Pretoria - There can be no doubt that RG Snyman's 71st minute red card against the Highlanders on Saturday cost the Bulls victory.
With the scores tied at 10-10 and the Bulls playing against 14 men, prop Pierre Schoeman went crashing over under the posts for what looked to be the winning try for the hosts at Loftus.
But, instead, replays showed that Snyman had rammed his shoulder into a Highlanders player's head and referee Jaco van Heerden had no choice but to send the lock off.
That meant the Bulls lost their try, their extra man advantage and to make matters worse the Highlanders scored late to win the game.
It was a brutal loss for a side who has struggled to convince anyone that they are on the right track this season, and it further increased the pressure on under-fire coach Nollis Marais.
Speaking about the red card after the match, Marais had nothing but support for Snyman.
"RG is 21. At the end of the day ... there's a lot of things I can say. It's unfortunate," Marais said.
"His intent wasn't to hit the guy in the head. I think he had an excellent game and he played well. Unfortunately he made a mistake.
"He's obviously feeling bad. He knows how important it was for me and the team. He's feeling down. I said to him afterwards, 'RG, I love you very much. You've got to learn from this.'
"Apart from that one mistake he made, he had a really excellent game."
The Bulls are next in action when they take on the Lions at Ellis Park this weekend.