The Reds recorded their third straight win in their Super Rugby title defence as they ousted Melbourne Rebels 11-6 at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
It was hardly vintage rugby from the champions as they were pushed all the way by the competition's newest franchise in a cagey contest in Brisbane.
Their sole try came courtesy of Dom Shipperley five minutes before the hour, which was the first time they had led matters against their visitors.
Prior to that, inside centre James O'Connor had opened the scoring following a concerted period of pressure from the fired-up Rebels, who were looking to right the wrongs of their humiliating opening fixture against the Reds of last year.
He added his second three-pointer on 32 minutes as the Rebels continued to win both the attacking and defensive battle against what seemed like a tired champion outfit, who were struggling to fire.
Two players struggling to find their rhythm were half-back duo Will Genia and Mike Harris, with the latter losing his 100 per cent kicking record after failing with a couple of attempts at goal.
Ewen McKenzie's charges stepped up the tempo in the second-half and were rewarded when Shipperley latched on to a long pass from Genia to score a decisive try in the corner.
The victory took the Reds to the top of the Australian conference but level on points with the Brumbies, who beat the Cheetahs 24-23 in the final minute in Canberra earlier on Saturday.
The Reds now head to South Africa for two matches, first against the Sharks in Durban next Saturday, but will need to up their performance if they are to keep their winning record going.
Pen: Harris 2
Pen: O'Connor 2
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Jono Lance, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Van Humphries, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Rod Davies.
Rebels: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 James O'Connor, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Richard Kingi, 8 Gareth Delve (capt), 7 Tom Chamberlain, 6 Tim Davidson, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Adam Freier, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Rodney Blake, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nick Phipps, 21 Lachlan Mitchell, 22 Julian Huxley.
Referee: Ian Smith (Australia)