The Bulls withstood a late comeback from the Cheetahs to claim a bonus-point victory in Pretoria on Saturday and seal their place at the top of the table.
The defending champions needed just two log points to ensure first place, but they did more than enough as two tries from hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels, to go with scores from Marco Jansen van Vuren and Madosh Tambwe, gave them a four-try bonus point to go with the win.
The Cheetahs made a late fist of things as they scored two tries in the final 10 minutes, before the Bulls lost a player to a yellow card, but could not find that final blow to secure what would be an upset victory.
Matchflow: Needing just two points to secure top spot, the Bulls were more than happy to exchange blows with the Cheetahs in the first half.
Jake White’s team opened the scoring through Marco Jansen van Vuren’s try just after four minutes, which was excellently set up by outside centre Lionel Mapoe.
However, the Cheetahs quickly found their stride and landed a double blow of their own as No 8 Mihlali Mosi ran an excellent line to score, before two other products of the Varsity Cup, Cohen Jasper and Duncan Saal, combined for the visitors’ second try.
Keeping in character, the Bulls turned to the power of their pack, which allowed Elrigh Louw to force his way over from a dominant scrum, and then Jan-Hendrik Wessels fell over the line from a driving maul.
The Cheetahs did lose Reinhard Fortuin to an injury in the first half, resulting in Ruan Pienaar having to revert to flyhalf. Pienaar and Johan Goosen then exchanged penalties to see the game go into the break deadlocked at 24-24.
It took just eight minutes into the second half for Wessels to get his second try from another powerful driving maul. Replacement scrumhalf Keagan Johannes made a terrific impact as he sped the game up and found Madosh Tambwe with a wonderfully weighted pass to put the wing in, as the Bulls extended their lead to 15 points.
The Cheetahs made a late attempt at a comeback as Jasper crossed for a try before he sent Malcolm Jaer over in the corner to make it a three-point game in the final five minutes.