Morne Steyn was back to his to sharpshooting best on Saturday, leading the Bulls to a 36-34 win over the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld.
Morne Steyn was back to his to sharpshooting best on Saturday, leading the Bulls to a 36-34 Super Rugby win over the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Brumbies outscored their hosts five tries to two but Steyn slotted 26 points – including drop goal and a penalty from his own half – as the Bulls claimed their seventh win in nine games.
Despite the loss, Brumbies coach Jake White will be delighted with his team's performance as they showed real fighting spirit to score 21 points in last 12 minutes to claim two bonus points and stay top of the Australian conference at the halfway stage of the tournament.
To be fair on the Bulls, they never really looked like losing after leading 19-13 at the interval and 33-13 around the hour mark.
That said, the Frans Ludeke will know his side will not win a fourth title if they have to rely on Steyn (and lady luck) to make up for a plethora of missed tackles when they jet overseas in a fortnight.
Steyn put the hosts 6-0 ahead early on as he looked to have found his rhythm after a nightmare at the kicking tee in Jo'burg last week.
But the Brumbies responded with two excellent tries – via Henry Speight and Jesse Mogg – that showed some worrying holes in the Bulls defence.
The Loftus faithful were appeased soon afterwards however as Steyn brought them within a point before Bjorn Basson scored at the end of some quick hands in the backline.
A Steyn drop goal gave the Bulls a four-point lead at the break and the Bok fly-half extended the gap with two more penalties after the restart.
The match officials then ensured the lead would grow even further when Steyn appeared to have dropped a simple pass, and while all the players stopped for the knock-on, assistant referee Stefan Breytenbach indicated to ref Marius Jonker that the ball had gone backwards, and CJ Stander bolted 60m to score.
With a 20-point lead, the Bulls looked to have the game in the wrapped up, but the Brumbies came flying back.
Andrew Smith, Anthony Hegarty and Ian Prior all grabbed late tries as the home defence disintegrated.
Tries: Basson, Stander
Pens: Steyn 7
Tries: Speight, Mogg, Smith, Prior, Hegarty
Cons: Lealiifano 3
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Juandre Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling/Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Johann Sadie.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Fotu Auelua, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen (c), 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements:16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Ita Vaea, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Tevita Kuridrani.
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)