The Bulls climbed to the summit of the South African conference in Super 15 after a hard-fought win over the Waratahs at Loftus Versfeld.
- Related Content
An eighth consecutive win over the Waratahs came the hard way for the Bulls, who were outscored by three tries to two but could count on six penalties from Morne Steyn to see them over the line.
Steyn needed just two minutes to open his account before a second successful kick took the score out to 6-0 inside 10 minutes.
The Bulls bossed possession in the early exchanges and a third three-pointer by Steyn left the Waratahs staring at a tough evening's work.
Brendan McKibbin spurned the visitors' first chance of points when his penalty from a tough angle sailed wide in the 31st minute, but within moments the Australians were celebrating a try out of nothing.
Full-back Israel Folau was the provider, scoring a superb individual effort after evading the despairing tackles of Akona Ndungane and Ulrich Beyers.
McKibbin failed to convert and Steyn was successful with another penalty on the stroke of half-time as the Bulls went in at the break with a 12-5 lead.
That advantage was wiped out within five minutes of the restart, however, as Michael Hooper exploded through the Bulls' defence before offloading to Paddy Ryan for a try that McKibbin converted to tie the scores at 12-12.
The Waratahs carried all the threat early in the second half but missed the chance to move ahead for the first time after 54 minutes when a McKibbin penalty missed its mark, a mistake not repeated by Steyn four minutes later as he restored the hosts' lead.
Again the Waratahs hit back, Folau's burst presenting McKibbin with the ball, and he offloaded to Bernard Foley to cross for a converted try and a 19-15 lead.
The match continued at a breathless pace and within minutes the Bulls were ahead again, replacement scrum-half Francois Hougaard picking the ball up from a ruck just metres from the line and crossing for a try that Steyn converted.
The Bulls fly-half took the game further away from the visitors with his sixth penalty in the 72nd minute, and then crowned his man-of-the-match performance with a try in the final moments to add gloss to the scoreline.