Quade Cooper kicked a penalty a minute from full time to hand the Reds a 17-16 victory over the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium which keeps the Reds at the top of the Super Rugby standings.
The Crusaders took a 16-14 lead with a penalty by Cooper's All Blacks opposite Dan Carter seven minutes before fulltime, but Cooper redeemed a mediocre goal-kicking performance by striking the winning penalty seconds from the final siren.
Cooper finished with three goals from six attempts while Carter landed four from five in a gripping contest between international rivals, set to meet again in the World Cup in New Zealand later this year.
The last-minute goal forced the fifth lead change in a match played before an Australian-record Super rugby attendance of 48,301, beating the previous mark of 42,237 when the Reds played the Waratahs in Brisbane in 2004.
Cooper's deciding penalty gave the Reds their 12th straight win on their home ground at Suncorp Stadium and put them four points clear of the Blues at the top of the Super 15 Rugby table.
The Crusaders suffered their fourth loss in 14 matches but remained in fourth place behind the Reds, Blues and South Africa's Stormers and ahead of the Sharks and Waratahs.
Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia scored one try and created another to keep the Reds in the match while Cooper struggled with his goalkicking, helping the Reds to a 14-10 lead five minutes into the second half.
The Crusaders fought back bravely with penalties to Carter in the 67th and 73rd minutes to reclaim the lead, but they finally paid for a heavy penalty count.
The winning goal came from the 11th penalty the Crusaders conceded in the match while Queensland, more disciplined, conceded only four.
The match was played at a frantic pace and with an almost test-match intensity but was lower scoring than might have been expected.
The Crusaders and Reds are the two best attacking units in this season's Super 15 with 42 and 40 tries respectively by the end of Sunday's match.
Instead it was a match of vigorous defenses which allowed only a tiny handful of try-scoring chances.
Genia exploited two, creating both tries from set pieces. He first took the ball from backrower Scott Higginbotham after an over-thrown Reds lineout and handed off with perfect timing to center Ben Tapuai who scored in the 22nd minute.
Genia then took advantage of quick ball from a pressured Queensland scrum on the Canterbury 22 meter line, to make a try-scoring dash down the blindside in the fifth minute of the second spell.
Queensland created marginally more line breaks than the Crusaders , principally through Genia, Cooper and Digby Ioane.
The Crusaders scored from one of their rare forays in the 28th minute when center Robbie Fruean broke away after a turnover and handed off to veteran winger Brent Ward when the cover defense was spent.
Reds captain James Horwill celebrated his birthday with a win which reinforced his team's championship credentials.
It was the Reds second straight win over the Crusaders after they also beat the seven-time champions in their only meeting last season.
"Probably the best birthday present I've received," Horwill said.
"It was a massive effort from the boys. It speaks volumes for what this group's about. We know the Crusaders are a quality side and they're always going to keep coming at us."
Crusaders captain Richie McCaw was responsible for conceding several of the penalties that eventually weighed down his team.
He acknowledged the Crusaders' poor discipline had proved costly in a tight match.
"I'm proud of the way we got ourselves back in the game and it was good old match," McCaw said.
"It never felt like we were out of it and I thought we played some pretty smart rugby and put them under pressure, especially in the first half.
"We didn't get the rewards we could have got ... but you can't afford to be ill-disciplined. These are the games you want to win and it's disappointing to come away with a loss."
Final Score Reds 17 Crusaders 16
Tries - B. Tapuai, W Genia
Pen - Q Cooper
Con - Q Cooper.
Tries - B Ward
Pen - D Carter 3
Con - D Carter
Attendance: 48 301
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nathan Pearce (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Lesczcynski (Australia)
Reds : 1. Ben Daley , 2. Saia Faingaa , 3. James Slipper , 4. Rob Simmons , 5. James Horwill (c) , 6. Scott Higginbotham , 7. Beau Robinson , 8. Radike Samo , 9. Will Genia (vc) , 10. Quade Cooper , 11. Digby Ioane , 12. Ben Tapuai , 13. Anthony Faingaa , 14. Luke Morahan , 15. Ben Lucas
Reserves : 16. James Hanson , 17. Greg Holmes , 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison , 19. Jake Schatz , 20. Ian Prior , 21. Will Chambers , 22. Dom Shipperley .
Crusaders :1. Wyatt Crockett , 2. Corey Flynn , 3. Owen Franks , 4. Brad Thorn , 5. Chris Jack , 6. George Whitelock , 7. Richie McCaw (c) , 8. Kieran Read , 9. Willi Heinz , 10. Dan Carter , 11. Zac Guildford , 12. Sonny Bill Williams , 13. Robbie Fruean , 14. Brent Ward , 15. Tom Marshall
Reserves :16. Quentin MacDonald , 17. Ben Franks , 18. Luke Romano , 19. Matt Todd , 20. Steve Alfeld , 21. Matt Berquist , 22. Ryan Crotty