The focus swiftly shifts to Australia’s huge conference derby between the Brumbies and NSW Waratahs after Queensland stole the Super Rugby spotlight with a stunning win over the Highlanders.
The beleaguered Reds ended their winless start to 2016 with a shock 28-27 victory over the reigning champions that thrilled diehard fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Queensland’s drought-breaking victory, following a draw and four losses, extended their decade-long domination of the Highlanders and was just the tonic ahead of a tough two-game stint in South Africa.
The Reds also received welcome news on Sunday that Wallabies lock Rob Simmons will be free to travel with the squad for clashes with the Bulls in Pretoria and Stormers in Cape Town.
It had been feared a shoulder injury would rule Simmons out.
“It’s great to get the result over the Highlanders last night and pleasing that Rob’s injury wasn’t as bad as first feared,” Reds co-interim head coach Nick Stiles said.
“It’s good to have a guy of his experience touring with the group.
“The next two weeks are our first significant amount of time away as a group this season and present a strong opportunity for us to continue to build on the identity we’ve been working on for some time.”
The Reds seemed unlikely candidates to challenge New Zealand teams’ domination of the southern hemisphere tournament but powered to a big lead by the break and then resisted a Highlanders second-half fightback.
The victory marked only the third win in seven rounds this season by an Australian, South African, Japanese or Argentinian team over New Zealand opposition.
But there was more heartache for the Western Force, who suffered a last-gasp 20-19 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders in Perth.
The Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels and Waratahs all had a bye weekend.
The Waratahs host the Brumbies in Sydney on Saturday in a must-win match for the 2014 champions, who trail Australia’s conference leaders by nine competition points.
The Rebels are home to the Hurricanes and could surge into the outright conference lead for the first time in their five-year history with a fifth win this campaign.
But the fifth-placed Hurricanes are among the New Zealand sides occupying four of the top five spots on the ladder after their 40-22 win over the Jaguares in Wellington.
The Chiefs remain top of the table after beating the Blues 29-23 for their fifth straight win.
The Lions moved to the top of the South African 2 conference with a 24-9 upset win over the Sharks in Durban, while the Bulls outclassed the Kings 38-6.