The Bulls survived a scare when they beat the Western Force 36-26 in their second round Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld.
The Force trailed 14-9 at half time but they scored a penalty and an early second half intercept try by Angus Cottrell to put them into the lead.
The Force managed to weather the Bulls attack until the 72nd minute when the Bulls maul powered over the line and took the lead.
The hosts were lucky to take full points from the match, scoring four tries, with the tourists proving a tougher prospect than the Bulls expected as they struggled to get the upper hand against the Australians.
The Force relied heavily on South African flyhalf Sias Ebersohn to cause damage through his kicking boot, and it was always going to be difficult for the Bulls at the breakdown area with the absence of a specialist openside flanker.
The Pretoria side were outclassed at the breakdown, while the visitors also forced the Bulls to do most of the playing, with Ebersohn launching the ball down field.
The Bulls made a promising start to the match when flyhalf Morne Steyn made a beeline for the tryline, after a clever skip pass from his halfback partner Francois Hougaard, to score two minutes after the kick-off.
Ebersohn, in fantastic form, made his presence felt eight minutes later with his first drop goal.
While Steyn failed to convert his own try he made no mistake with a penalty conversion just short of the 20-minute mark to regain their five-point lead.
However, Ebersohn soon put the Force in front with two penalty conversions, including a kick of close to 60 metres at an angle.
With seven minutes left in the first half, Steyn wrested back the lead with a successful penalty goal, and shortly before the break, the Bulls came close to scoring their second try of the evening.
Fullback Zane Kirchner drifted a well-weighted pass to wing Bjorn Basson, who cut to the inside and seemingly scored, but after a review by TMO Johan Greeff, it was found that a pass from Lionel Mapoe to Kirchner went narrowly forward.
Steyn nevertheless succeeded with another penalty conversion before the half-time whistle to give his side a 14-9 lead at the interval.
The Bulls suffered two crucial injury blows when Hougaard and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle retired before the restart, with Jano Vermaak and Willie Wepener replacing them respectively.
The Force upped the ante in the second half, and Ebersohn led the charge with a drop goal a minute after the kick-off.
The hosts replied in emphatic style with debutant Sampie Mastriet scoring from a tight space on the sideline, while Steyn's conversion attempt missed the mark.
The Australians then came close to causing an upset, with Angus Cottrell and Toby Flynn crossing the whitewash within 10 minutes of each other, and Ebersohn was on target with both conversions to hand his side a seven-point lead.
The Force held on to their advantage for 15 minutes until the Bulls made a gutsy fightback.
Steyn succeeded with 12 minutes left on the clock before Jean Cook, who replaced flanker Jacques Potgieter, scored in the 70th minute, with the flyhalf converting the try.
The Bulls then finished the match off on a high with prop Werner Kruger scoring his side's bonus-point try at the death.
Final Score Bulls 36 (14) Force 26 (9)
Tries - M Steyn , S. Mastriet, J Cook, W Kruger
Pen - M Steyn 4
Con - M Steyn 2
Tries - A Cottrell, T Lynn
Pen - S Ebersohn 2
Con - S Ebersohn 2
Drop - S Ebersohn 2
Referee: Jason Jaftha
Assistant Ref 1:Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant Ref 2:Sieg van Staden
TMO : Johan Greeff
Zane Kirchner, Sampie Mastriet, Lionel Mapoe, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies, Jacques Potgieter, Arno Botha, Juandre Kruger, Flip vd Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Morne Mellet.
Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Grant Hattingh, Jean Cook, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouche, Jan Serfontein
1. Pek Cowan,2. Nathan Charles,3. Salesi Ma'afu,4. Toby Lynn ,5. Hugh McMeniman,6. Angus Cottrell,7. Matt Hodgson (c),8. Richard Brown ,9. Alby Mathewson,10. Sias Ebersohn^,11. Alfie Mafi,12. Kyle Godwin,13. Winston Stanley ,14. Nick Cummins,15. Will Tupou
Replacements : 16. Heath Tessmann,17. Tetera Faulkner,18. Sam Wykes,19. Ben McCalman,20. Chris Alcock,21. Mick Snowden,22. Jayden Hayward