Invercargill - The Highlanders, playing their first match in two weeks after a mid-season bye, beat the Reds 24-19 in a Super 14 match on Saturday.
Both teams scored three tries but the Highlanders finished stronger than the Reds after trailing 12-10 at half-time, posting a fourth win of the season and third in a row to remain in playoff contention.
Kendrick Lynn and George Naoupu scored second-half tries for the Highlanders.
The Highlanders captain Jimmy Cowan said: "We lost a bit of momentum with the bye.
"We had a good training week and we tried very hard, but it was never easy against these guys.
“They came at us very hard and we had to show a lot of backbone to win the match."
The Reds started strongly, with a try to midfielder Quade Cooper after only a minute and finished with a try to Digby Ioane.
The Reds’ captain, James Horwill, said: "We started off well and we ended well but we just went to sleep and lost our way through the middle part of the match."
Cooper touched down inside the opening minute to give the Reds an early 5-0 lead, cut to 5-3 with the first penalty to Highlanders flyhalf Matt Berquist.
A try to Josh Berkhuist pushed the Highlanders ahead 10-5, but the Reds fought back with a try before half-time to lock Hugh McMenamin. The conversion, by flyhalf Brendan McKibbin, gave the Reds a two-point margin at the interval.
Lynn's try in the 49th minute, then Nauopu's in the middle of the second half, lifted the Highlanders to a comfortable 24-12 lead before Ioane's try for the visitors.
The Highlandeers defended stoutly through the last 10 minutes of the match to preserve an important home victory.
"Our defence has been great all year and it showed in those last five minutes. I couldn't ask for anything more," Cowan said.
Horwill was disappointed that that the Reds squandered a half-time advantage.
"We wanted to play at our tempo and that's something we tried to do early, but unfortunately they got a couple of soft tries on us and that really hurt us in the end," he said.
Highlanders: 24 (Josh Bekhuis, Kendrick Lynn, George Naoupu tries; Matt Berquist 3 conversions, penalty).
Reds: 19 (Quade Cooper, Hugh McMeniman, Digby Ioane tries; Brendan McKibbin 2 conversions).