Pretoria - The Bulls suffered their second consecutive defeat at home as they went down 17-13 to the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
As it happened: Bulls V Hurricanes
An opportunist Julian Savea try on 67 minutes gave the Hurricanes the narrow victory in a match riddled with handling errors.
Giant All Blacks left-wing Savea took a quick tap penalty five metres from the Bulls try-line and right-wing Bjorn Basson, scrumhalf Piet van Zyl and lock Victor Matfield could not prevent him barging over.
It proved the decisive score and Hurricanes celebrated winning consecutive matches in South Africa for the first time since 2006.
"My team-mates backed me to have a go and I was lucky," was the modest summary of the match-winning score from official man of the match Savea.
There was a late scare for the New Zealanders when replacement Grant Hattingh dived over in the corner, but the television match official correctly judged that the lock had a hand in touch before scoring.
Hurricanes started the 2015 season last weekend with a 22-8 triumph over the Lions in Johannesburg.
Bulls, who won seven and drew one of eight matches in Pretoria last year, suffered a second successive home loss having gone down 29-17 to Stormers a week ago.
Hurricanes top the table halfway through the second round with eight points, two ahead of the Brumbies and three above the Cheetahs.
The Hurricanes' other points came from flyhalf Beauden Barrett, who kicked four penalties while missing three other shots at goal.
All the Bulls' points came from fly-half Handre Pollard, who scored a try, converted it, and slotted two penalties while an ambitious attempt came back off a post.
Hurricanes built an early six-point advantage and the lead then changed three times at Loftus Versfeld stadium before Savea dotted down.
"We were far from perfect but hung in there to get the win," said Hurricanes skipper and centre Conrad Smith.
"The team are top of the table and there are encouraging signs from a maturing squad, but there is an awful long way to go," he said, referring to 14 league fixtures that lie ahead.
Bulls skipper and No. 8 Pierre Spies rued missing scoring chances.
"A win was there for the taking, but we did not take our opportunities so it is back to the training field next week.
"Hurricanes put us under a lot of pressure, with our scrum-half a particular target, and we have to play better if we want to win."
After Barrett kicked two penalties, Pollard halved the deficit with a penalty before diving over near the posts after a superb break from young full-back Jesse Kriel.
A simple conversion made it 10-6 and Barrett closed the first-half scoring in stoppage time through his third penalty.
Barrett and Pollard exchanged second-half penalties to leave the home team one point ahead until Savea struck.
Try: Handre Pollard
Penalties: Pollard (2)
Tries: Julian Savea
Penalties: Beauden Barrett (4)
15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Morne Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Jurgen Visser, 23 Dayan van der Westhuizen
15 Jason Woodward, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes
Substitutes: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Ardie Savea, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 James Marshall, 23 Matt Proctor