The Reds moved into fifth place of the Vodacom Super Rugby standings as they beat the Waratahs 14-12 in a dour and unexciting affair in Sydney.
With all the trademarks of a typical Australian derby, the game failed to excite and was riddled with a plethora of mistakes as the visitors used three Quade Cooper penalties to ensure they moved above the Toyota Cheetahs and left themselves with an away game in Christchurch as the Finals series starts officially next weekend.
It also means that the Cheetahs will have to wait until later to find out if they will travel to Canberra or Pretoria next week as they end up sixth on the log after the Reds leapfrogged them.
Yet for a game that started so well, it went downhill quickly and eventually was characterised more by the Waratahs' inability to finish on attack than anything else as the visitors held out for a win.
Waratahs playmaker Berrick Barnes had a penalty opportunity to win the game in the 78th minute, but pushed the kick to the right and then kicked a horrible drop goal attempt after the hooter as nothing seemed to go right for his team.
It was a far cry from the way they started, as they dominated the Reds early on and by using the penalty advantages they accrued, managed to work fullback Cam Crawford in for the opening try of the game in the 12th minute.
Yet the Waratahs found themselves behind after an early Cooper penalty and when the flyhalf sent a long ball out to Ben Lucas, there was simply nobody to touch him as he scampered in for the try to give his side a narrow 8-7 lead.
Referee Steve Walsh was having just as bad a day as the players it seemed as he yellow-carded Waratahs hooker John Ulugia for a seemingly innocuous tackle – one which looked bad initially but which when shown again on the replay, showed that the hooker had used his arms and the offence was worthy perhaps of a penalty only.
Yet if it was to inspire the Reds to use their numerical advantage it didn’t, and the stern Waratahs reaction paid dividends less than two minutes later when halfback Brendan McKibbin read Cooper’s inside pass perfectly and ran 60 metres before unloading to Barnes to go over and score.
The Reds started the second half better, and again moved within a point of the Waratahs after a Cooper penalty. They finally took the lead in the 56th minute when Cooper put over his third penalty to give them a two-point cushion, and then held on for dear life as the Waratahs came at them from all sides.
Possibly the best chance the Waratahs had was when Michael Hooper lost the ball going over the line, but other than that, despite a lot of ball in the dying stages, their options and handling were poor, and they allowed the Reds to escape with the win.
Waratahs - Tries: Cam Crawford, Berrick Barnes. Conversion: Brendan McKibbin.
Reds - Try: Ben Lucas. Penalties: Quade Cooper (3).