Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn hailed the never say die spirit of his travel-weary side, after their three-match Super Rugby winning streak was snapped with a 25-19 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town.
Both sides scored three tries but the Reds, who were forced to fly to South Africa via London after playing in Argentina last weekend, trailed for most for the game.
Down 18-0 after 26 minutes, the Reds almost stole the game at the death.
Ultimately they had to settle for a bonus point, which kept them them in second spot in the Australian conference, seven points behind the Melbourne Rebels.
Converted tries to No.8 Caleb Timu and hooker Alex Mafi either side of the break, got them to within four points just after halftime.
The Stormers swelled their lead to 11 after converting a try to man of the match Raymond Rhule.
Poor execution led to them squandering other opportunities and the Reds almost made them pay.
They got to within six points inside the last minute when winger Filipo Daugunu ran almost the full length of the field and beat two defenders to score a spectacular try.
It wasn't converted, but they got to within a few metres of the Stormers line after a break by fullback Aidan Toua and a penalty kick for touch from five-eighth Jono Lance.
The Reds won their lineout throw but their forward drive was halted by the hosts.
"A round the world trip, a little detour along the way, lot of things wasn't all rosy out there," Thorn said.
"The guys had a lot of different challenges.
"To get within that sort of range of winning the game it's just really a great effort.
"At the beginning of the season, I talked along the way about playing for each other, playing for the jersey.
"You're just seeing so much heart seeing games like that. When your 18-0 down, they can easily blow out.
"The guys just kept on competing.
"There's a lot for us to take out of that."
Queensland struggled to generate consistent pressure through set pieces, with their scrum struggling and Lance not having a single penalty shot.
Halfback Dewaldt Duvenage scored a fine counter-attacking try and prop Wilco Louw crashed over from close range for the Stormers' second five-pointer.
With halftime looming, Reds five-eighth Lance slipped through a gap and offloaded to Timu.
The comeback continued straight after the break, when Mafi barrelled over following a tap penalty.
Prop and captain for the day James Slipper chalked up his 100th game, while regular skipper Scott Higginbotham made his return from a three-game suspension off the bench.
Reds prop Taniela Tupou was cited for alleged foul play, after he appeared to make a tackle without using his arms.