The Bulls fairly comfortably beat the Lions 9-16 at Coca Cola (Ellis) Park on Saturday in the Super 14 continuing a run that is now four defeats in a row for the Lions against the Bulls.
The match was not helped to become a spectacle by a huge downpoar just before kick off with rain persisting throughout the game.
Neither team managed to score four tries but the Lions held on to finish within 7 points so they picked up a losing bonus point.
The Bulls tried to take the ball wide a number of times and looked dangerous in doing so.
The visiting side also played the better rugby in the first half. They have now decided on how they want to play the ELVs, and executed that to a tee with flyhalf Morne Steyn outstanding in his options, his placement and his general distribution.
The Lions surprised with Andre Pretorius getting his first start of the season after a hamstring scare earlier this week. Whether the injury was just a ruse or the truth will never be known.
The World Cup Springbok had a good game, and brought calm and better option-taking to the game behind a pack that provided enough but not in the possession stakes. When the Bulls kicked high, they formed an impenetrable line and their forwards then took matters from there.
However, often Steyn, Fourie du Preez and Zane Kirchner would also seek rolling touch finders. In the impressive first half, the Bulls played like their predecessors over the years, grinding and driving it up and then taking it wide.
The Bulls pack controlled matters before the break, with halfbacks Du Preez and Steyn's up and unders testing the Lions where Ashwin Willemse was found wanting on two occasions.
Bryan Habana scythed through the home side's defence early on but opted for a short kick with Bakkies Botha -one of two unmarked Bulls - on his outside.
It was, but for one long-range Lions break-away, all Bulls. Although they had marginally more than 50 percent of the territory, they spent that mostly in the Lions 22 before the break.
Their lineouts in the first 40 minutes were exemplary while the Lions lost an early lineout on their own throw.
After 12 minutes Steyn missed a penalty which would have put them deservedly ahead, but a minute later the Bulls pack drove through, sent it out wide and Akona Ndungane, on the wrong side of the field for him, off-loaded for Spies to go over. Steyn converted (7-0).
Three minutes later Steyn added another three points with a penalty when Jano Vermaak knocked on from a high kick and one of his players played from an offside position.
The Lions handling mistakes can to a certain extent be attributed to the rain, but there were also too many missed passes and knock-ons brought about by a swarming and aggressive Bulls defence.
Lions coach Eugene Eloff won't be happy with those statistics, but the Bulls should be thrilled with their defensive play after conceding six tries in their two previous matches.
The score became 16-0 after 32 minutes when Steyn struck another penalty from an angle and about 40 metres out. And when the Lions threatened and opted for a lineout instead of an attempt at the posts, Botha claimed their throw to bring relief.
The Bulls went into the break a comfortable and deserved 16-0 up.
It was a different Lions side after the break - or did the Bulls, as they did in their first two matches after a healthy halftime lead, lose concentration?
Whatever the reason, the Lions - even more so after Bulls centre Wynand Olivier was sin-binned after 52 minutes for a late shoulder charge - took the game to the Bulls.
The home side had the better of the third quarter in which time Pretorius added two penalties to make it 16-6 after 61 minutes.
The Bulls were by now giving away penalties at random and their supporters will hope this wasn't in reaction to suddenly being under pressure.
Their kicking game, so outstanding in the first half, also suffered somewhat and inexplicably their lineouts also were less commanding. Earl Rose, who had replaced Pretorius, brought the Lions within one score in the 72nd minute (16-9) with a penalty and then broke from his own 22 to let the Lions surge with the day's best move 50 metres up-field.
But then, with the very next move, he was yellow-carded for taking a man out in the air and sat out the rest of the match.
Penalties -Andre Pretorius 2,Earl Rose
Drop Goals -
Cards - Yellow (73) Earl Rose
Tries -Pierre Spies
Penalties -Morne Steyn 3
Conversions -Morne Steyn
Drop Goals -
Kick off: Saturday 28 February, 5pm (local)
Referee: Phillip Bosch
15. Louis Ludik, 14. Ashwin Willemse, 13. Jaque Fourie (V/C), 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Henno Mentz, 10. Andre Pretorius , 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Ernst Joubert, 6. Cobus Grobbelaar (C), 5. Gerhard Mostert, 4. Anton van Zyl, 3. Gert Muller, 2. Willie Wepener, 1. Lawrence Sephaka
Reserves:16. Hans van Dyk, 17. JC Janse van Rensburg, 18. Franco van der Merwe, 19. Todd Clever, 20. Chris Jonck, 21. Divan Kotze/Earl Rose, 22. Jannie Boshoff
Zane Kirchner; Akona Ndungane, Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez (c); Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann; Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha; Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Gurthrö Steenkamp.