The Bulls kept their play-off hopes alive on Friday with a commanding 44-23 win over the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls kept their play-off hopes alive on Friday with a commanding 44-23 win over the Brumbies in a rematch of last year's Super Rugby semi-final at Loftus Versfeld.
The home side outscored the Brumbies four tries to two with flanker Jono Ross touching down for his second of the evening late in the game to secure the bonus point.
The Bulls took control early on and milked every chance they had to keep the scoreboard ticking, while the Brumbies were simply not firing as well as they did the last time they were at Loftus Versfeld.
In a workmanlike start to proceedings the Bulls lined up an early chance for Potgieter when the visitors were caught off their feet at a ruck close to the halfway line, but his first kick after an extended break from the game was weaker than he would have anticipated.
Potgieter then tried to convert a drop-goal – also from long distance – and again came up short.
The Bulls still controlled field possession and were able to live off basic errors that prevented the Brumbies from building any sort of momentum.
They looked impressive when running into space, although their first real chance to score ended when Matfield lost the ball in contact.
The Springbok veteran soon made up for the blunder when, in a moment of individual brilliance, the team's attack-coach cut through the Brumbies line in a second phase move that is likely to be repeated in the highlights real for aeons.
After breaking the line Matfield sold a dummy that left Jesse Mogg as stunned as the 16 000 spectators who watched the long-limbed lock pierce through the field at full pace.
The final pass was sent to centre Jan Serfontein who helped ensure the Bulls enjoy a 7-0 lead while the men from Canberra were still finding their feet.
To their credit, the Brumbies showed at the start of the match that their intention was to give the ball air and had it not been for a few poorly executed passed, they could have been rewarded early on.
Instead they watched as Potgieter made it a 10 point game when he knocked one over from close to both the halfway and touchlines.
The Brumbies then battled their way back into Bulls territory, but consecutive line-out infringements cost them crucial field position.
Potgieter extended the lead to 13-0 a few phases later and, after another steady build-up, the visitors finally added their first points through Christian Lealiifano who knocked over a penalty close to the 20 minute mark.
In another perfectly executed set-phase move the Ross scored his first try of the evening when Francois Hougaard peeled around the back of a line-out before sending Serfontein into a gap.
Serfontein, who is steadily maturing into a stock standard Bulls centre, off-loaded in the tackle to help his side to a 20-3 lead.
Again the Brumbies could only muster a Lealiifano penalty as the sting appeared to be out of the contest.
Another Potgieter penalty made it 20-3 at the break with the Bulls defence not looking like leaking any time soon.
As disappointed as the Brumbies would have been with the 40 minutes, the second 40 started on an equally sour note Matt Toomau after he was sin-binned for a high-tackle on JJ Engelbrecht.
Ironically the Bulls would have scored from that position, had the centre passed the ball.
Instead Potgieter extended the score before winger Bjorn Basson brought life back into the match by running-in a 70 intercept try.
Eventually Brumbies winger Henry Speight caught the Bulls defensive line napping and he darted over to make it 31-13, but still the Bulls continued to capitalise from schoolboy errors that allowed Potgieter to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen would later help restore some dignity to the scoreline when he dived over after a solid break by Pat McCabe – although it has to be said that the bizarre nature of the five-pointer pretty much summed-up the evening the travelling side was having.
Full-back Jurgen Visser fumbled the ball on the line after a diving McCabe flicked it to his inside before he was taken out close to the Bulls line.
Ross scored his second – his team's fourth – that ensured they would take the maximum points out of the game and in a fumbling fashion Tevite Kuridrani again scored his team's final try in South Africa for the season – although this time it would not hand them the win.
Tries: Serfontein, Ross 2, Basson
Cons: Potgieter 2, Pollard
Pens: Potgieter 6
Tries: Speight, Mowen, Kuridrani
Pens: Leali'ifano 2
Yellow card: Toomua
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (c), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongo Mbonambi, 17 MornÃ© Mellett, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 HandrÃ© Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Pat McCabe
Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Cobus Wessels
TMO: Johan Greeff
By Michael Mentz at Loftus Versfeld