Two late second-half tries ensured a 41-22 victory for the Bulls as they outclassed the Reds at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Despite scoring a brace of tries – through Samu Kerevi – within six minutes, the visitors failed to assert any domination over their opponents.
The educated boot of Francois Brummer, who has converted 28 of his 33 attempts this season, ensured that the Bulls were always out of reach of their Australian opponents. He finished with a 100 percent effort from the tee.
The visitors did however manage to deny the Bulls a try-scoring bonus point by scoring three tries to the five scored by the home side.
Bulls head coach Nollis Marais' substitutions made a huge impact when they appeared late in the second-half. Scrum-half Piet van Zyl, the experienced Deon Stegmann and Werner Kruger all made valuable contributions that resulted in the home side scoring two late tries.
Sublime passing skills from the Reds backline saw Chris Feauai-Sautia go over in the corner for the first try of the match, Anthony Fainga'a, Karmichael Hunt and Eto Nabuli all linking brilliantly to send the 22-year-old wing over the whitewash. Jake McIntyre missed the conversion with the visitors drawing first blood, 5-0.
Fly-half Brummer added the home side's first points in the 19th minute after converting a long range penalty that took the score to 5-3.
As the first-half approached the last ten minutes, centre Jesse Kriel was tackled just metres from the Reds try-line. The Springbok midfielder broke away in the midfield, leading to prop Marcel van der Merwe powering his way over under the crossbar, which allowed Brummer to add the extras and take the score to 10-5.
After a long consultation with the TMO, referee Angus Gardener awarded the Bulls' second try. Captain Adriaan Strauss was rewarded with the try – Brummer added the extras once again for 17-5.
Flanker Liam Gill then slotted a 40 metre drop-goal on the stroke of half-time that took the score to 17-8 as the players headed off into the changing rooms.
Lappies Labuschagné ran in the third score after a clever Jan Serfontein chip kick was re-gathered by Kriel before the 27-year-old loose forward crossed for the Bulls.
The Reds finally got on the scoresheet in the second-half with two tries in six minutes, Fijian-born Kerevi crossing the whitewash on both occasions. The powerful back displayed great speed and physical prowess to get the Reds within five points as McIntyre slotted both conversions to make the score 27-22.
The Bulls' response to the 58th minute Kerevi try came almost immediately, the home side advanced into the Reds' half and quick ball out wide to the flying Travis Ismaiel saw him fend off Hunt to run in for the home side's fourth try, Brummer converted from a difficult angle that took the score to 34-22.
And the Bulls made sure they had the final say in the match, Van Zyl rounding off a move which he started with a score under the posts and Brummer added the extras taking the final score to 41-22.
Tries: Van der Merwe, Strauss, Labuschagne, Ismaiel, Van Zyl
Cons: Brummer 5
Pens: Brummer 2
Tries: Feauai-Sautia, Kerevi 2
Cons: McIntyre 2
Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagné, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboko, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dan Kriel
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Ben Matwijow, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (c)
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs, Jaco van Heerden
TMO: Johan Greeff