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ACT Brumbies lose to Pretoria Bulls but can still win title: Ben Mowen

Bulls 44 Brumbies 23

JJ Engelbrecht of the Bulls tackes Nic White of the Brumbies. Click for more photos

Super Rugby round 15: Pretoria Bulls v ACT Brumbies

The ACT Brumbies take on the Pretoria Bulls at Loftus Verfeld in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images

PRETORIA: ACT Brumbies  captain Ben Mowen has boldly declared winning the Super Rugby championship is "still at the forefront of our minds" despite a nightmare two-game tour of South Africa.

The Brumbies are adamant they have the resilience to stop an alarming form slump after suffering their biggest loss in three years when they were thrashed by the Pretoria Bulls 44-23 on Saturday morning Australian time.

Time
80.00
Team
BUL
Score
44
Team
BRU
Score
23
Bulls versus Brumbies
View Match Statistics
Players Serfontein (8min), Ross (24min, 74min), Basson (45min) Tries 4 Tries 3 Players Speight (47min), Mowen (67min), Kuridrani (78min)
Players Potgieter 2/3 (66%), Pollard 1/1 (100%) Conversions 3 Conversions 1 Players Lealiifano 1/3 (33%)
Players Potgieter 6/8 (75%) Penalty goals 6 Penalty goals 2 Players Lealiifano 2/2 (100%)
Players Drop goals 0 Drop goals 0 Players

The Brumbies' title hopes are on the brink of disaster after losing both games in South Africa, the 21-point loss to the Bulls going down as the club's equal worst defeat in the Republic since 1998 and the biggest overall loss since 2011.

They have just three games left to salvage their season, but they have surrendered the Australian conference lead for the first time since round five and tumbled to seventh   after the Western Force's bonus-point win over the Johannesburg Lions on Saturday night.

"I don't think it matters which way you get to the finals, you just want to get there," Mowen said.

"The goal isn't to make the finals, the goal is to win the competition and that's still at the forefront of our minds.

"Whether we were in this position or not, you'd want to win the last three games anyway, so our path doesn't change. We just have to make sure we're up for the challenge.

"We're not going to get caught ladder watching."

Perhaps the most concerning point is the Brumbies have conceded 91 points in their past three losses against the Bulls, the Free State Cheetahs and the Canterbury Crusaders.

The NSW Waratahs are four points clear at the top of the Australian conference and have a game in hand on  the Brumbies.

The Brumbies have won just one of their past four games and lack a clinical edge, but star centre Christian Lealiifano said the players were willing to fight for their title dream.

"The group is tough and resilient, we're trying to get back and play footy but it's just not happening," Lealiifano said.

"There's not long left in the comp, the next game is super important for us so we have to prepare accordingly. I feel like we're doing all the right things, but we need to find a way to click into gear."

The Brumbies were outplayed and out-enthused in Pretoria, behind 20-3 after just 25 minutes and leaking four tries in a woeful defensive effort.

Their discipline was also disappointing, gifting Bulls sharpshooter Jacques-Louis Potgieter a night of kicking practice with the flyhalf finishing with six penalties and two conversions.

The Brumbies tried to rally and scored two late tries, with Ben Mowen and Tevita Kuridrani crossing the line.

The Brumbies also played 20 minutes with 14 men after Matt Toomua was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle and hooker Josh Mann-Rea followed late in the second half for cynical play at the breakdown.

Loftus Versfeld was the stage for one of the Brumbies' greatest triumphs when they beat the Bulls in the semi-final last year, becoming the first visiting team win a playoff in Pretoria.

But the return trip on Saturday morning Australian time could go down as the match which cost the Brumbies any chance of winning the Super Rugby title.

"It was time for a little bit of payback," Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe said.

The Brumbies play the Melbourne Rebels at Canberra Stadium in a must-win contest on Saturday night before finishing their season against the Waratahs and Western Force.

A loss to the Rebels would all but end the Brumbies' finals goal. Fullback Jesse Mogg suffered a shoulder injury, but it is hoped he won't miss a game.

PRETORIA BULLS 44 (Jono Ross 2, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson tries; Jacques-Louis Potgieter 6 penalties; Jacques-Louis Potgieter 2, Handre Pollar conversions) bt ACT BRUMBIES 23 (Henry Speight, Ben Mowen, Tevita Kuridrani tries; Christian Lealiifano 2 penalties, conversions) at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday morning. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 16,463.

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Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
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ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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