A clinical six-try showing from the Bulls saw them make it two wins from two in Super Rugby 2012 as they demolished the Cheetahs 51-19 on Saturday.
Despite being down to thirteen players for the closing stages due to Francois Hougaard being shown red and Jacques Potgieter in the sin-bin, the Bulls had already achieved their bonus-point win in a much-improved performance than the one that did for the Sharks in Pretoria last Friday.
There was always going to be a subplot regarding the two number tens on show and the duo didn't disappoint as Johan Goosen and Morne Steyn both kicked well. Steyn in fact reached a personal milestone as he recorded his 1000th point in Super Rugby with a simple first-half conversion.
Goosen got the ball rolling however with a third-minute penalty as the Cheetahs looked to strike back following a narrow defeat to the Lions.
Controversy then marred the spectacle when a technicality saw the Bulls handed seven points via a converted try from Dean Greyling. The powerful loosehead prop had taken the ball within inches of the Bulls' line before taking seemingly an age to place the ball behind him and then choosing to reach out for the try-line. Ordinarily the move would have resulted in a penalty for Greyling holding on in the tackle but due to the question asked by match referee Craig Joubert, the try was given.
The score was then 10-3 to the Bulls - who had Wynand Olivier back in their line-up for the injured Johann Sadie - with the Cheetahs not looking strong defensively. And it ultimately cost them when - following a second Goosen penalty - the Bulls' other prop, Werner Kruger, powered over with a helping hand from hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle. That timely score made it 17-6 as the traffic looked to be heading in only one direction on the half-hour mark.
It was a much-improved performance from the Bulls in the opening half as they silenced a few critics who had slammed them for last week's somewhat one-dimensional victory over the Sharks. Bjorn Basson was the next to cross the line for a well-worked team try that saw him up against WP Nel on the left. It was a feel-good five-pointer for the former Griquas flyer after TMO Johann Meuwesen denied him a score in the same corner earlier in the game.
Frans Ludeke's outfit were now in full flow and when Goosen added his fourth penalty two minutes before the break, it was only delaying the inevitable. And so it proved as seconds after the Cheetahs fly-half had made it 12-24, the expected fourth try arrived for the men in blue after the move of the match resulted in Olivier stepping his man, sending the ball out to Akona Ndungane who raced down the right before putting the ball inside to Zane Kirchner.
Milestone man Steyn settled a spicy affair down with a couple of penalties and with 20 minutes left the Cheetahs understandably looking a beaten franchise in Bloemfontein.
Bulls scrum-half Hougaard - moved to the left wing - was then shown red in the 63rd minute for making a dangerous tackle on home centre Robert Ebersohn, leaving the visitors a man down. And finally the Cheetahs got their first try of the afternoon when they capitalised on Hougaard's absence and hooker Andriaan Strauss burrowed over the whitewash.
An intercept try from replacement JJ Engelbrecht soon after killed all hopes for the hosts. Kirchner then rubbed salt in the Cheetahs' wounds with a brilliant individual try in the 72nd minute as he collected his own chip to ice the cake for the new overall league leaders.
Pen: Goosen 4
Tries: Greyling, Kruger, Basson, Kirchner 2, Engelbrecht
Con: Steyn 6
Pen: Steyn 3
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rocco Jansen, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Cameron Jacobs.
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jaques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)