A travel-weary Queensland Reds have battled to the very end but had their three-match Super Rugby winning streak snapped with a 25-19 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town.
Both side 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.
They were down 18-0 after 26 minutes but scored two converted tries in five minutes either side of the break to slash the deficit to four points.
The Stormers reasserted themselves when winger Raymond Rhule crossed after he pounced on a perfectly weighted and placed kick from from fellow winger Craig Barry.
Poor execution led to them squandering other opportunities and the Reds almost made them pay in the last couple of minutes.
They got to within six points inside the last minute after 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 fullback Aidan Toua made a break from the restart and flyhalf Jono Lance got them to within a few metres of the Stormers line with a penalty kick to touch.
The Reds won their lineout throw just over five metres out from the Stormers line but their forward drive was halted by the home team to secure them a deserved win.
Through the game, the Reds struggled to generate enough pressure through set piece and create scoring opportunities, with Lance not having a single penalty shot.
The Reds hardly made any incursions into the Stormers' 22 in the first half hour, with the South African side good value for their 18-point lead.
Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage, who left the field late in the first half with an injury, backed up to score a fine counter-attacking try, sparked by winger Raymond Rhukle and centre EW Viljoen.
The Stormers went over again through prop Wilco Louw in the 26th minute, following sustained pressure from the home side.
Queensland's forwards struggled to get into the game, with the Stormers lmpressive light-stepping young five-eighth Damian Willemse causing problems with his running.
With half-time looming, Reds' Lance slipped through a gap and offlioaded to No.8 Caleb Timu for their first try.
The comeback continued straight after the break, when hooker Alex Mafi barrelled over from close range following a tap penalty close to the line.
A few second earlier, backrower Adam Korczyk gave the Reds strong field position when he charged down an attempted clearance kick from substitute halfback Justin Phillips.
Man-of-the-match Rhule crossed and Willemse converted to stretch the Stormers lead to 11 points, before the Reds mounted their late comeback.
Wallabies prop James Slipper made his 100th appearance for the Reds, captaining the side on the day.
There was, however some conjecture about a tackle from Taniela Tupou in the first half that many pundits at the ground including former Springbok coach Nick Mallett and Bok flyhalf Naas Botha said deserved a red card.
Regular skipper Scott Higginbotham made his return from a three-game suspension off the bench after halftime.
Tries: Rhule, Louw, Duvenage
Cons: Willemse 2
Pens: Willemse 2
Tries: Daugunu, Mafi, Timu
Cons: Lance 2