Quade Cooper’s boot fired and James O’Connor’s misfired as the Reds outlasted the Rebels in Melbourne.
The Reds won 23-13 after the Rebels scored just before half-time to lead 13-10.
Cooper kicked with greater authority and O’Connor’s three penalty misses from five attempts came at decisive moments in the match.
The Rebels enjoyed the better first half but the Reds were dominant in the second half and never looked in danger of losing the match.
Both teams showed good attacking intent but committed defence prevailed and contributed to the low-scoring nature of the match.
O’Connor, starting at No 10 because of injury to Kurtley Beale, played well but his goalkicking, so good in recents weeks, was a disappointment against the Reds.
Cooper was equally effective in general play but the accuracy of his goalkicking gave the Reds second half reward and a match-winning result.
The Rebels, victorious against the Force in the season opener, have lost their last two matches against Australian opposition.
By Mark Keohane