The Bulls moved five points clear at the top of the Super 14 standings on Saturday with a 51-11 bonus-point win over the Lions in Pretoria.
Mission accomplished for the Bulls who moved five points clear at the top of the Super 14 standings on Saturday, with a 51-11 win over the Lions in Pretoria.
Gerhard van den Heever scored two of the Bulls' six second-half tries as they secured the vital bonus point ahead of tough fixtures against the Sharks, Crusaders and Stormers.
The scoreline belies what was a reasonably closely-contested affair for an hour before the Lions ran out of steam under relentless pressure from the defending champions.
In fact, the Bulls scored five tries in the final fifteen minutes as the exhausted Lions defence imploded.
The visitors might have believed they were in with a shout as the score read 12-8 to the Bulls at half-time, but when the men in blue upped in pace in the last quarter, Lions captain Cobus Grobbelaar and his team simply couldn't reply.
Torrential rain the night before left the surface at Loftus Versfeld quite slippery and the unusually cold weather kept many of the local fans away.
Herkie Kruger kicked the Lions into an early lead but MornÃ© Steyn leveled the scores on the quarter-hour mark and in doing so became the top-scoring South African in Super Rugby history.
Another Steyn penalty put the hosts ahead after 24 minutes and ahead they would stay.
The Bok fly-half added two more penalties before the Lions scored the game's first try when Wandile Mjekevu blitzed down the left hand touchline to round off a flowing move from the visitors.
Kruger's conversion sailed wide but he made up for it with a try-saving tackle on Wynand Olivier just before the break.
The half ended with the Bulls camped on the Lions' try-line but the visitors' defence stood firm, leaving the scores at 12-8.
A trademark Bulls maul got the scoreboard ticking directly after the restart with Derick KuÃ¼n touching down. Steyn landed the conversion from near the touchline to extend the lead at 19-8.
Kruger and Steyn exchanged penalties but the Bulls' pressure on the gallant Lions defence grew with every passing minute until it finally cracked when Van den Heever did brilliantly to keep his feet off the touchline and win the race to Zane Kirchner's kick ahead.
The Lions barely had time to catch their breath before Van den Heever was over again as the Bulls spread the ball through the back-line.
It was all Bulls in the last ten minutes as the hosts went in search on the bonus point. Steyn ghosted over with a neat step before Wynand Olivier found his way into the corner to secure the bonus point as the Bulls cut loose.
John Mametsa added the cherry to the cake with his first Super 14 try in the 80th minute as the Lions defence disappeared.
Man of the match: Back to his rampaging best, Pierre Spies had the Lions stretched nearly every time he touched the ball.
For the Bulls:
Tries: KuÃ¼n, Van den Heever 2, Steyn, Olivier, Mametsa
Cons: Steyn 3
Pens: Steyn 4
For the Lions:
Pens: Kruger 2
Yellow cards: Franklin (Lions – 79th min)
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 John Mametsa, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Derick KuÃ¼n, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Deon Stegmann, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Pedrie Wannenburg.
Lions: 15 Carlos Spencer, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Marius Delport , 12 Walter Venter, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar (c), 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Nico Luus, 3 Gert Muller, 2 Hans van Dyk, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Wouter Moore, 19 Justin Wheeler, 20 Chris Jonck, 21 Deon van Rensburg, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)