The Melbourne Rebels recorded a 30-23 victory over a Western Force side that was reduced to 13 men at one stage in their Super Rugby opener on Friday.
The Force made all of the early running in Melbourne, and struck first when wing Alfie Mafi crossed in the corner after 27 minutes, but the home side hit back just before half-time when hooker Ged Robinson bulldozed his way over the line.
The Force took a slender 11-10 advantage into the break, but the Rebels took the lead early in the second half when a snappy pass from Richard Kingi saw lock Hugh Pyle canter over for the try.
The Force hit back soon afterwards when Mafi grabbed his second try, but any thoughts of a comeback were thwarted when Force flank Chris Alcock and captain Alby Mathewson were shown yellow cards in quick succession with 20 minutes remaining.
The home side took advantage of their numerical superiority when a floated pass from James O'Connor found Kingi who dived over in the corner.
The Force refused to give in and once Alcock returned to the action they launched a sustained attack on the Rebels tryline which resulted in Richard Brown crashing over to narrow the gap to 27-23, but O'Connor had the final say when a late penalty stretched the Rebels' advantage to 30-23.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Robinson, Pyle, Kingi
Cons: O'Connor 3
Pens: O'Connor 3
For the Force:
Tries: Mafi 2, Brown
Pens: Godwin 2
Yellow cards: Scott Higginbotham (Rebels, 22 - foul play), Chris Alcock (Western Force, 58 - foul play), Alby Mathewson (Western Force, 62 - foul play)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve (captain) 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Alex Rokobaro, 22 Tom English.
Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan (captain).
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Junior Rasolea.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Richard Goswell (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)