The Sunwolves head into their Super Rugby Round 13 clash with South Africa's Sharks desperate to get rid of their "unlucky loser" tag and hoping history repeats itself.
Battling losses to the Chiefs and the Jaguares at the end of their four-week tour to New Zealand and Argentina gave head coach Filo Tiatia's side two bonus points (courtesy of losing by seven or less). But the side want more, and they want a repeat of what happened the last time they had some time off from the gruelling schedule that sees them fly close on 120,000 kilometers a season.
The Sunwolves come into the game at Singapore National Stadium on the back of a bye weekend and the last time that happened (on April 8) they beat the Bulls 21-20 in Tokyo for their only win of the season to date.
"We learnt about skill execution and how to better our game plan," Tiatia said Friday on his team's travels and what they have learned on the road.
Up against their third different brand of rugby in as many games, Tiatia said he expects the Sharks to be a typical South African side.
"They are big people and, like our own Willie Britz, they play with passion and have a real physical presence. The Sharks are a very ambitious young side and we are under no illusions how tough and competitive the game will be."
Tiatia has recalled a number of old hands for the game and the former All Black had particular praise for captain and inside center Harumichi Tatekawa, who suits up for the Sunwolves for the first time this season.
"We lost Haru (to a knee injury) in the preseason game and it feels like a couple of years ago."
"It's great to have our leader back especially with co-captain Ed Quirk out with a hand injury. Haru is a man of character and true honesty and you can see that in the way he plays."
Tatekawa leads a side containing seven first-choice Brave Blossoms and if the forwards can win their fair share of ball, the likes of Kenki Fukuoka, Shota Emi and Kotaro Matsushima have the pace and skill to worry any side.
Yu Tamura, whose late penalty clinched the win against the Bulls, is coming off a stellar game against the Jaguares in which he scored a club-record 24 points, while Britz and lock Sam Wykes have been outstanding all season.
"Observing the team from the outside it is obvious they are improving week by week," said Tatekawa.
The game marks the last time this season the Sunwolves play in Singapore -- where they are contracted to play three games a year -- and the side are desperate to give their "home" fans something to finally cheer about having come away with one draw and four losses to date.
"It's our last opportunity to win here so we want to execute our game plan properly," said Tatekawa. "We know it will be hot so it is important we communicate well and that the team leaders do their jobs."
The Sharks come into the game on the back of a disappointing 35-32 loss to the Kings. And coach Robert du Preez, whose twin sons are both in the starting XV, said it was imperative the team bounces back so they could remain in the hunt for a playoff spot. They currently hold the fourth and final wild card spot.
"The match is hugely important and it's not about maintaining a hold on our log position, but also about building momentum and confidence," the former Springbok scrumhalf said.
"This was supposed to be our momentum phase but we're back to Square One again so we need a win to get us back on track. And we need a proper win, it needs to be an all-out performance."