QUEENSLAND are breathing down the Brumbies' necks after holding off the fast-finishing Rebels in Melbourne last night.
The Reds ruined the Rebels' plans to send retiring skipper Stirling Mortlock out a winner, running in four tries to grab a bonus-point win and move level with the Australian conference leaders, who play tonight against the Western Force.
The Rebels blew two early try-scoring opportunities, while the Reds took their chances to storm to a 24-3 half-time lead.
The Wallabies' five-eighth stocks took a beating, with both No.10s Quade Cooper and James O'Connor departing early in the second half. Kurtley Beale managed to play out the match, but looked troubled by his recent rib injury.
Cooper, coming back after a knee reconstruction, was reportedly benched as a precaution, while O'Connor suffered a slight hamstring strain.
Queensland scored three first-half tries, the second from winger Dom Shipperley among the season's best.
From a tight-head scrum 20 metres out, Reds inside-centre Mike Harris's chip and regather released Anthony Fainga'a, who found Shipperley. He fed Chris Feauai-Sautia, and the winger managed to pass back inside for Shipperley to score.
The Reds withstood a concerted second-half fightback from the Rebels before a late try in the corner to youngster Nick Frisby sealed the win and a precious bonus point.
In last night's other game, the Chiefs cemented a playoff spot with a 27-21 win over the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
QUEENSLAND REDS 32 (Chris Feauai-Sautia, Nick Frisby, Dom Shipperley, Adam Wallace-Harrison tries Michael Harris 3 cons 2 pens) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 17 (Kurtley Beale, Lachlan Mitchell tries Beale, Julian Huxley cons James O'Connor pen) at AAMI Park. Referee: Keith Brown. Crowd: 14,110.
AAP and NZN