The Blue Bulls provisionally moved to the top of the Currie Cup table after claiming a 39-29 victory over the Pumas in Pretoria on Friday.
The home side were made to work for this result but were deserved winners in the end as they outscored the Pumas by six tries to four with Jade Stighling leading the way with a brace.
The Pumas made the brighter start and opened the scoring courtesy of a Chris Smith penalty in the eighth minute but that lead was short-lived as the Blue Bulls struck back via a try from close quarters by their captain, Hanro Liebenberg, two minutes later.
The hosts soon extended their lead when Stighling crossed for a deserved try after the ball went through six phases in the build-up.
Manie Libbok converted both tries which gave the Bulls a 14-3 lead but they suffered a setback in the 15th minute when Johnny Kotze was yellow carded for an off-the-ball hit on Smith.
But despite being a man down, the Bulls continued to dominate and in the 22nd minute Dayan van der Westhuizen rounded off a flowing move which gave his side a 19-3 lead.
That scoreline did not deter the visitors and they struck back with well-taken tries from Marnus Schoeman and Marko Janse van Rensburg which meant the Bulls held a slender 19-17 lead after 33 minutes.
The Bulls finished the half stronger though and a converted Stighling try and a penalty from Libbok meant they held a 27-17 lead at half-time.
The hosts continued to dominate after the interval and in the 54th minute Jaco Visagie and Ivan van Zyl traded passes at a short lineout, close to the Pumas’ 10-metre line, before the latter crossed for his side’s fifth try.
Once again, the Pumas refused to surrender and replied with a try from Neil Maritz which meant the Bulls were leading 34-24 after 62 minutes.
The hosts sealed their victory in the 76th minute when Jano Venter outpaced the cover defence before scoring his side’s sixth try but the Pumas finished stronger and secured a bonus point when Morné Joubert crossed for his team’s fourth try in the game’s closing stages.
For Blue Bulls:
Tries: Liebenberg, Stighling 2, Van der Westhuizen, Van Zyl, Venter
Cons: Libbok 3
Yellow Card: Kotze
Tries: Schoeman, Janse van Rensburg, Maritz, Joubert
Cons: Smith 3
Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Conrad van Vuuren, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Dylan Sage
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Neill Maritz, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel, 10 Christopher Smith, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Hugo Kloppers (c), 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Khwezi Mona
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Abrie Griesel, 21 Kobus Marais, 22 Henko Marais
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Christopher Allison
Television match official: Lesego Legoete