Pretoria - Blue Bulls captain Jono Ross believes his team will still make the Currie Cup semi-finals despite their 35-26 loss to the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday leaving them with just two wins from seven matches.
The Bulls are in fifth place on the log, just a point ahead of the last-placed Griquas, and they trail the Free State Cheetahs in fourth by five points.
"I still believe we're going to make the semi-finals but we just have to stop playing against ourselves," Ross said.
"Again we played with 14 men for 20 minutes and our discipline let us down. It's frustrating speaking about the same things every week, but the same things are going wrong.
"The one positive is the way we played in the last 10 minutes, to come back and get a bonus point showed a lot of guts and it gives us hope."
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar pointed out that the bonus point left his team just five points behind the Cheetahs, a deficit they can make up in one weekend.
He lamented the two yellow cards in the first half that meant his team were chasing the game practically from the outset.
"We put pressure on ourselves because of our discipline," Pienaar said.
"When you give away penalties, you lose territory and momentum, but I was encouraged by the last 10 minutes."
Fullback Clayton Blommetjies was yellow-carded in the 19th minute for a trip, while flyhalf Tony Jantjies followed him to the sin-bin 13 minutes later after handling the ball in a ruck on his own tryline.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said he was disappointed his team did not manage to capitalise more -- not being able to score a point -- while the Bulls were down to 14 men.
"If you can keep the ball for a few phases then the Bulls are vulnerable, but we should've scored more tries, especially with two yellow cards against them," Ackermann said.
"But after that quick try at the start of the game, we became a bit too individual and didn't stick to the structure, so the space wasn't there.
"It's another lesson to learn, to wait until you get over the 22 and keep your composure."
While the Bulls only scored two of their four tries in the last seven minutes when the Lions were already assured of victory, Ackermann said his team's defence was a concern, as well as their scrummaging.
Ackermann praised tighthead prop Ruan Dreyer, his loose trio of Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie and Warwick Tecklenburg, and fullback Marnitz Boshoff for being the architects of the Lions' victory.
Boshoff had an excellent game at fullback, making a wonderful break from his own 22 to the Bulls' 22 in the first half, scoring a try and kicking a long-range penalty.