Seventeen points inside the first quarter saw the Blue Bulls claim a 28-20 win over Western Province.
It was cut and thrust stuff in Pretoria with the two teams giving nothing away, particularly in the closing stages when the hunt for bonus points was on. Crucially, neither team was successful in getting the extra point.
It was the Bulls who were out of the blocks fastest, with Francois Brummer knocking over a penalty before CJ Stander dived over for the home side's first try.
Just four minutes later, full-back Zane Kirchner was put over by Wynand Olivier and with the extras added by Brummer, the Bulls were 17-0 up after seventeen minutes.
Province fly-half Isma-eel Dollie got the visitors on the board with a penalty which was cancelled out by Brummer as the Bulls took the half 20-3 despite having had to endure a period of heavy pressure prior to the interval.
The men from Cape Town made their dominance count after the break with tries from Danie Poolman and Marcel Brache on either side of a Brummer penalty.
With the score 23-15, Province were back in it but just as the visitors got a sniff of victory it was snuffed out by a more experienced Bulls outfit.
The turning point involved four Springboks with Bjorn Basson catching Nick Koster (at the time the last line of defence) on his own five metres from the Province line after Zane Kirchner had hammered the ball down field.
Gary Botha was on hand to seize the ball from the ensuing ruck and put Olivier over for the Bulls' third try.
Province replacement flanker Siya Kolisi reduced the deficit to eight with a try after a strong run from five metres out. However, Dewaldt Duvenage missed the conversion and left Province needing more than one score to win with time almost up.
With the Bulls desperate for a fourth try and with it a bonus point and Province eager to ensure they got something out of the game by losing by seven or less, the players played nearly five minutes of extra time with neither outfit willing to throw in the towel. With the ball having travelled from one end of the field to the other and back again, a handling error eventually ended an entertaining encounter.
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Stander, Kirchner, Olivier
Cons: Brummer 2
Pens: Brummer 3
For Western Province:
Tries: Poolman, Brache, Kolisi
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Frans Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (c), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Jurgen Visser.
Western Province: 15 Conrad Jantjes 14 Danie Poolman 13 Johann Sadie 12 Marcel Brache' 11 JJ Engelbrecht 10 Isma-eel Dollie 9 Dewaldt Duvenage 8 Nick Koster 7 Tertius Daniller 6 Nick Fenton-Wells 5 De Kock Steenkamp 4 Hilton Lobberts 3 Brok Harris 2 Tiaan Liebenberg (c) 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Nizaam Carr, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Quinn Roux , 21 Nic Groom, 22 Berton Klaasen.
Referee: Lesego Legoete