Two tries from Ben Tapuai helped the Reds record a thrilling triumph over the Waratahs in an action-packed Super 15 encounter at Suncorp Stadium.
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The Waratahs looked overawed in the early going, but came back admirably in the second period, before a late Reds surge saw them over the line.
In an open and entertaining but mistake-ridden first half, the Reds stormed to a 17-3 lead after 15 minutes thanks to tries from Dom Shipperley and Tapuai, and managed to hold their advantage to the break.
The Waratahs struck back in the second period through Israel Folau and Ben Volavola to tie the scores at 17-17, but Tapuai nabbed his second try in the dying minutes to secure victory for the home side.
All eyes were on ex-Brisbane Bronco Folau, and the rugby league and AFL convert's first touch, wide on the left, resulted in a penalty when the Reds defenders who swarmed him failed to release in time.
Brendan McKibbin converted the chance to give the Waratahs a 3-0 lead, in what would prove their only points of the first half.
Six minutes in Shipperley crossed for the opening try of the night in the right corner, after Quade Cooper held up a pass just long enough to send the Reds winger on his way.
Adam Ashley-Cooper and Folau should have done better in defence, allowing Shipperley to crash right through them.
The Waratahs looked shaken by the early assault, and prop Sekope Kepu inexplicably threw a pass off the ground near the halfway line which went straight to Tapuai, who streaked away for Queensland's second five-pointer.
Both tries were converted by Mike Harris, and when he lobbed over a simple penalty goal following more Reds pressure, the home side had raced to 17-3 lead after 15 minutes.
A missed McKibbon penalty for the Waratahs did not alter the perception they were feeling a little overwhelmed by the occasion.
Cooper continued to taunt the New South Wales defence with a probing grubber kick and audacious behind-the-back pass.
McKibbon once again missed a shot at goal after Ashley-Cooper was brutally taken out by Harris when chasing a kick.
Waratahs prop Kane Douglas came within centimetres of scoring his side's first try on 31 minutes when he charged down a kick and showed impressive pace for a big man to narrowly beat Cooper in a race to the ball.
The video referee decided the ball had been knocked on, however, as Douglas appeared to plant it just short of the try-line.
The Waratahs displayed plenty of desire to peg back the deficit, but sloppy handling took the sting out of several promising attacks and they went into the break 14 points adrift.
McKibbin lost his 100 per cent kicking record when his penalty attempt hit the upright early in the second half.
The Waratahs found themselves right back in the contest when Folau scored his first try in Super Rugby, picking up a Bernard Foley pass off his ankles to dive over in the corner. Foley made no mistake with the kick to bring the visitors within a converted try of the Reds.
NSW were back on the attack soon after, but a superb passing move came unstuck when Mitchell Chapman fumbled within sight of the line.
Volavola showed his class when he received a Foley cut-out pass wide on the left, threw a dummy and galloped past Harris to touch down in the corner. With the Foley conversion, the scores were all tied up with 20 minutes to go.
The Reds were under the pump from a Waratahs outfit that could rely on plenty of forward power off the bench.
The home side managed to stem the blue tide and enjoy some of the possession they used so well in the first half.
They edged in front again courtesy of a Harris penalty from half a metre inside the halfway line.
Tapuai then scored the try of the match for Queensland, following a barnstorming run from blindside Ed Quirk.
When the Reds forced a turnover, Quirk powered through five Waratahs players before eventually being mowed down by Folau.
Tapuai was on hand for the offload, though, and dived over to make the try count three to two with five minutes left.
The Waratahs did not have enough gas left in the tank to come back a second time, giving the Reds their first win of the campaign.