The Queensland Reds will go into next Saturday's Super Rugby clash with the Blues at Suncorp Stadium in a better frame of mind after pushing the Rebels all the way in Melbourne.
The Queenslanders ultimately lost for the third week, but the 25-23 loss at AAMI Park was a vast improvement on the defeats to the Waratahs in the season opener and Western Force in round two.
If not for some poor discipline and handling errors, this could have easily been the side's first win of the campaign.
Interim co-coaches Matt O'Connor and Nick Stiles obviously instilled some fight in the team, Stiles was impressed with how the players reacted from being 16-0 down after a week from hell during which coach Richard Graham got the sack.
"It was an improved performance, full of grit. But the most pleasing thing is just how disappointed the group was in the change room after the game because we got ourselves in a position to win the game - poor discipline, particularly early in the match, cost us,
"We were pleased to see how well the guys worked themselves back into the game but couldn't quite close it out. We'll learn from that experience and be better for it." Stiles said.
The Blues will be no pushovers despite losing for the second week running at home to the Hurricanes 23-19.
They did beat the reigning champions, the Highlanders, in round one and in Tana Umaga have a young, fresh coach with some new ideas. Meanwhile, the Brumbies head into their South African tour on a high after Friday night's brutal win over the Force in Perth.
It is just the second time in 11 years that the Brumbies have won their first three games of the Super Rugby season but they will be tested with games against the Stormers and the Cheetahs.
The 33-14 scoreline did not reflect how the Force was in Friday's game and the Brumbies were left battered and bruised, David Pocock breaking his nose.
In other results, the Sunwolves just missed out on a maiden win, going down 32-31 to the Cheetahs in the first ever Super Rugby match in Singapore. The Japanese outfit led 28-13 at half-time but the South African side came back in the second half to snatch the points.
The Sharks are the only other unbeaten side and lead the Africa 2 Conference after defeating the Stormers 18-13.
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