The Bulls clinched a hard-fought 33-19 (halftime 11-3) win in their opening Currie Cup match of the 2022 season after a scrappy encounter against the battling Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday night.
The Bulls outscored their counterparts four tries to one, with poor weather making for a tough game with plenty of handling errors and slips throughout the match for both teams.
The Bulls started the match on top, with flyhalf Chris Smith missing an early penalty shot.
A Pumas mistake at a defensive scrum then saw them spill the ball over their own try line, allowing scrumhalf Embrose Papier to dive on the ball for an unconverted score in the 12th minute.
Two long range penalties from Smith in the 21st and 23rd minutes allowed the Bulls to move 11-0 ahead and into a strong position.
The Pumas then got on the board in the 30th minute as a penalty at the breakdown in the Bulls half allowed flyhalf Tinus de Beer to convert to make it 11-3, which it stayed until halftime with de Beer hitting the post from his second effort just before the break.
The second half then saw De Beer and Smith trade penalties in the 46th and 50th minutes to make it 14-6.
In the 55th minute the Bulls attacked from a lineout in the Pumas 22m area, keeping the ball tight as the forwards bashed up until lock Ruan Nortje smashed over to score, with Smith adding the extras to go up 21-6.
Two more penalties from the boot of De Beer brought the Pumas back into the game at 21-12 after 64 minutes.
The Bulls then seemingly slammed the door closed through an unconverted 69th minute try to hooker Johan Grobbelaar who held off three defenders to dive over.
However the drama wasn’t done as the Pumas were awarded a 76th minute penalty try, before the Bulls hit straight back through a converted score to replacement WJ Steenkamp as the match ended in thrilling fashion.