Melbourne Rebels are desperate to avoid getting the tag of spoilers and upset merchants for the rest of their Super Rugby campaign.
The 22-16 away loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday left the Rebels last in the Australian conference and 13th on the full ladder, seven points off sixth spot with just over half the season left.
Their next seven matches are all in Australia, five of them in Melbourne, starting with next Friday’s clash with competition surprise packet Western Force.
“If we can get a win on the board then, we can get the ball rolling in those Australian games,” Rebels flanker Scott Fuglistaller told AAP.
“Those local derbies are always really tight and it would be good for our future if we can get some of those tight wins.
“From now on we’ve just got to keep winning, otherwise there’s going to be an unwanted tag of being an potential sort of upset (team).
“We don’t want that tag and, we want to start winning some close battles and we did that in the pre-season at the start of the year.”
Melbourne fought back from a disastrous 0-19 start to outscore the defending champion Chiefs 16-3 over the rest of the match.
It was the first time in eight matches in New Zealand they have conceded less than 30 points.
The loss to the Chiefs continued their run of narrow defeats by New Zealand sides this year.
They lost by six at home to the Crusaders and by three away to the Highlanders last week.
“We’ve played three New Zealand teams and got three losing bonus points,” Fuglistaller observed.
Equally galling is the prolonged wait for their first overseas win, with the defeat by the Chiefs giving them a 0-14 all-time record outside Australia.
“It’s getting so frustrating, that elusive win offshore,” said Fuglistaller, whose side will finish their season with two matches in South Africa.
“To keep an attacking side like the Chiefs that have scored 77 points in the last two weeks, to keep them to 22 points and only one try, is a reflection of how hard we’ve been working all through the week and a reflection of our coaching and how hard the players want to play for each other.”
“But I’m not really sure why we just can’t get over that last (overseas) hurdle.”
Halfback Nic Stirzaker suffered a rib injury against the Chiefs, but team officials doubted it was serious.