The Bulls extended their unbeaten run to four matches by beating the Reds 41-22 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
After losing to the Stormers in Round one the Bulls have now gone unbeaten since the second round as they beat the Rebels in Round 2, drew with Sharks in Round four and have been winners every week since then. The Bulls had a bye in Round 3.
The result is the Bulls seventh consecutive victory at Loftus Versfeld over the Reds who last won in Pretoria in 2001.
The Bulls outscored the Reds by five tries to three so they miss out on the bonus point for tries under the new rules.
The Bulls led 17-8 at the break after they outscored the Reds 2-1 in the try count. In the second half, the Bulls’ intensity proved too much to contain and again outscored the Reds 3-2 but they would have been disappointed not to snatch a bonus-point try.
The Bull suffered an early setback when they unable to defend an early Reds backline move which ended with rightwing Chris Feauai-Sautia crossing the whitewash at the corner flag. The conversion was wide but the Reds nudged ahead 5-0 after only five minutes play.
The Bulls took some time to get into their stride but they produced several promising movements upfield with superb handling. They managed to get onto the scoreboard when flyhalf Francois Brummer was on target with a 17th-minute long-range penalty attempt from the halfway line after their jumper was impeded in the air at a line-out.
From this point onwards it was one-way traffic as the Bulls overcame their earlier shortcomings at scrum time and imposed themselves on the match with forward dominance. The Reds defence was under the cosh for sustained spells and towards the end of the half, the pressure finally took its toll as a series of pick-and-drives earned the Bulls two tries in the space of four minutes.
First over was prop Marcel Van der Merwe in the 31st minute and he was followed by fellow front-ranker Adriaan Strauss. Both tries were converted by Brummer.
In the build-up play to Van der Merwe’s try, centre Jesse Krie made a superb break which left three would-be tacklers floundering in his slipstream.
On the stroke of halftime, the Reds flanker Liam Gill was on target with a speculative 40m drop goal much to the surprise of everyone.
During the halftime break, Bulls coach Nollis Marais said in a TV interview that he had instructed his charges to let the ball do the work and that was very much the case a few minutes later when the Bulls snatched their third try nine minutes into the second half.
Just after Brummer had steered a 45th-minute penalty through the posts, a sweeping move down the centre of the park by the Bulls was marked by superb man-to-man handling including a deft off-load by Kriel was splendidly rounded off by flanker Pieter Labuschagne. Brummer’s conversion opened up a 19-point lead.
The Reds stormed back with a fightback that proved too much to contain and helped by the Bulls’ lapses in defence outside centre Jake McIntyre cantered in for two tries in a hectic six-minute passage of play after excellent play by his midfield partner Anthony Fainga’a.
Flyhalf Jake McIntyre added the conversions and there was a stunned silence among the Loftus faithful as the deficit was reduced from 19 to 5 points.
This 14-point setback served as a wake-up call for the Bulls as they summoned a fresh sense of urgency which saw rightwing Travis Ismaiel cross after the cover defence was unable to stop him at the corner flag. Brummer’s touchline conversion was true.
This instance of excellence by Ismaiel proved to a game-changing moment as the Bulls looked unstoppable afterwards and substitute Piet van Zyl romped in for the Bulls’ fifth converted try in the 70th minute.
This effectively sounded the death knell for the Aussie visitors as they never able to wrest the initiative in the game again.
The Reds play the Stormers in Cape Town next weekend while the Bulls have a bye.
Final Score Bulls 41 (17) Reds 22 (8)
Tries -M.van der Merwe, A.Strauss, L.Labuschagne, T.Ismaiel, P.van Zyl
Pen – F.Brummer 2
Con – F.Brummer 4
Tries – C.Feauai-Sautia, S.Kerevi 2
Con -J.McIntyre 2
Drop – L.Gill
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1:TBC
Assistant Ref 2:AJ Jacobs
TMO :Johan Greeff
SP Marais, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Rudy Paige, Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, RG Snyman , Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Trevor Nyakane (64).
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboko, Werner Kruger, Marvin Orie, Deon Stegmann , Piet van Zyl ,Tian Schoeman , Dan Kriel.
1. James Slipper (C) , 2. Andrew Ready , 3. Greg Holmes , 4. Cadeyrn Neville , 5. Ben Matwijow (starting debut) , 6. Hendrik Tui , 7. Liam Gill , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Nick Frisby , 10. Jake McIntyre , 11. Eto Nabuli , 12. Anthony Fainga’a , 13. Samu Kerevi , 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia , 15. Karmichael Hunt
Replacements : 16. Saia Fainga’a , 17. Sef Fa’agase , 18. Sam Talakai , 19. Lukhan Tui (uncapped) , 20. Curtis Browning , 21. James Tuttle (uncapped) , 22. Sam Greene , 23. Ayumu Goromaru