THE Reds have kicked off their campaign in sensational fashion, holding off the fast-finishing Brumbies 27-17 in Canberra.
Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg had a night to forget, missing a penalty to draw the scores level in the 73rd minute, then dropping the ball cold on his line at the death to gift reserve Reds outside back Chris Feauai-Sautia the match-sealing try.
Wallabies No.10 Quade Cooper was brilliant for the visitors, throwing pinpoint long passes for the Reds' first two tries as well as kicking 12 points in front of a crowd of 13,670 at Canberra Stadium,.
Former Waratahs winger Lachlan Turner also had a brilliant night in his new colours, scoring the opening try and making three desperate tackles in the Reds' last line of defence in the first half, which included holding up Mogg over the line in the 30th minute.
Meanwhile Brumbies star flanker David Pocock was solid in his first professional match since injuring his knee 11 months ago, forcing the odd turnover.
The Reds were in control until a yellow card to prop Greg Holmes in the 53rd minute, the Brumbies making the most of the numerical advantage through a try to fullback Jesse Mogg to narrow the gap to 20-17.
Despite the departure of their World Cup-winning coach Jake White late last year, the Brumbies didn't stray far from the territorial based game plan that took them to last year's grand final.
However a steady breeze saw several of their kicks drift out into touch on the full, including two first-half restarts.
The Brumbies struggled to find an answer for the Reds' dominant defence, often peddling backwards before kicking away possession.
The Brumbies' themselves rushed up in defence out wide with a clear plan to disrupt the attacking flair of Cooper, and it worked early.
However the Wallabies No.10 managed to find an answer by delaying his distribution with a double pump before throwing a long cut-out pass, putting Turner over in the corner in the 18th minute for his first Super Rugby try since late 2010.
Reds' livewire fullback Aidan Toua then quickly lived up to his pre-season hype, cracking the Brumbies defence following another long cut-out pass from Cooper, before sprinting 55 metres and selling Mogg a dummy to help put the Queenslanders up 14-6.
Both sides traded penalties to head into the break 17-9, then again after the break, before Mogg sliced the Reds open and scored - but the Brumbies' fullback's night would go all downhill from there.
Brumbies outside centre Andrew Smith went off in the second half with a concussion.
A DOMINANT forward pack and the accurate goalkicking boot of Pat Lambie have carried the Sharks to a 27-9 win over the Hurricanes in Durban.
The South African side made it two comfortable results from two following their 31-16 win over the Bulls last week to go to the top of the Super Rugby standings ahead of a bye next weekend.
The Hurricanes tasted defeat in their first game after conceding a try in each half and being largely outplayed up front.
Lambie kicked 17 points in a six-from-seven return, taking advantage of his team's dominance in possession and territory.
He slotted an early penalty and converted a 20th minute try to flanker Willem Alberts which rewarded the home side's early command of the scrums and mauls.
The Hurricanes struck back through penalties to five-eighth Beauden Barrett and fullback Marty Banks - the latter a 55m kick - to trail just 10-6 at halftime.
Lambie and Barrett traded penalties soon after the break before Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo broke the game open with an intercept try, gratefully snaffling a loose Banks pass and racing 40m to score untouched.
Any hopes of a late Hurricanes comeback were snuffed out by a yellow card handed to flanker Adam Hill for a lifting tackle on Mvovo with 8min to play.
The Sharks dominated the closing stages, allowing Lambie to kick his fourth and fifth penalties.
Banks made an accomplished debut at fullback while halfback TJ Perenara and flanker Jack Lam were influential at times for the Hurricanes, who face another daunting fixture against the Stormers in Cape Town next week.
A BENJI Marshall-inspired comeback has fallen short in his Super Rugby debut, as his Blues were shocked 29-21 by the Highlanders in Dunedin.
Marshall, who starred at five-eighth during an 11-year NRL career, was injected at fullback with 21 minutes remaining to help the Blues launch a late surge after they trailed 24-0 at halftime on Saturday night.
The former Kiwis captain produced some nice touches, including a trademark flick pass which sparked a try to reserve forward Patrick Tuipulotu, but he couldn't carry the error-plagued Blues to victory.
It was an encouraging result for a Highlanders side featuring five players new to Super Rugby and four others making their first appearance for the side.
They won just three games last year to finish 14th despite boasting a squad with more accomplished players than on this year's roster.
The southerners virtually pulled out of sight when they scored their fourth try through new wing Patrick Osborne to earn a bonus point in the 50th minute.
It was to be their last points but they did enough to hold out a Blues side who scored late tries through reserve tight forwards Tuipulotu and Angus Ta'avao.
Inside centre Francis Saili scored the first of the Blues' three second-half tries with a superb solo try soon after halftime.
However, their frustrating night was summed up after the final hooter when five-eighth Chris Noakes missed an easy penalty shot which would have given his team a bonus point.
The Highlanders played without possession for long periods but were the more clinical side on attack.
All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith scored the first try when he charged down a Noakes clearing kick and scooted away from the hapless No.10.
Outside centre Malakai Fekitoa doubled the advantage to 14-0 after slicing through the Blues defence on the halfway line.
Smith was at his best on the stroke of halftime when a sharp cut-out pass put fullback Ben Smith over.
The Highlanders have won four of their last five games against the Blues, including a 38-28 win at Dunedin in both teams' final match of last season.
Highlanders management will be concerned after 39-year-old lock Brad Thorn left the game midway through the first half with a rib injury.
The Blues have a worry of their own after captain and flanker Luke Braid was assisted from the field late with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
THE Lions surprised again after their promotion back to Super Rugby with a thumping 34-10 win over the Stormers on Saturday, with deadly flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicking three dropped goals in his 29 points.
Centre Stefan Watermeyer scored a try in the second minute before Boshoff took over with a conversion, three drop goals and six penalties for his game-winning personal haul at Ellis Park.
Boshoff sealed a one-point win away at the Cheetahs in the first round off a last-minute drop and was near-faultless with the boot at home to give the Lions two wins from two, a start few expected in their first season back.
It's more wins than the Lions managed all season in 2012 when they were relegated as South Africa's worst team.
Hooker Scarra Ntubeni's try for the Stormers in the 23rd and a conversion and penalty from Demetri Catrakilis had closed it to 22-10 at halftime and lifted the Cape Town-based visitors, but only briefly.
The Stormers were kept scoreless in the second half of their opening game of the season by a committed Lions defence.
Stormers and Springboks captain Jean de Villiers called his team's performance "pretty disgusting."
Watermeyer scored after a scintillating break from Lions captain Warren Whiteley in the opening minutes, but Boshoff controlled the game from there.
His unerring boot landed drops in the fifth and eighth minutes as the Lions raced to a 19-0 lead in 20 minutes.
He landed his third drop in the 61st after the Lions sucked up grinding pressure from the Stormers in the early part of the second half and he made certain of victory with his final two penalties in the last 10 minutes.
Boshoff landed seven from seven off the kicking tee.