Struggling five-eighth Harry Plummer missed a last-minute penalty attempt as the Blues were held to a nerve-jangling draw by an undermanned Bulls side at Eden Park on Friday.
The result all but ends the Blues’ faint hopes of a spot in the top-eight play-offs with two rounds left after the weekend.
The Bulls, missing Duane Vermeulen and Handre Pollard, were dragged back into the game by five-eighth Manie Libbok who grabbed their third try with five minutes left and converted it to level the scores.
The Bulls, who are provisionally fifth overall kept their playoff hopes alive as they leapfrogged the Sharks into second place in the South African conference with 34 points, two points behind the leading Jaguares.
The Blues are fourth in the New Zealand conference, and 11th overall, on 28 points.
“We were our own undoing,” lamented Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu.
“There was bad execution at times and that cost us.”
Bulls skipper Burger Odendaal was content with the two competition points given they could have lost at the death.
“We’re basically happy with a draw,” he said.
In other news: Tony Brown returns to Highlanders
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now