The Blue Bulls kicked off their Currie Cup season in perfect style on Saturday with a 57-19, bonus-point win over the Free State Cheetahs.
The free-running team from Pretoria outscored their hosts six tries to three in an impressive performance in an exciting match that bodes well for their title chances.
After a disappointing Super Rugby campaign, there was much anticipation ahead of new head coach Nollis Marais' first official game in change but the men in blue didn't disappoint, producing a dominant display.
Scrum-half Francois Hougaard was the star of the show, scoring two tries and creating another as he bounced back from being dropped from the Springbok squad in the best way possible with a man-of-the-match display.
Fly-half Tian Schoeman also chipped in with a faultless kicking display, finishing with a personal haul of 22 points.
The visitors led 27-7 at the interval thanks to tries from wing Jamba Ulengo, flank Deon Stegmann and Hougaard.
Boom Prinsloo had opened the scoring for the hosts with an early try, but it was one-way traffic in the opposite direction until the half-time break.
Full-back Warrick Gelant secured the four-try bonus point soon after the restart as the Bulls' backs pressed home their advantage behind a dominant pack.
The Free Staters launched a brief fight-back as scrum-half Shaun Venter touched down but Hougaard's second try of the afternoon, just after the hour mark, settled any doubt over the final result.
Bulls wing Travis Ismaiel used his pace to score try number six to add the icing to the cake.
A late try by Clayton Blommetjies was scant consolation for the well-beaten Cheetahs.
For Free State Cheetahs:
Tries: Prinsloo, S. Venter, Blommetjies
Cons: Marais 2
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Ulengo, Stegmann, Hougaard 2, Gelant, Ismaiel
Cons: Schoeman 6
Pens: Schoeman 4, Fouche
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 Clayton Blommetjies, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Gerhard Olivier, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Willem Serfontein, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 BG Uys, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Fred Zeilinga.
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Roelof Smit, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dries Swanepoel.
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Willie Vos