The Reds moved provisionally top of the Super Rugby table after a late penalty from Quade Cooper saw them edge the Blues 12-11.
The Reds moved provisionally top of the Super Rugby standings after a late penalty from Quade Cooper saw them edge past the Blues 12-11 on Friday.
It looked like being the New Zealand conference pace-setter's day when the second-half remained scoreless at 9-11 in favour of the hungry Blues.
However, an offence at a Reds driving maul in the 75th minute led to Wallaby fly-half outcast Cooper stepping up to seal four vital points in Brisbane.
The result leaves the Reds two points clear of the Brumbies, who play the Force on Saturday while the Blues are two above the Chiefs, who tackle the Sharks so both could drop down the ladder.
Penalties were exchanged between Cooper and Chris Noakes in the first 12 minutes as both sides traded one shot against each other in an exciting opening at Suncorp Stadium.
Cooper knocked over his second attempt three minutes later after the Blues were penalised at a ruck by South African referee Craig Joubert before debutant Albert Nikoro landed a long-range effort from 50 metres that tied things up at six apiece. It was a fair reflection of the proceedings.
The steady Cooper was on hand to make it 9-6 off the kicking tee with 29 minutes gone after Blues loosehead prop Tom McCartney was penalised for illegal scrummaging. But that only served to stir the Blues to life as sustained pressure led to centre Jackson Willison sliding over in the corner for an unconverted try. That score made it 9-11 to the Blues at the break.
The second-half was one of missed opportunities as the action remained scoreless after wing Nikoro missed from distance before Cooper shanked a simple penalty to the left.
The Blues were holding on despite being under serious pressure from the Reds while offering regular threats of their own, with Rene Ranger prominent at outside centre.
However, a late offence from Blues openside Daniel Braid coming around the side at a maul allowed Cooper to have his moment and put Ewen McKenzie's side top of the pile.
Pen: Cooper 4
Pen: Noakes, Nikoro
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 22 Dom Shipperley.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Albert Nikoro, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tom McCartney.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Francis Saili.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)