penalty attempts by Quade Cooper and Bryce Hegarty were soon rectified by a pair of Cooper penalties, which gave the Reds a 6 point lead early in the match.
The Rebels' continued to defend well and dominate the scrum, however, the home side jumped to a 13-0 advantage when Wallaby flanker Liam Gill chipped ahead for Will Genia to score underneath the posts, in which Cooper converted, giving the home side a 13-0 advantage going into quarter time.
The Rebels returned in the second quarter with no substitutions and carried most of the momentum, as they looked to bridge the 13-point deficit. In a solid performance at fullback, Angus Roberts eased the pressure for the Rebels shortly after the break.
Following a series of great play by the forwards, the deep attacking space allowed Hegarty to grubber through the Reds defensive line, presenting Roberts the opportunity to dive on the ball over the paint and give the Rebels their first try of the match.
A Quade Cooper high tackle on Rebels Captain Scott Higgibotham allowed Hegarty to step up once again and deliver another three points to the Rebels, to close the gap and trial by only 13-10.
The Rebels gained confidence following a dominant set piece, with the visitors continuing to dominate at scrum time, however it was the outside backs who delivered the next blow to the 2011 Super Rugby Champions.
Tamati Ellison's quick hands and acceleration fed Tom English down the short side, who fell inches short of the try-line, before a quick recycled ball to Luke Burgess gave Scott Fuglistaller the Rebels second five pointer.
Hegarty missed the conversion but the Rebels led 15-13 at the half time break and for the first time in the match. Hegarty looked to extend the lead for the Rebels with a penalty attempt on the back of some great defensive work from Sean McMahon.
The kick was successful, giving the Rebels a further three points and an 18-0 run against the home team.
Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan sort changes, benching Toby Smith and Laurie Weeks in the front row, along with Sean McMahon and Scott Fuglistaller in the backrow. Angus Roberts also left the field, however returned in the final stage of the match with the unlimited interchange laws.
The match progressed into the final quarter with the Rebels making further changes, as Jason Woodward and Tom Kingston entered the match, as well as the return of Caderyn Neville's who played his first match of the season following a hamstring injury.
Rebels backrower Lopeti Timani made an immediate impact, while Colby Fainga'a also made an impression against his brothers Sia and Anthony in defence. Steve Fualau subbed for Pat Leafa at hooker, who had his best match for the Rebels this season.
The Rebels and Reds traded long range scoring opportunities before a dramatic ending, which saw Reds' playmaker Quade Cooper fall awkwardly into a Timani collision.
Cooper was slow to respond from the tackle and was stretchered from the field as a precaution.
He will undergo precautionary scans. With the Reds having one final opportunity with 30 seconds remaining on their own try-line the Rebels again dominated the scrum, and were award the penalty in font of the posts, in whcih Jason Woodward kicked the ball into touch after the siren.
The Reds start their Super Rugby season against the Brumbies in Canberra while the Rebels start their Super Rugby season in Round 3 against the Cheetahs in Melbourne as they have a bye next week.
Final Score Reds 13 (13) Rebels 18 (15)
Tries - Will Genia
Pen - Quade Cooper 2
Con - Quade Cooper
Tries - Angus Roberts, Scott Fuglistaller
Pen - Bryce Hegarty 2
Con - Bryce Hegarty
1. James Slipper , 2. Saia Fainga'a , 3. Greg Holmes , 4. Rob Simmons , 5. James Horwill (C) , 6. Eddie Quirk , 7. Liam Gill , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Will Genia (VC) , 10. Quade Cooper , 11. Dom Shipperley , 12. Mike Harris , 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia , 14. Rod Davies , 15. Lachie Turner
Replacements : Ben Daley, James Hanson, Jono Owen, Blake Enever, Ed O'Donoghue, Curtis Browning, Nick Frisby, Chris Kuridrani, Anthony Fainga'a, Ben Tapuai, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.
1. Toby Smith , 2. Pat Leafa , 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Hugh Pyle , 5. Luke Jones , 6. Sean McMahon , 7. Scott Fuglistaller , 8. Scott Higginbotham (C) , 9. Luke Burgess , 10. Bryce Hegarty , 11. Tom English , 12. Tamati Ellison , 13. Mitch Inman , 14. Lachlan Mitchell , 15. Angus Roberts
Replacements : 16. Unassigned , 17. Steve Fualau , 18. Paul Alo-Emile , 19. Cadeyrn Neville , 20. Colby Fainga’a , 21. Ben Meehan , 22. Telusa Veainu , 23. Tom Kingston , 24. Max Lahiff , 25. Jason Woodward , 26. Lopeti Timani