The Bulls earned their second Super Rugby victory in four matches by beating the Sunwolves 27-30 at the Singapore National Stadium in Singapore.
The Bulls led on the scoreboard for most of the match but they were unable to create any real distance over the Sunwolves on the scoreboard until the final quarter.
Akihito Yamada scored a sensational second half try for the Sunwolves which got them back into the match but also brought the Bulls back to life.
The Bulls extended a three point lead to ten points with a Jamba Ulengo next to the posts but then in extra time the Sunwolves scored another fantastic try from the line out with Yuki Yatomi slicing through the Bulls defence.
Yatomi’s late try earned the Sunwolves a losing bonus point.
The Bulls victory is their first outside of South Africa in over three years although the new Japanese franchise came agonisingly close to an upset.
The Sunwolves are still winless but they have scored some of the tournaments best tries to date and their first win can’t be far away.
Against the Bulls the Sunwolves scored three spectacular tries before running out of time and settling for a second bonus in four matches.
What the Sunwolves lack in big-match experience they make up for with enthusiasm, adopting a spontaneous approach to the game both with the ball in hand and with their kicking.
They caught the Bulls by surprise to score the opening try after less than two minutes when the South Africans failed to clean up an astute chip-kick from Riaan Viljoen and openside flanker Andrew Durutalo crashed over.
Samoan flyhalf Tusi Pisi duly converted and added a penalty shortly after but the Sunwolves spent the rest of the first half defending after struggling at the set pieces and with their discipline, giving away 10 penalties in the opening 40 minutes and losing Tomas Leonardi for 10 minutes for a cynical penalty.
Flyhalf Tiaan Schoeman, one of four changes to the Bulls team that drew with the Sharks last week, booted three penalties to cut the margin to a point before the South Africans took advantage of their one-man advantage and dominance of the lineouts when Adriaan Strauss scored off a driving maul.
The Bulls stretched their lead to 23-10 seven minutes into the second half when they scored another try off the lineout, through Roelof Smit, but just when it looked like they might run away with the match, the Sunwolves hit back.
Pisi landed a long-range penalty then helped set up a spectacular try that began inside the Sunwolves and ended with winger Akhito Yamada bulldozing his way past Warrick Gelant to score at the other end.
Pisi converted from out wide to get the Sunwolves within three then Viljoen struck the upright with a 55-metre penalty attempt before the Bulls regained control with a contentious try to Jamba Ulengo, who was ruled to have grounded the ball into the post pads after the play as referred to the video official.
Needing a last minute try to salvage a bonus point, the Sunwolves were rewarded for their perseverance when replacement Yuki Yatomi darted through a giant hole in the South African lineout to score off the final play of the game.
Next week in Round 6 the Bulls are back at home in Pretoria where they will host the Cheetahs while the Sunwolves travel to Port Elizabeth to face the Southern Kings.
Final Score Sunwolves 27 (10) Bulls 30 (16)
Tries – A.Durutalo, A.Yamada, Y.Yatomi
Pen – T.Pisi 2
Con – T.Pisi 3
Cards – T. Leonardi (19th min yellow), E.Quirk (67th min yellow)
Tries – A.Strauss, R.Smit, J. Ulengo
Pen – T.Schoeman 3
Con – T.Schoeman 3
Referee: William Houston
Assistant Ref 1:Shuhei Kubo
Assistant Ref 2:Aki Aso
TMO : Takashi Hareda
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13.Harumichi Tatekawa , 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kaito Shigeno,, 8 Tomas Leonardi, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Yoshiya Hosoda, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Hitoshi Ono , 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Keith Inagaki.
Replacements : 16.Futoshi Mori,17. Masataka Mikami,18.Shinosuke Kakinaga , 19.Shinya Makabe, 20.Ed Quirk, 21, Yuki Yatomi, 22 Mifiposeti Paea , 23. Yasutaka Sasakura
Warrick Gelant , Jamba Ulengo , Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal , Bjorn Basson, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige , Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten, Roelof Smit, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe , Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: Bandise Maku , Trevor Nyakane , Pierre Schoeman, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Nic de Jager, Piet van Zyl, Francois Brummer, Jan Serfontein.