Pretoria - The Bulls stepped up a gear as they convincingly dismantled the Blues 38-22 in a Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
AS IT HAPPENED: Bulls v Blues
The sides seemed to have switched game plans at the last minute as the Bulls played a more expansive game while the Blues, living off scraps, were more direct in their approach.
Flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter seemed to have been given some licence to deviate from the traditional role expected of a pivot at the Bulls.
Potgieter has been in superb form since he received his first start against the Lions last week and he continues to impress.
As was the case in their victory over the Lions, Potgieter was the protagonists in the Bulls' victory as he contributed 21 points to the score with a try, two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal.
The Bulls flyhalf opened the scores in the seventh minute when he found easy passage past the Blues defensive line when he got the ball from a scrum inside the opposition 22.
Despite a slightly lateral run, he managed to beat four defenders en route to the tryline, before he added the conversion kick.
Three minutes later, Blues flyhalf Simon Hickey pulled three points back for the visitors through a penalty conversion.
Potgieter struck again in the 12th minute when Potgieter slotted a drop goal just inside the opposition's half.
A kicking battle between the two flyhalves ensued with the place-kickers exchanging penalty goals in quick succession with Hickey adding his third of the game to bring his side within four points in the 22nd minute.
The Bulls, however, found another breakthrough just before the half-hour mark when eighthman Jono Ross collected a loose ball from a Blues ruck inside their 22 to score the try, with Potgieter converting.
In the 32nd minute, Piri Weepu converted his side's fourth penalty of the night before the Bulls brought the half to an emphatic end thanks to some great interplay between the players.
After an initial break by Potgieter, the hosts advanced to within metres from the line when the ball was sent to centre Jan Serfontein on the blindside to score, with the flyhalf missing the conversion.
The Bulls seemed to go into a slight lull in the second half after Potgieter converted a penalty six minutes after the restart.
This, however, remained their only points of the half until the 67th minute when he added his last points of the game with another three-pointer.
The Blues played with renewed vigour and they deservingly got over the whitewash in the 57th minute when Pita Ahki collected and dotted down from a Hickey grubber kick, with the latter converting.
Four minutes later, Hickey added another penalty conversion which proved to be the visitors' last points of the evening.
The Bulls struck the deciding blow a minute from time when Marcel van der Merwe went over for their fourth try to hand his side the full complement of points.
Tries: Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Jono Ross, Jan Serfontein, Marcel van der Merwe
Conversions: Potgieter (2), Handre Pollard
Penalties: Potgieter (3)
Drop goal: Potgieter
Try: Pita Ahki
Conversion: Simon Hickey
Penalties: Hickey (5)
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13
JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis
Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6
Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (captain), 3
Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett , 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul
Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23
15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Jackson Willison,
11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke
Braid (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie
Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Patrick
Tuipulotu, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Chris Noakes, 23 Pita