Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans saw three of his fit-again fly-half candidates playing in one game as the Reds beat the Rebels 32-17.
The reigning Super Rugby champions picked up a priceless bonus point on the road as they notched four tries to spoil the farewell party for Rebels legend Stirling Mortlock.
The game saw a return for James O’Connor in the No 10 shirt for the Rebels after a liver problem, while the Reds had Quade Cooper running their attack from the pivot role. Both men will challenge Berrick Barnes for the Wallaby outside half berth in the Rugby Championship.
Barnes was the match winner for the Aussies in both the second and third Tests against Wales and is very much the man in possession, but Deans admitted after the 3-0 series victory over Wales that he would be running the rule over as many candidates as possible.
So, while he would have been delighted to see O’Connor taking on Cooper, he got an added bonus later in the game when Kurtley Beale took over from O’Connor and scored a try that got the rebels back into the match.
But it was the Reds who hit back after conceding two tries, one to Beale in his second comeback game, and who clinched the victory that kept them in touch with the Australian Conference leaders the Brumbies in the race for a play-off place.