Scott Sio has implored his ACT Brumbies teammates to lift as they approach the home stretch, saying they need to win all remaining matches to guarantee a Super Rugby AU finals berth.
A weekend of upsets has burst open the race for the Super Rugby AU title, with only seven points separating the top four teams.
The Brumbies' lead on top of the standings was sliced to four points following their shock 30-12 loss to the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.
The NSW Waratahs then posted a record 33-point victory over Queensland to leapfrog the Reds into the all-important third spot.
Under the new Super Rugby AU format, the top three teams will progress to the two-week finals series.
The minor premiers will directly advance and host the grand final on September 19, while the second and third placed teams play-off the weekend prior.
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The ladder-leading Brumbies have become the hunted as they head into a bye round, with Melbourne (14 points) and NSW (11 points) in hot pursuit.
Australian prop Sio has welcomed the bye-week to better prepare for the Brumbies' tough finals run, saying they need to come back stronger to remain on top.
"We're going to have [to lift]. I think everyone is starting to peak and play some really good rugby towards the back end of this season," Sio said.
"It makes all the games interesting heading into the business round. We know for us that means the next three games are must wins, to put ourselves in a position to play finals footy."
Melbourne could knock the Brumbies off their perch if they claim a bonus-point win over Queensland this week. NSW will look to strike while the iron's hot and close the gap by beating the winless Western Force.
The Waratahs scored five unanswered tries in their 45-12 demolition of the Reds, propelling them into finals contention after a disappointing start to the season.
The Brumbies only beat NSW by one-point in round three, so Sio is wary of what the Waratahs will bring when they meet on Saturday week.
"Super impressive. They've built steadily as the competition has gone on," Sio said.
"We saw what they're capable of [on Saturday], especially in the first half when the conditions were what they were, they showed some great skill in wet conditions.
"We know that's an element we're going to have to be ready for, with the weather that might be over the next couple of weeks. We have to be ready for anything at the end of the day."
Sio has been cleared of any serious injury after limping off the field late in the Brumbies loss to Melbourne.
The 28-year-old prop said he jammed his hip up early in the match and tried to play on with it, but eventually came off in the 48th minute to prevent further damage.
Sio did not require scans and is confident he'll be ready to go for 'Tah's Week' after the bye.
"I went as long as I could out there and tried to contribute to the team, I had to be smart around it though," Sio said.
"I thought Harry Lloyd who came on [for me] played really well, same as Tom Ross for Allan [Alaalatoa].
"I'm showing my age with my hip jamming up there, I'm 30 next year. Everyone is making a few funny jokes about that.
"We have the bye week now to settle any niggles, review that match and move onto another tough one against the 'Tahs in two weeks time."