The Blue Bulls held off a late charge from the Lions to keep their Currie Cup semi-final hopes alive with a 24-21 win at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Jukskei Derby was considered a must-win game for both sides in their battle to make the play-offs. However, the Lions will be happy with the fact that they earned a bonus point for going down by less than seven.
The result moves Frans Ludeke's men up to third in the standings on 33 points, while the Lions drop down to fifth on 31 points.
The game failed to deliver as a spectacle in the opening hour as both sides made far too many mistakes in a fierce physical contest.
The only points in the first-half came from the boots of Elton Jantjies and Jacques-Louis Potgieter as they both struck two penalties to leave the score at 6-6 heading into the interval.
The Bulls dominated possession and territory in the first period, but they failed to breach a resolute Lions defence and mistakes at crucial periods cost them dearly.
Potgieter had a night to forget as he missed three easy kicks at goal in the first-half, which would have given his side a comfortable lead at the break.
The Bulls' best chance of the half came in the 32nd minute when Stefan Watermeyer broke the line and offloaded to Pretorius, who carried two players with him to the line before coming up just short. The Bulls then managed to recycle the ball and swung it out to Greyling on the blindside, but he was bundled into touch.
The Lions, who would have considered themselves lucky to still be in the game, came out a different side in the second period as they dominated possession.
The Gauteng outfits exchanged penalties shortly after half-time before Potgieter slotted his fourth three-pointer of the evening to make it 12-9.
Former Bulls golden-boy, Wickus van Heerden, made his return earlier than expected after a lengthy lay-off for a broken arm.
The Springbok flanker was on the bench for John Mitchell's side, but he was introduced as early as the 21st minute when eighth man Warren Whiteley was forced to leave the field with an injury.
However, it was not the return Van Heerden was hoping for as he was yellow-carded for a second high tackle in the 57th minute.
This turned the game on its head as the Bulls capitalised straight away through a try by Gerrit-Jan van Velze.
The number eight went over in the corner after a rolling maul from a line-out in the 59th minute to make it 17-6.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors as the Bulls again benefited from the numerical advantage as Stefan Watermeyer brushed off Doppies la Grange tackle and ran in under the uprights in the 63rd minute.
But the Lions refused to throw in the towel and they hit back straight away with a try as la Grange made up for his earlier missed tackle to dot down and give his side a sniff with fifteen minutes to play.
Potgieter's sin-binning in the 70th minute set up a tense finish to the game and Lions pressure paid off with five minutes left on the clock as Waylon Murray went over.
Jantjies slotted the conversion to make it 24-21, but it proved to be too little too late as the Bulls came out on top in the battle of Jukskei.
Tries: Velze, Watermeyer
Tries: Le Grange, Murray
Yellow cards: van Heerden (Lions - 59th min - high tackle) Potgieter (Bulls - 70th min - professional foul )
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 CJ Stander, 6 Derick KuÃ¼n, 5 JuandrÃ© Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Jaco Engels, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Okkie Kruger, 21 Dustin Jinka, 22 Stephan Dippenaar.
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe (capt.), 4 George Earle, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Wayne Swart, 18 Johan Snyman, 19 Wikus van Heerden, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Marius Delport.
Referee: Craig Joubert