The Bulls scored a late try through Jesse Kriel to edge the Cheetahs 20-14 in a disappointing Super Rugby derby played at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.
Much was expected of the teams, who have a long history in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup, but neither produced anything special in a match that will quickly be forgotten by the fans.
The Bulls though will feel they have built on their win against the Jaguares the week before.
But things have gone from bad to worse for the Cheetahs, who not only gave up a handy lead against the Chiefs last week to lose badly, but they looked devoid of ideas on Saturday night in also going down to the Bulls.
The visitors led 11-3 at the break after a fairly dominant first period, but managed to score just three points in the second half as the Bulls hit back to keep alive their slim hopes of featuring in the playoffs in the weeks to come.
It was a game of few highlights and not much creativity, and Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss admitted his team had work ahead of them.
“It was a tough game, went down to the wire, but glad we could get up at the end,” said Strauss.
“It was not a great game and we couldn’t get into any rhythm, but it was an important win for us. We had to grind it out.”
The visitors started brilliantly and were rewarded for their dominance when Paul Schoeman finished off after a lineout drive, and when Niel Marais slotted a penalty on 10 minutes, the Cheetahs deservedly led 8-0.
It was all the team of Franco Smith at that stage, but the Bulls had their moments, regularly taking the ball through several phases and winning good territory.
But all they could show for their efforts was three points, thanks to the boot of flyhalf Tian Schoeman.
But neither side really created any decent opportunities in a disappointing first half, although the Cheetahs finished the 40 minutes stronger than the Bulls and deservedly led 11-3 at the interval after a second penalty by Marais.
The Bulls, desperate to not go down at home, hit back after the break through replacement Jacques Potgieter, who finished off after a good build-up by the home side, and the conversion by Schoeman made it a one-point game with 20 minutes remaining.
Marais though struck another penalty to edge the Cheetahs four points clear, but the home side again hit back, this time through Schoeman’s boot and a 74th-minute converted try by Kriel, which turned out to be the last points in a quite forgettable encounter.
Bulls 20 – Tries: Jacques Potgieter, Jesse Kriel. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties: Schoeman (2).
Cheetahs 14 – Try: Paul Schoeman. Penalties: Niel Marais (3).