Reds pivot Quade Cooper slotted a 79th minute penalty to steal a last-gasp 17-16 win over the Crusaders in Brisbane on Sunday.
The two tries to one victory keeps the Queenslanders top of the Super Rugby standings, but Crusaders fans will feel hard done by with referee Stu Dickinson's penalty against their team that led to Cooper's match-winning kick.
The Crusaders led 10-7 at half-time and looked to be home and dry thanks to two Dan Carter penalties in the final 11 minutes. But the Reds found a second wind and, after moving into field position, they showed patience, completing multiple phases before Crusaders skipper Richie McCaw was deemed to have infringed and conceded a penalty.
Cooper stepped up to convert his first penalty of the day, after missing three in the first half.
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 a capacity crowd of 48,301.
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 Rugby table.
The Crusaders suffered their fourth loss in 14 matches but remained in fourth place behind the Reds, Blues and Stormers but ahead of the Sharks and Waratahs.
Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia scored one try and created another, helping Queensland 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 match was played at a frantic pace and with an almost Test-match intensity but was lower scoring than might have been expected. 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 flank Scott Higginbotham after an over-thrown Reds' line-out 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 Crusaders' 22, to make a try-scoring dash down the blindside in the fifth minute of the second spell.
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 winger Brent Ward when the cover defense was spent.
It was the Reds second straight win over the Crusaders after they also beat the seven-time Super Rugby champions in their only meeting last season.
Tries: Tapuai, Genia
Pens: Carter 3
Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jake Schatz, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Will Chambers, 22 Dom Shipperley.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Brent Ward, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Luke Romano. 19 Matt Todd/Joe Wheeler, 20 Steve Alfeld, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Ryan Crotty.
Referee: Stu Dickinson