Matt Toomua missed a shot at goal with the last kick of the game that would have pinched Melbourne Rebels an upset win over the Queensland Reds in a penalty-laden Super Rugby AU clash.
The Rebels rarely looked to score tries, preferring to accumulate points steadily through Toomua and Reece Hodge and led from the opening minute in a game that featured a staggering 32 penalties on Friday.
But two second-half tries from hooker Alex Mafi salvaged a 23-21 win for the Reds, who watched in glee as Toomua's last-gasp penalty shot sailed left of the uprights at Suncorp Stadium.
NRL recruit Suliasi Vunivalu's debut came with 16 minutes to go for the Reds and he almost made an instant impact.
The former Melbourne Storm winger chased a kick and almost got a hand on it before Joe Powell's boot narrowly beat him to it.
The Reds' win was their eighth straight victory at home and came despite a red card for prop Feao Fotuaika, who was judged to have caught the head of an opponent in a ruck clean-out with 23 minutes to play.
The game's final penalty also drew the ire of the crowd, with Hunter Paisami appearing to wrap the ball and upper torso of Frank Lomani.
But referee Jordan Way was leaving little room for error in a stop-start game which Toomua controlled for all but the final minutes.
Reds coach Brad Thorn lamented his side's unforced errors but was left frustrated by what transpired.
"What do you take from that? You take the win and you move on sometimes," he said.
"It's not preferable there for a crowd or new audience (who want) some rugby played.
"But we're trying to play, we want what you want and it just didn't happen that way tonight ... but I like that the lads found a way."
The loss was a brutal one for the Rebels, who only flew into Brisbane on Friday morning and have been housed in Canberra after making a last-minute dash out of Melbourne to avoid a lockdown that would have meant they were unable to enter Queensland at all.
"I feel like I'm in an episode of the Amazing Race just travelling around the country," Rebels coach Dave Wessels said.
"But we travel with 45, it's not like you can just book like you're going away for the weekend with your wife.
"I've come here under very difficult circumstances ... I don't care if I had to claw by my fingernails, we had to win.
"We were never going to play Barbarian-style rugby, but it doesn't mean that later in the season we can't."
Australian Associated Press