Melbourne have snapped a five-match losing streak with a 27-24 win over the Brumbies in Canberra thanks to a dramatic late Reece Hodge penalty goal.
The Brumbies led by 14 points with 20 minutes to go, but with their season on the line, failed to repel the Rebels in front of a dismal GIO Stadium crowd of 5283 on Saturday night.
Scores were level at 24-24 with two minutes remaining when Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter was penalised for a high tackle on Billy Meakes, leaving Hodge with a chance to be the hero.
The 23-year-old hit the kick cleanly from the left of the field to ensure the visitors claimed their fifth win of the season and now sit just one point behind the NSW Waratahs in the Australian conference.
It left Brumbies coach Dan McKellar to lament that his side had "lost the unlosable".
But his Melbourne counterpart Dave Wessels was delighted with his team's resilience at the beginning of the second half when the Brumbies failed to score on the back of dominance in possession.
"The game was really won in the 15 minutes after half-time where the ball didn't leave our 22 (metre line), the boys just gutsed it out and that was special," Wessels said.
"Sometimes when you're a team that hasn't had a good run of late and a bit low on confidence, things don't work for you all the time, but it's nice to see the fighting spirit never left us."
Hodge's match-winner came about after fullback Jack Maddocks powered over for the Rebels' third try in the 61st minute and soon after, winger Semisi Tupou crossed out wide.
Both tries were converted to level up the game and produce a tense finale, with both teams spoiling several chances to clinch the advantage before Hodge stepped up to calmly slot the penalty.
The Brumbies were looking dominant during a 15-minute golden patch in the first half where they ran in three converted tries to Tom Cusack, Faalelei Sione and 19-year-old Rob Valetini.
That came about after the Rebels opened the scoring through a stunning try to Tom English, who got on the end of a tackle-shredding run from Angus Cottrell.
The Brumbies' fourth consecutive loss rules out any hope they had of making the finals as they sit 14th on the overall ladder, only ahead of the Sunwolves.
McKellar said the result was "not good enough" and forecasted changes for their two-game trip to South Africa.
"We've got to start to learn from the mistakes we're making and at the moment we're not," the first-year coach said.
"24-10 up and it's the same stuff and things I've been talking about for weeks."
Prop Scott Sio will be in doubt after failing a head injury assessment in the first half, as will flyhalf Whareni Hawera who went off with a knee injury.