So much of the Super Rugby AU narrative surrounds the ACT Brumbies' rivalry with the Queensland Reds.
One team looking to avenge last season's grand final loss. Another looking for redemption after letting two games slip in heartbreaking fashion this year.
But Brumbies coach Dan McKellar knows another shot is not guaranteed, and a gritty 26-20 win over the Melbourne Rebels at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Sunday proves it.
The result leaves the Rebels fighting with the Western Force for a finals berth with the playoff picture to come down to the last day of the regular season, while the Brumbies prepare for a qualifying final on home turf on May 1.
"It's not going to be gifted to you," McKellar said of the prospect of a grand final appearance. A fair point given two games against the Rebels have gone down to the final play.
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"We know we need to improve on some areas and also understand we did a lot of good things. It'll just be about preparing well for whoever we're playing and we've got to earn the right. We're not even thinking about Brisbane on May 8 or Queensland.
"We've had a tough week, we poured plenty into that Queensland game [last week] and had 14 boys go to a Wallabies camp and we didn't see them until Wednesday.
"Then we had to review, I couldn't dance around the review, there were a lot of good things in Queensland but some areas we pride ourselves on that we needed to improve.
"We've come here and shown a fair amount of resilience and grit to grind out a win because we haven't won here that often."
Melbourne drew first blood via James Hanson but ill-discipline proved costly with yellow cards to Marika Koroibete and Trevor Hosea keeping them to 14 men for 20 minutes.
There was little doubt a side as well-drilled as the Brumbies would capitalise. They established dominance at the set piece and breakdown, and like clockwork, the points followed.
First it was local junior Rory Scott with the first try of his Super Rugby career. Then Wallabies hopeful Cadeyrn Neville striking just as the Rebels looked to ease the pressure valve. Then it was Test flyer Tom Wright on the counter attack.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels demanded a response at the set piece. His troops were running the risk of leaving their finals fate in the hands of a rival. He got the fightback he was asking for.
But just as the Rebels seemed to be in the box seat, the Brumbies booted them out and repelled a last-ditch attacking raid to force an error and secure their first win in Melbourne since 2016.
"It's human nature, isn't it, to have an eye on what's ahead," McKellar said.
"We were guaranteed a position of hosting the preliminary final. We didn't let that get to us, we dominated that first half. Really pleased with resilience and grit."
The Brumbies have a week to recover while Melbourne will look to sew up a playoff berth when they face NSW, who are looking to avoid an unwanted record as the first Waratahs outfit to go winless through a season, at Western Sydney Stadium on Saturday night.
AT A GLANCE
Super Rugby AU round nine: ACT BRUMBIES 26 (Rory Scott, Cadeyrn Neville, Tom Wright, Bayley Kuenzle tries; Ryan Lonergan 2, Noah Lolesio conversions) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 20 (James Hanson, Joe Powell tries; Matt To'omua 2 conversions; To'omua 2 penalties) at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.