Brisbane - The Reds put a disruptive week behind them to pull off their first win of the Super 15 rugby season with a grinding 18-6 victory over Force in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Reds, coming off a heavy loss to the Brumbies and off-field dramas with high-profile recruit Karmichael Hunt, carved out a two tries to nil win over their Australian rivals.
It has been a tumultuous start to the new season for the Reds with a crippling injury toll, the heavy first-up loss and Hunt due to appear in court next month on charges of supplying cocaine.
Hunt stood down from Saturday's game and the Reds were forced into another late change when their other big-name signing James O'Connor was forced out with an injury during the game warm-up.
It was a test of character for the 2011 champions and with Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia and former All Blacks back-rower Adam Thomson leading the way, the Reds employed a simple game plan and bustled Force into error.
Lachie Turner, who switched from the wing to fullback to cover for Hunt's loss, scored the opening try five minutes before halftime after a run from Chris Kuridrani off a Force clearing kick.
The Reds clinched the game when their concerted pressure in repeated scrums earned them a penalty try in the 55th minute after the referee lost patience with Force conceding multiple penalties.
Turner finished with 13 points from a try, a conversion and two penalties.
The Force's points came from two penalties from flyhalf Sias Ebersohn.
"It was down to character. We had a very simple game plan as far as tactics, we didn't want to play any rugby in our half because of the wet weather and field position and I think that worked very well," Genia said.
"At times it can be aimless and a bit boring but if you stick to it you get rewarded and I'm very happy with the effort.
"The boys have worked tirelessly on making our scrum a weapon and lucky that it was a penalty try."
Force skipper Sam Wykes criticised his team's set-piece in the defeat.
"Our set-piece was ordinary, we turned over ball at scrum and lineout time and we just weren't good enough," Wykes said.
"The Reds stepped up tonight, they were quality, they were in there for the fight and we didn't match it tonight."
The Reds will be away to the Highlanders in New Zealand next week, while the Force will be at home to the Hurricanes.
Reds: 18 - Tries: Lachie Turner, penalty try; Conversions: Turner; Penalties: Turner (2)
Force: 6 - Penalties: Sias Ebersohn (2)
15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Marco Kotze, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Tom Murday, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Campbell Magnay
15 Zack Holmes, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Solomoni Jnr Rasolea, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes (captain), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Francois van Wyk
Substitutes: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Mitchell Scott