The Bulls claimed their third successive victory with a 28-10 bonus-point win over the Melbourne Rebels at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Bulls deserved their win, having controlled large periods of the game and now consolidate second position on the South African Conference.
Unfortunately for the Rebels, they failed to capitalise on the Waratahs' slip-up on Friday and remain in second position.
The Bulls made a fine start to the match, taking the game to the Rebels and playing at pace and with great width. It took just five minutes before Adriaan Strauss grabbed his fifth try of the season; scrum-half Ivan van Zyl with the assist. It all started from great interplay between Bulls' lock combination as RG Snyman to put Lood de Jager through a gap with a sikly offload, only for the latter to be halted a metre short. The ball was recycled through a couple of phases, before Van Zyl unlocked the Rebels rearguard with a defence-splitting pass for Strauss to coast over from close range.
The Rebels got on the board in the 20th minute, Jack Debreczeni slotting the penalty after Thembelani Bholi was guilty of putting his hands in the ruck.
However, two minutes later, the Bulls extended their lead. Amanaki Mafi was penalised for the high tackle and Bulls captain Burger Odendaal pointed to touch. Odendaal vindicated his decision creating the try with a delightful chip kick over the top which for his centre partner Jesse Kriel to run on to and under the poles. Bulls' fly-half Handre Pollard added the extras for a 14-3 lead.
On the stroke of half-time, the Bulls scored a wonderful team try from a wraparound move involving slick interplay between forwards and backs before Divan Rossouw was found out on the left wing and finished clinically on the overlap. This meant the home side took a 21-3 lead into the interval thanks to three converted tries.
Five minutes after the break, the Rebels scored their first try, showing great patience in the build-up as the Bulls gave away a number of penalty advantages before scrum-half Jonathan Ruru unlocked the Bulls defence with his darting snipe and reach. Debreczeni made no mistake with the conversion to reduce the deficit to 11 at 21-10.
No further tries were scored until the 73rd minute. After a ten-minute spell of sustained pressure from the Bulls, substitute scrum-half Andre Warner caught the Rebels' defence napping with his quick tap-and-go to claim the bonus-point try. Pollard maintained his perfect goal-kicking record with his fourth of the night for a 28-10 lead.
The Rebels seemed to run out of steam in the final quarter, perhaps due to travel fatigue and the high altitude, with the Bulls claiming their third successive victory.
Tries: Strauss, Kriel, Rossouw, Warner
Cons: Pollard 4
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (c), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Shaun Adendorff, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Duncan Matthews
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Sefa Naivalu
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, AJ Jacobs
Television match official: Willie Vos