Western Province coach John Dobson couldn't hide his disappointment after his side's 28-21 loss to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The defending champions suffered a second successive loss on the road in 2015, but they did pick up a losing bonus point.
“It hurts a lot but we remain determined to still be there come the sharp-end of the season," Dobson told WP's official website.
“I was a bit happier with certain aspects this week, but you cannot lose games like this at Western Province, so we certainly have to fix things.
“Last week (against the Bulls) we were bullied a bit and outplayed, but this time we shot ourselves in the foot, so we certainly have some soul-searching to do from a results point of view.”
After thirty minutes of action, WP found themselves 25-3 down in Bloemfontein, before launching a rousing comeback which saw them dominate the next 48 to 50 minutes by 18 points to three.
In the end, however, it was not enough to secure a third win of the season.
“Not to take anything away from Free State but we broke the plan a bit in the opening few minutes and made some silly errors like the kick being charged down… (and) suddenly we were 15-0 down and then, after half an hour, 25-3 down," added Dobson.
“What gives us some heart is how we played in those last 48 minutes when we got some rhythm into our game and when our breakdown functioned well. But, ultimately, against a quality and motivated Free State team playing such good rugby it was too big a gulf for us to bridge.
“The Cheetahs are playing some nice rugby. It’s a compelling style, they may not have the big names… but the commitment and the way they play is good for rugby in this region.
“I said after their (the Cheetahs’) opening loss to the Bulls that it was an aberration – I was widely quoted and given a hard time for saying it. But everything went right for one team (the Bulls) that day, and nothing went right for the Cheetahs, and I stand by that.
“At no stage did I think coming here would be easy, I think they still have a long way to go in this Currie Cup competition.”
One positive for Dobson and his coaching staff was a clean bill of health amongst the WP players.
Loosehead prop Oli Kebble (hamstring) will be assessed again on Monday after missing this week’s match, whilst scrum-half Jano Vermaak (finger) will also be given a once-over early next week.
“We missed Oli Kebble maybe, it was perhaps a bit too much to ask our two starting props to go so deep into the game,” said Dobson, who will also have another scrum-half, Nic Groom, back from Barbarians duty next week.
“I thought our subs made a difference, but, by then, our starting players had hit their straps to a degree.”