Western Province head coach John Dobson and captain Chris Van Zyl believes their second-half slump against the Blue Bulls at Newlands was down to them being reduced to 14-men just before half-time.
After leading 42-13 at half-time, the Bulls dominated the second half scoring three unanswered tries to just a solitary penalty from Province. In the end Province won 45-34.
Province centre EW Viljoen was yellow carded just before the break for foul play and Dobson feels it played a role in his side's poor start in the second half. WP's replacement prop Michael Kumbirai was also given his marching orders later in the half because of cynical play.
"There were some really tough calls in the second half, so we just didn't have any ball," Dobson told reporters after the match.
"I was really pleased with our defence. The character and the physicality that was missing in the last crazy 20 minutes in Kimberley [against Griquas] was there tonight [Saturday].
"I think they [Blue Bulls] had to work very hard for their points - all they got was a couple of lucky bounces."
WP was outstanding in the first half as they blew the Bulls away with six converted tries. However, they could not replicate that form in the second 40 minutes.
"If you give guys like Damian Willemse, Huw Jones, Seabelo [Senatla] fast ball then they are magic.
"That was the problem in the second half, with the penalty count like it was and playing 17 minutes with 14 [men] against a team that is attacking, we just couldn't get going in the second half.
"We weren't planning on defending the lead. The problem is we started the half with 14 against a team we knew was going to run absolutely everything.
"EW is one of the best defenders at 13 and we tried our best, but they scored a try early and we were under pressure from then on," Dobson added.
Van Zyl agreed that discipline played a factor in the Bulls' comeback in the second half.
"Starting with 14 men, we knew they were going to run everything. I don't know if it is discipline, but it is difficult when you are conceding these penalties and you are wanting to attack but you are in your half the whole time," said Van Zyl.
"But then again I thought at times when I asked the guys to respond accordingly and manage the game better and rather kick out because we had them under pressure at line-out time, I think they did well with that. I am fairly happy with the guys and how they responded."
Province's only major injury concern after the Bulls match is Bjorn Basson, who suffered a collar bone injury.