We made too many mistakes - Spies
Auckland - The Bulls squandered a chance to return to the top of the South African Super Rugby conference with a 23-18 upset loss to the Blues on Friday.
As it happened: Blues 23-18 Bulls
The Bulls dominated territory and possession but could not convert it into points against the unfancied Blues, denting their chances of making the play-offs.
Two tries to centre Jan Serfontein were not enough in a tight match where the lead changed five times but the bulk of chances fell to the South Africans.
"We made too many mistakes," captain Pierre Spies said, adding that the Bulls were determined to bounce back on a tough road trip featuring the Chiefs, Brumbies and Rebels.
The Eden Park match was a perfect opportunity for the Bulls to leapfrog the inactive Stormers in the South African conference.
But they will be lucky to retain the overall sixth spot by the end of the round, with the Waratahs, Lions and Crusaders all within striking distance.
For the Blues, whose finals hopes are long gone, the win salvaged some pride amid a dismal season and retained their unbeaten record at Eden Park this year.
"We've had our backs against the wall for most of the year and to see the boys come out with a performance like this shows we've got a real strong backbone," Keven Mealamu said.
The Bulls exerted immense pressure from the outset through their lineout drive, creating two clear chances in the first five minutes.
The first was disallowed when they were held up over the tryline and the second was ruled out due to obstruction in the lead up.
The home side were lucky to be level pegging at 3-3 before Lolagi Visinia sent them ahead with a spectacular individual try.
The Blues fullback picked up a clearing kick from Handre Pollard near the half-way line and raced past four defenders to score between the posts.
The Bulls hit back through Serfontein after Pollard found a gap and offloaded to the centre as he stormed towards the line at full pace.
Yet the Pretoria-based side went into the breakdown 16-13, despite enjoying 72 percent of territory and 58 percent of possession in the first 40 minutes.
They were less wasteful after the re-start, breaking down the left wing at lightning speed as the ball passed through six pairs of hands for Serfontein to get his second try.
But they were forced into desperate defending as the Blues regrouped, eventually conceding when George Moala powered over.
Down 23-18 in the final minutes, the Bulls worked the ball into a good attacking position but threw away their momentum, and the game, through a needless penalty.