The Bulls' recent revival continued as they secured a 39-20 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Handre Pollard was the visitors' hero as he contributed 29 points via a try, five penalties, three conversions and a drop-goal. After last weekend's morale-boosting win over the Sharks, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will be delighted with the way his side dominated this game for large periods.
Joe Pietersen opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute via a penalty, after Deon Stegmann slowed the ball down cynically at a ruck, but the hosts soon suffered their first set-back when Raymond Rhule was sent to the sin-bin shortly afterwards for taking Jesse Kriel out in the air.
Pollard got the visitors' first points from the kicking tee in the 13th minute after Danie Mienie was penalised for a scrum infringement and the Springbok pivot extended his side's lead with a well-taken try five minutes later.
With the Bulls on the attack deep inside the home side's 22, Pollard attacked the line at pace and after a show and go, which bamboozled two defenders, he crossed over for the five-pointer.
He added the extras which gave the visitors a 10-3 lead and 10 minutes later slotted another penalty after Mienie was again penalised for illegal scrummaging.
Pietersen reduced the deficit with a successful three-pointer of his own in the 28th minute but a try from Bjorn Basson, on the half-hour mark, after Victor Matfield, and JJ Engelbrecht impressed in the build-up, restored parity for the visitors.
Pollard added the conversion and a penalty shortly before half-time which meant the visitors held a comfortable 23-6 lead at the change-over.
The Cheetahs were quickest out of the starting blocks after the break and Rhule made up for his earlier indiscretion with a superb solo try. The speedster ran on to a pass from Tian Meyer, midway between the Bulls' 10-metre line and their 22, shrugged off a Trevor Nyakane tackle and beat Kriel with a deft side-step before crossing over.
Pietersen slotted the conversion but the home side didn't build on that effort and instead conceded further penalties, especially at the breakdowns. One such indiscretion by Oupa Mohoje was punished by another accurate place kick from Pollard in the 53rd minute.
The Cheetahs struck back with a well-worked try five minutes later from Boom Prinsloo off a driving maul at a line-out deep inside the Bulls' 22 and when Pietersen succeeded with the two-pointer the hosts were back in the game as they were trailing by a mere six points.
If the Bloemfontein faithful thought the fightback was on, Pollard had other ideas. After slotting his fifth penalty in the 63rd minute he took the wind out of the home side's sails with a sweetly-struck drop-goal two minutes later.
The Bulls weren't finished yet and there was still time for Jan Serfontein to power his way over for their third try 10 minutes from the end, after a superb angled run which was the final nail in the Cheetahs' coffin.
Try: Rhule, Prinsloo
Cons: Pietersen 2
Pens: Pietersen 2
Yellow card: Rhule
Tries: Pollard, Basson, Serfontein
Cons: Pollard 3
Pens: Pollard 5
Drop goal: Pollard
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements:16 Stephan Coetzee. 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Steven Sykes, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Johann Sadie
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 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
Replacements:16 Callie Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Piet van Zyl, 23 Jurgen Visser
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)