Rebels coach Damien Hill was full of praise for his side after their 30-23 win over the Western Force in Melbourne on Friday.
The Melbourne-based side came back from a 11-0 deficit to secure the victory - their first opening-round triumph in their third season of Super Rugby.
Hill singled out his tight-five for special praise, particularly prop Laurie Weeks and locks Luke Jones and Hugh Pyle, whose efforts were rewarded with a second half try.
"In the first 20 minutes, we chose not to treasure possession and then the discipline started to go as fatigue started to build," Hill said.
"For the first 30 minutes, we were on the back foot but, to the players' credit, they were able to go into the second half still in the game.
"The second half, while not as clinical as we would have liked, was better."
Despite the defeat - their third successive one against the Rebels - Force boss Michael Foley said he was pleased with his charges' showing, especially their ball usage.
The Force suffered a setback in the second half when they were forced to play with 13 players for seven minutes after flanker Chris Alcock and then scrum-half Alby Mathewson were sent to the sin bin for off-the-ball incidents.
Foley wasn't too fazed about the yellow cards, saying sides were warned of a crackdown.
"The referees have warned us they are going to be particularly tough early in the season because they want to see the game open up," he said.
"If we've infringed and they've made those decisions, we accept that."