The Bulls ran onto the field at Loftus on Saturday afternoon with the obvious intent of running the visitors off their feet and bag a bonus point.
The partly fulfilled the first objective with some good running that was only neutralised by some over-ambitious passing and poor handling at key moments.
The Bulls were worth more than their 18-7 lead at the break, and there was always the uncertain feeling that the virtual Wallabies-backline on the run could overturn over the scoreline.
And it so nearly happened as the Bulls error-rate increased when they became a little too loose and laissez-faire and ambitious in their running approach and the visitors grew in confidence with the overturned possession.
However, there were many highlights in the Bulls game. Johnny Kotze, who stood in at inside centre in a week where the Bulls were without three regular backline players was a revelation.
The scrummaging was immense, with Lizo Gqoboka now a serious contender for a World Cup loosehead berth after injury stunted his development last year. Trevor Nyakane and hooker Jaco Visagie were just as influential in the scrums with Nyakane’s play in the tight loose probably making him the best tighthead in the country at present.
The replacements Simphiwe Matanzima and Wiehahn Herbst carried on in this vein with Johan Grobbelaar between them when the front rows were substituted.
The Waratahs conceded six of their 11 penalties in the scrum – ample proof of the Bulls domination in this facet.
Marco van Staden was outstanding in the loose, charging with intent and turning over possession; there was the 65 metres run for a try by Duane Vermeulen, the speed of the wings Cornal Hendricks and Rosko Specman, and Handré Pollard who played all over the field but made some uncharacteristic mistakes by probably overdoing the running bit.
It was a very satisfactory first half, the second half perhaps had too many errors, including overdoing the aim of running rugby – but whether this performance overall will be enough to beat Crusaders at Loftus on Friday night, will have to be seen.
Bulls (18) 28: Tries: Warrick Gelant, Duane Vermeulen, Simphiwe Matanzima. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalty: Pollard (3).
Waratahs (7) 21: Tries: Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona. Conversions: Bernard Foley (3).