The Rebels did take the lead when Matt Toomua took advantage of an early penalty.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors in an opening period characterised by both teams’ willingness to kick for territory rather than run the ball.
The Reds breakthrough came in the 14th minute after Tate McDermott found youngster Jordan Petaia off the back of a scrum. The winger charged through a gap and grounded the ball to notch his first try of the season, in his first starting appearance of the campaign.
One-time Rebels superstar James O’Connor kicked the conversion, making him the seventh Australian in Super Rugby to reach 600 points.
For a team that had only managed three points in 70 minutes, there was not going to be a recovery in the last 10.
The Reds went further ahead some 14 minutes later following an adventurous run out of his own half by Reds full back Jock Campbell, whose pace and step allowed him to break the Rebels’ defensive line and set up Filipo Daugunu. His pass outside allowed Brandon Paenga-Amosa to find the gap and go over, O’Connor converting.
The Reds went to the interval with a 14-3 advantage, but the Rebels began the second period intent on reducing the deficit.
They camped near the host’s line in the opening minutes but some stout defence from the Reds kept the Rebels at bay.
By the halfway mark of the second half, the Rebels had 77 per cent. But even though they mounted a series of sustained attacks, grounding the ball agonisingly close to the Reds’ tryline, they came up short on every occasion as the Queenslanders hung on grimly.
In the final minutes of the game, the Reds rubbed salt into the Rebels’ wounds, O’Connor setting up Hamish Stuart for an excellent individual try to stretch the lead to 16 points. For a team that had only managed three points in 70 minutes, there was not going to be a recovery in the last 10.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing