The Chiefs' 13-year wait for a win at Loftus was extended on Saturday but they claimed a last-minute 34-all draw with the Bulls.
The Chiefs' 13-year wait for a win at Loftus was extended on Saturday but they made an incredible comeback to claim a last-minute 34-all draw with the Bulls.
The Chiefs have not won in Pretoria since 2001 but they will not leave empty handed having claimed three points, including a bonus point, after outscoring their hosts five tries to three.
The game looked dead and buried with 12 minutes to go as the Bulls led 31-15, but, true to form, the Chiefs scored three late tries before Gareth Anscombe landed a touchline conversion after the final hooter to snatch an draw.
The reigning Super Rugby champions were outmuscled by a Bulls outfit that used their famed rolling maul to devastating effect but the Chiefs' counter-attacking brilliance once again came to the fore in a thrilling finish.
The Chiefs did all the playing in the first half but led by just a single point (15-14) at the interval as tries from Mils Muliaina and Liam Messam helped put the champions if front.
The Bulls started the second half in dominant fashion however, touching down twice without reply to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
A Penalty try, and a try from Bjorn Basson, combined with Deon Stegmann's first-half score, looked to have the game won…until the Chiefs came back via tries from Anscombe, Matt Symons and Aaron Cruden.
The Bulls opened the scoring early via a Jacques-Louis Potgieter penalty but the Chiefs hit back with two tries in quick succession to leave the visitors leading 12-3 at the end of the first quarter.
First Muliaina raced home after a clever inside pass from Cruden before Messam doubled the tally with a powerful run, shrugging off a tackle from Victor Matfield following break from Andrew Horrell from inside own half.
Cruden added the extras to silence the Loftus faithful and give the Chiefs a healthy lead.
The reply from the Bulls wasn't long in coming though as Potgieter slotted his second penalty before Stegmann touched down off the back of a textbook maul drive from a line-out.
Potgieter missed the conversion however, meaning the Chiefs still held the lead at 12-11.
Chiefs debutant Anton Lienert-Brown was unlucky to be denied a try by the TMO after Muliaina lost control in the build up, but Cruden as was able to extend the lead with an easy penalty.
The Bulls would have the final say of the half though as Potgieter added another three-pointer after Asaeli Tikoirotuma had obstructed Francois Hougaard, meaning it was a one-point game at the break.
The Bulls returned from the changing rooms firing though, scoring soon after the restart as referee Craig Joubert awarded a penalty try after Symons pulled down a maul that was headed for the end zone.
Symons went to the bin for his indiscretion and the home side made the extra man count. Basson scored their third try after Messam failed to gather the winger's kick ahead.
Potgieter slotted both conversions and penalty to give the Bulls a big lead at 31-15 leading into the final quarter.
Cue an amazing finale, sparked by a wonder try, finished by Anscombe after a flowing move that started in the Chiefs 22!
Symons then crashed over from short range, after Augustine Pulu had bust clear, to pull the visitors back within striking range.
The final play of a the game was a classic as the Chiefs took the ball through 12 phases with Messam, Tikoirotuma and Horrell all prominent. Cruden broke clear at the end to score in corner before Anscombe's conversion levelled the final scores.
Tries: Stegmann, Penalty try, Basson
Cons: JL Potgieter 2
Pens: JL Potgieter 5
Tries: Muliaina, Messam, Anscombe, Symons, Cruden
Cons: Cruden, Anscombe 2
Yellow card: Symons
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel vd Merwe, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 HandrÃ© Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 MornÃ© Mellet
Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Anton Lienert-Brown, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Michael Fitzgerald, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Tim Nanai-Williams
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)