Pretoria - A much-improved second-half performance from the Bulls helped them to a 26-20 victory over the Cheetahs in a South African Super Rugby derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Morne Steyn landed all six of his kicks at goal, while scrumhalf Jano Vermaak scored an outstanding solo try to go with an effort near the end from Callie Visagie as the Bulls ended a three-match losing streak from their Australasian tour.
The Cheetahs were never out of the game until the final few minutes, landing a penalty after the hooter to secure a losing bonus point.Super Rugby: Bulls v Cheetahs - highlights
Trevor Nyakane scored his first Super Rugby try to bring them within two points with seven minutes remaining, before the Bulls pulled ahead again.
"It was important to get back to winning ways," Pierre Spies said in a TV interview after the game.
"We were making a lot of handling errors and couldn't put pressure on them in their half. Second half we started to play a bit more clinical and that got us the points on the board and a great try from Jano."
The Bulls dominated the opening period but went into the break trailing after they failed to capitalise on their opportunities.
Cheetahs flyhalf Burton Francis, hero of the victory over the Stormers last weekend, was reliable again as he kicked three penalties to the two of Morne Steyn to hand the Bloemfontein-based side a 9-6 lead at the break.
Vermaak scored the opening try three minutes into the second half, gliding past six defenders before touching down under the posts for a magnificent score.
The error count began to mount for the Cheetahs after that as they gave away penalties in kickable positions and were punished by the boot of Steyn.
But they were never out of the game and with the score at 19-12 and seven minutes left on the clock, Nyakane crossed the line unopposed after a period of sustained Cheetahs pressure on the Bulls line.
Francis failed to pull his side level when he missed the conversion from virtually the exact same position he kicked the Cheetahs to victory after the hooter last weekend.
The Bulls ended any hopes of a Cheetahs win as they drove into the visitors' 22 from the kick-off and Visagie burrowed over from close-range, with Steyn adding the extra two points.
As was the case with the Sharks in their loss to the Stormers earlier in the day, the Cheetahs were handed a penalty with the final kick of the game to seal a losing bonus point and substitute Francois Brummer made sure they got something from the game.
"We gave ourselves the opportunity to win the game, we just couldn't finish it. It's always difficult playing the Bulls at Loftus and deservedly they won," Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss said. Scorers:Bulls:
Tries: Vermaak, Visagie
Cons: Steyn 2
Pens: Steyn 4Cheetahs:
Pens: Francis 4, BrummerTeams:Bulls:
15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Paul Willemse, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Louis Fouchè, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk De Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Frans Viljoen, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Ryno Benjamin.