The Queensland Reds saw a Super Rugby Pacific victory go up in smoke after blowing an early lead to crash to a painful 35-17 defeat to the Hurricanes.

The Reds couldn't have asked for a better start in their Super Round clash at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday night, looking to make a mark in their first match against New Zealand opposition this season.

They raced out to lead 17-0 after 30 minutes with tries from centre Hamish Stewart and flanker Fraser McReight, but then didn't manage to score another point.

"Pretty gutted and I know the players are as well," Reds coach Brad Thorn said.

"These New Zealand sides, they'll make you pay if you make those errors, play too much footy in your half, lack of discipline."

"Credit to our opponent - they were under pressure and they battled away and then the game went their way and and we didn't handle that pressure as well so, we've got to take those lessons."

The Wellington-based Hurricanes struggled with discipline early, copping a 9-2 penalty count and both centre Bailyn Sullivan and prop Pouri Rakete-Stones were shown yellow cards for dangerous tackles.

McReight's five-pointer came while Rakete-Stones was on the sidelines, with the livewire flanker popping out of a maul to score.

But momentum shifted in the 36th minute after the Reds failed to play to the whistle, when an intercept attempt by Hurricanes winger Julian Savea was ruled to have gone backwards and was scooped up by Sullivan who raced to the line unchallenged.

The absence of Wallabies playmaker James O'Connor through injury was felt as the Reds appeared to become rattled while their kicking game was mostly ineffective.

They lost Connor Vest to a yellow card and then let Tyrel Lomax score right on halftime as their lead was whittled back to 17-14.

With their tireless skipper Ardie Savea urging his team on, prop Lomax was in again just a minute into the second half as the Hurricanes took the lead for the first time.

Sullivan then crossed again in the 70th minute when he pounced on a perfectly-weighted kick into the in-goal by reserve playmaker Jackson Garden-Bachop, pushing the margin out to 13 points.

With the Waratahs going down to the Chiefs on Friday night, it continued the misery for Australian teams against their trans-Tasman rivals.

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland was thrilled with the way his team responded.

"To come back from 17-0 down and win is in its own way pretty satisfying," he said.

"It took a while for us to adjust to a few things and what we've learned is that possession is key.

"So, when we got that right and we sorted out some discipline we were able to adapt and get into the game so I'm pretty happy with that."

HURRICANES 30 (Tries: Sullivan 2, Lomax 2)

REDS 17 (Tries: Stewart, McReight)

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Bailyn Sullivan, 12 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Aidan Morgan, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea (c), 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Kianu Kereru-Symes, 1 Pouri Rakete-Stones

Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Justin Sangster, 20 TK Howden, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Billy Proctor

Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Lawson Creighton, 9 Tate McDermott (c), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Connor Vest, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Richie Asiata, 1 Harry Hoopert

Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Feao Fotuaika, 19 Lopeti Faifua, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Josh Flook, 23 Mac Grealy

Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant referees: James Doleman & Graham Cooper