Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn hailed the never-say-die spirit of his weary side in the wake of their loss in Cape Town on Sunday.
"A round the world trip, a little detour along the way, lot of things weren'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."
The loss snapped the Reds three-match winning run and they will head back to Brisbane to prepare for another big Australian Conference derby against the Brumbies on April 7 in Canberra.
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 and they had their chances late in the game.
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.
Centurion James Slipper said the Reds search for scrum dominance didn't come as easily but he said his side would learn from the experience.
"We didn't perform (at scrum time) the way that we wanted to," Slipper said. "We let the referee dictate what was happening out there and that's not always great."