Pretoria - Two late second half tries ensured a 41-22 victory for the Bulls as they outclassed the Reds at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
As it happened: Bulls v Reds
Despite scoring a brace of tries - by Reds winger Samu Kerevi - within six minutes, the visitors failed to assert any domination over their opponents.
The educated boot of Francois Brummer, who has converted 28 of his 33 attempts this season, ensured that the Bulls were always out of reach of their Australian opponents with a 100% kicking form from the tee.
Bulls head coach Nollis Marais' substitutions made a huge impact when they appeared late in the second half. Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, experienced loose forward Deon Stegmann and prop Werner Kruger all made valuable contributions that resulted in the home side scoring two late tries.
The only real positive for the visitors was that they managed to deny the Bulls a try-scoring bonus point by scoring three tries to the Bulls' five.
Sublime passing skills from the Reds backline saw Chris Feauai-Sautia go over in the corner for the first try of the match. Anthony Fainga'a, Karmichael Hunt and Eto Nabuli all linked brilliantly to send the 22-year-old wing over the whitewash. Jake McIntyre missed the conversion with the visitors drawing first blood, 5-0.
Brummer added the home side's first points in the 19th minute after converting a long-range penalty and took the score to 5-3.
As the first half approached the last ten minutes, centre Jesse Kriel was tackled just metres from the Reds tryline. The Springbok midfielder broke away in the midfield, allowing prop Marcel van der Merwe to power his way over under the crossbar which allowed Brummer to add the extras and take the score to 10-5.
After a long consultation with the TMO, referee Angus Gardener awarded the Bulls second try. Captain Adriaan Strauss was rewarded with the try - Brummer added the extras once again, 17-5
Flank Liam Gill slotted a 40 metre drop goal on the stroke of half-time that took the score to 17-8 as the players headed off into the changing rooms.
Lappies Labuschagne ran in for the third score after a clever Jan Serfontein chip-kick was re-gathered by Kriel and sent the 27-year-old loose forward over for the third Bulls try.
The Reds finally got on the scoresheet in the second half with two tries in six minutes, Fijian-born Samu Kerevi crossing the whitewash. The powerful wing displayed great speed and physical prowess to get the Reds within five points. McIntyre adding both conversions to make the score 27-22.
The Bulls' response to the 58th minute Kerevi try came almost immediately, the home side advanced into the Reds' half and a quick ball out wide to the flying Travis Ismaiel saw him fend off Hunt to run in for the home side's fourth try, Brummer converted from a difficult angle that took the score to 34-22.
The Bulls had the final say in the match, van Zyl rounded off a move which he started with a score under the posts and Brummer added the extras taking the final score to 41-22.
The Bulls have a bye next weekend, while the Reds travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers.
Tries: Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Lappies Labuschagne, Travis Ismaiel and Piet van Zyl
Conversions: Francois Brummer (5)
Penalties: Brummer (2)
Tries: Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi (2)
Conversions: Jake McIntyre (2)
Drop goal: Liam Gill
15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboko, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dan Kriel
15 Karmichael Hunt 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Ben Matwijow, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Saia Fainga'a 17 Sef Fa'agase 18 Sam Talakai 19 Lukhan Tui 20 Curtis Browning 21 James Tuttle 22 Sam Greene 23 Ayumu Goromaru