Pretoria based Super Rugby franchise the Bulls survived a second half comeback to beat the Rebels 45-25 at Loftus Versfeld and earn their first victory.
The Bulls raced out to a 28-3 lead by half time and then extending that lead to 45-3 before allowing the Rebels to comeback at them with four unanswered tries.
The Rebels comeback cost the Bulls the try bonus point as the four tries meant that the Bulls outscored them by just two tries having been six ahead earlier in the match.
Under the new rules in Super Rugby bonus points are awarded to team who score three more tries than their opponents so although both teams scored four tries or more neither take a bonus point from the result.
In the first half, the Bulls threatened a rout by scoring four unanswered tries through Bjorn Basson (10 min), Nick de Jager (18), Travis Ismaiel (37) and Jannes Kirsten (39).
Bulls flyhalf Francois Brummer was on target with all of his conversion attempts to round off the Bulls’ first-half points haul at 28.
The Rebels’ only score reply was a lone penalty in the second minute by their No 10 Jack Debreczeni (28-3).
The match appeared to be over as a contest a mere five minutes into the second half when Bulls winger Basson ran in two more tries in the space of four minutes.
With Brummer on song from the kicking tee, the 28-3 scoreline was boosted by 14 points for a 42-3 lead.
What followed was completely unforeseen as the Rebels picked themselves up in remarkable fashion and scored four tries in a 21-minute passage of play through Jonah Placid (47 min), Ben Meehan (51), James Hanson (55) and Ben Meehan (68).
Debreczeni could only manage one conversion and this 22-point points surge wasn’t enough to wrest the result from their hosts.
During this frenetic spell, the Bulls’ only advance was a 62nd minute Brummer penalty.
The Bulls have a bye next week in Round 3 while the Rebels return to Australia where they will host the Reds in Melbourne.
Final Score Bulls 45 (28) Rebels 25 (3)
Tries – B.Basson 3, De Jager, T.Ismael, J.Kirsten
Pen – F.Brummer
Con – F.Brummer 6
Tries -J.Placid, B.Meehan 2, J.Hanson
Pen – J.Debreczeni
Con – J.Debreczeni
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1:Mike Fraser
Assistant Ref 2:Stuart Berry
TMO :Marius Jonker
Warrick Gelant , Travis Ismaiel , Jan Serfontein, Burger Odendaal , Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Rudy Paige, Arno Botha , Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Grant Hattingh , RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss ( c), Trevor Nyakane ,
Replacements: Jaco Visagie , Lizo Gqoboka, Hencus van Wyk, Jason Jenkins, Roelof Smit , Piet van Zyl , Tian Schoeman , Dries Swanepoel
1. Toby Smith, 2. James Hanson, 3. Laurie Weeks, 4. Luke Jones, 5. Steve Cummins, 6. Adam Thomson, 7. Sean McMahon (captain), 8. Lopeti Timani, 9. Ben Meehan, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Tom English, 12. Mitch Inman, 13. Tamati Ellison, 14. Dom Shipperley, 15. Jonah Placid
Replacements : 16. Pat Leafa, 17. Cruze Ah Nau, 18. Jamie Hagan, 19. Sam Jeffries, 20. Jordy Reid, 21. Mick Snowden, 22. Kotaro Matsushima , 23. Dan Hawkins.