Johannesburg - Neighbours Lions and Bulls are neck and neck in the Currie Cup title race this weekend after achieving fourth consecutive bonus-point victories.
The Lions bagged four tries in a 41-11 triumph over Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Bulls from Pretoria did even better by running in six tries as they overcame Griquas 46-32 at Griqua Park in Northern Cape capital Kimberley.
Lions flank Kwagga Smith raised his season try tally to five with a brace against rivals who had three players sin-binned.
But the forward is only the second most prolific try scorer with Bulls wing Jamba Ulengo having bagged six, including two against Griquas.
Lions and Bulls have 20 points each in the oldest national inter-provincial rugby championship in the world, which turned 124 this year.
A plus-99 points difference for Lions gives them first place ahead of Bulls (plus-94) with a September 12 Pretoria showdown looming between teams 60 kilometres apart on the Highveld.
Topping the table after the 10-round league season carries huge significance as it secures a home semi-final against the fourth-place finisher and, if successful, a home final.
Reigning champions Western Province and Cheetahs have 10 points each, Sharks nine, Pumas eight, Kings three and Griquas one.
Lions shrugged off the absence of injured skipper and loose forward Jaco Kriel to win comfortably after leading 16-3 at half-time.
Fly-half Marnitz Boshoff gave another outstanding goal-kicking display for the visitors, slotting three conversions, four penalties and a drop goal for a 21-point contribution.
Pumas skipper and centre Stefan Watermeyer was yellow-carded after only seven minutes and loose forwards Marnus Schoeman and Uzair Cassiem spent time in the sin-bin during the second half.
Winless Griquas scored 11 unanswered points before Bulls clicked to run in four tries within 13 minutes and turn over 31-11 ahead.
The hosts twice came within nine points of the 23-time Currie Cup champions during the second half before a late try by replacement playmaker Louis Fouche assured the Pretoria outfit of success.
Bulls starting fly-half Tian Schoeman finished with 16 points from five conversions and two penalties and tops the scorers chart with 78, nine more than Boshoff.
Durban-based Sharks were another side to win after starting slowly, finishing 24-20 victors over Kings in southern coastal city Port Elizabeth after trailing by 13 points.
Fullback Joe Pietersen scored a try and slotted three conversions and a penalty and young forward Daniel du Preez demonstrated amazing strength to squirm over the line for a try.
Unpredictable Cheetahs avenged a narrow loss at Province two weekends ago by winning 28-21 in Bloemfontein with the home side taking a 74-second lead they never surrendered.