SYDNEY - Melbourne Rebels keep gaining in the Super Rugby credibility stakes, but losing offshore.
An undisciplined start proved costly in a 22-16 defeat by the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The Rebels, who now have a 0-14 all-time overseas record, fought back valiantly after trailing 19-0 inside 25 minutes.
From that point they outscored the two-time defending champions 16-3 in a game that produced just one try to each team.
Lock Luke Jones was outstanding for the Rebels, who suffered a fifth loss in seven games.
The Chiefs, who were coming off a three-match away stand that produced a loss to Western Force followed by two high-scoring draws in South Africa, paid Melbourne plenty of respect.
The normally free-flowing Chiefs played plenty of high percentage territory-orientated rugby, as the Rebels dug in and rallied after their sluggish start.
Competitive in both the setpieces and at the breakdown, the fast finishing Rebels dominated the closing stages, but couldn't deliver the knockout blow.
Fullback Jason Woodward missed a close range penalty in the 72nd minute.
The Rebels twice eschewed kicks for goal in the last five minutes against a 14-man Chiefs side that had a man in the sin-bin.
However, nothing came of a lineout and then a tap, as a player was forced over the sideline on the first occasion and a knock on ended the second opportunity.
"We had an opportunity at the end and made a couple of bad decisions," Rebels flanker Scott Fuglistaller told AAP.
"But still very proud of the boys for a comeback."