The Rebels held off a second half comeback from the Reds to earn their second victory of the season and win the match 25-23 in Melbourne.
The Reds outscored the Rebels by two tries to one and took the lead in the final quarter but Rebels kicker Jack Debreczeni kicked six penalties the last of which put the home side back into the lead.
Debreczeni’s 20 points with the boot from six penalties and a conversion is a personal record for him in a Super Rugby match.
The Rebels looked fatigued at times after travelling back from South Africa for the match and allowed the Reds to come back from being 6-0 down after 35 minutes to take the lead.
It has been a difficult week for the Reds after they sacked coach Richard Graham and for a short while it looked like the new coaching regime of Matt O’Connor and Nick Stiles might win their first match.
Jake McIntyre had kicked the Reds to a 23-22 lead with 13 minutes remaining only to lose centre Anthony Fainga’a to the sin bin for the final stages of the game.
Debreczeni kicked the Rebels back to the front with 11 minutes left but the home side had to defend desperately as the undermanned Reds fought back through multiple phases inside Melbourne’s quarter before time ran out.
The Reds scored two tries to one with McIntyre landing three penalties and two conversions.
Fullback Jonah Placid scored off a grubber kick by scrum-half Ben Meehan in the 14th minute but Queensland scored twice through scrum-half Nick Frisby and hooker Andrew Ready.
Japanese World Cup star Ayumu Goromaru, who was dropped to the bench after playing in the 22-6 loss to Western Force last week, did not come on as a replacement in the match.
“The Reds were out to smash us and put us on the back foot and we put in a real gutsy effort. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Rebels skipper Sean McMahon said.
The Reds skipper Rob Simmons said ill-discipline had cost his side.
“We knew we were right in it right through the whole game and it was just our discipline that let us down from the start to finish,” Simmons said.
“But I’m really proud of the guys but that’s the start and we have to get better again.”
The result puts the Rebels into third place in the Australasian group and second in the Australian Conference.
The Reds earned their first points in the standings from the match as they picked up a losing bonus point.
Next week the Reds host the Blues in Brisbane while the Rebels travel to Tokyo to play the Sunwolves.
Final Score Rebels 25 (16) Reds 23 (10)
Tries – J.Placid
Pen – J.Debreczeni 6
Con – J.Debreczeni
Tries -N.Frisby, A.Ready
Pen – J.McIntyre 3
Con – J.McIntyre 2
Cards -A.Fainga’a (72nd min yellow)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 1:Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2:Ed Martin
TMO : Peter Marshall
Attendance : 10114
1. Toby Smith , 2. James Hanson , 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Luke Jones , 5. Lopeti Timani , 6. Jordy Reid , 7. Sean McMahon (captain) , 8. Adam Thomson , 9. Ben Meehan , 10. Jack Debreczeni , 11. Tom English , 12. Mitch Inman , 13. Sione Tuipulotu , 14. Dom Shipperley , 15. Jonah Placid
Replacements : 6. Pat Leafa , 17. Cruze Ah Nau , 18. Jamie Hagan , 19. Sam Jeffries , 20. Steve Cummins , 21. Mick Snowden , 22. Dan Hawkins , 23. Kotaro Matsushima
1. Sef Fa’agase (run-on debut) , 2. Andrew Ready (run-on debut) , 3. Greg Holmes , 4. Cadeyrn Neville , 5. Rob Simmons (C) , 6. Hendrik Tui , 7. Waita Setu (run-on debut) , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Nick Frisby , 10. Jake McIntyre , 11. Eto Nabuli , 12. Anthony Fainga’a , 13. Samu Kerevi , 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia , 15. Karmichael Hunt
Replacements : 16. Matt Mafi (potential Queensland/Super Rugby debut) , 17. Ben Daley , 18. Sam Talakai , 19. Ben Matwijow , 20. Curtis Browning , 21. Scott Gale , 22. Sam Greene , 23. Ayumu Goromaru