A manic 11-minute spell either side of halftime saw the Super 15-leading Chiefs crash to their second loss of the season, falling 42-27 to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
A dominant Chiefs side looked set to take a 22-8 lead into halftime but the Reds scored after the hooter - and followed it up with three quickfire tries after the break to seize momentum and, eventually, the points.
The defending champions Reds have looked out of sorts this season, winning five from 10, but it took the top side in this year's competition to bring out the best in the Queenslanders.
It was easily one of the most entertaining games in this year's competition, featuring some sparkling attacking play from both sides, but that will be of little consolation to the Chiefs who suffered their first defeat since round one. And, to rub salt in the wound, centre Richard Kahui sustained a serious-looking shoulder injury midway through the first half.
The Chiefs head into their bye sitting second in the competition, and they are guaranteed to still top the New Zealand conference when they return to action against the Bulls in a fortnight.
The Reds began the brighter side tonight and were rewarded for their efforts with the opening try after six minutes. Reds' second five Mike Harris picked off a lazy pass from Liam Messam near halfway and floated a ball to the right wing where Dom Shipperley dotted down for his sixth try of the season.
The game didn't look to be one for the defences, and Aaron Cruden soon exposed the Reds' line to give his side the lead. The first five slipped Kahui through a hole on the left touchline and, from the resulting ruck, ghosted across the Reds' line before firing a short pass to a straightening Sonny Bill Williams to dart through untouched.
The Chiefs soon had their second through a brilliant attack that began on their own 22. The ball was spread through several sets of hands along the Chiefs' backline before Lelia Masaga went outside his man and found a supporting Messam to give the move the finish it deserved.
The visitors soon suffered a blow when Kahui was forced from the field with a worrying shoulder injury, but the Chiefs didn't let the loss faze them. Jackson Willison, on for Kahui, was stopped just short of the line but the try-scoring machine that is Sona Taumalolo snaffled the ball and drove over in trademark fashion for his eighth try of the season.
The Chiefs were threatening to run away with it but the Reds pulled one back on the last play of the half when Ben Lucas slipped a tackle to make it 22-15.
After the break, the Reds regathered the restart and began the second spell how they ended the first - camped on the Chiefs tryline, where Scott Higginbotham crossed to level the scores.
It soon got better for the defending champions as Genia scored with a run reminiscent to his solo effort in last year's final. And, from seemingly the next possession, Saia Faingaa burrowed his way over close to the line to make it four Reds' tries in 11 minutes.
A shell-shocked Chiefs, who went from holding a 22-8 lead to facing a fourteen-point deficit in the blink of an eye, suddenly found themselves in a true test of their title credentials. It was a test they looked to be relishing when, after their first spell of consolidated pressure in the second half, Asaeli Tikoirotuma dotted down in the left corner to make it 36-27.
The table-toppers' comeback would have been further aided had the officials been able to identify the culprit who dumped Williams in a dangerous tackle, but Luke Morahan escaped attention and a yellow card.
Substitute Robbie Robinson went closest to further closing the gap when he was forced into touch in the corner, but a drop goal and penalty from Harris iced the game.
Reds 42 (Shipperley, Lucas, Higginbotham, Genia, Faingaa tries; Harris 2 pens, 4 cons, drop goal)
Chiefs 27 (Williams, Messam, Taumalolo, Tikoirotuma tries; Cruden pen, 2 cons)
- APNZBy Kris Shannon Email Kris